Mario Kiesenhofer: Display/at first sight
Mario is a young talented Photographer and Artist based in Vienna, student at The Academy of Fine Arts, and a lover of his job in at first sight, a concept store in Kirchengasse 24/5. As if this 24/7 schedule would not be enough, he is as well preparing a really interesting exhibition for the 12 festival for fashion and photography. His special conception of how photography, fashion and displaying can be related, and his totally different new project that I discovered on his website, from a series he is working on since more than one year, about gay man having sex in the woods and how landscapes or landscape photographers can be the projected object of desire, were more than enough reasons to wonder a date with him.
Lara: First… could you tell us a bit more about you?
Mario: Oh my god, describing oneself is always so difficult…
I’m 27 years old. I am studying Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts. I started at Matthias Herrmann class (art & photography), which I really loved. Now I’m at the Mona Hahn’s class, doing projects about fashion and fine arts. I’m very much into fine arts, but I always had a big interest in fashion and also how these disciplines crossover.
One and a half years ago I got a job in a little concept store called “at first sight”. Since I’m working there, the shop has changed a lot. We renovated in autumn and reopened the store. Now there are two sections, the first section was kept in an old Viennese architecture and interior style, the second part is all white, it is there where I’m going to show my installation.
Nowadays I do all the creative stuff for “at first sight” like photography, website, shop display…
Lara: Did you find then in “at first sight” a place to find this crossover between fashion and arts?
Mario: I’m really close with the owners (Vivien & Petra) which makes it very relaxed working there. This job gives me the possibility to visit fashion weeks in Paris, Berlin… and to get to know the fashion business.
So yes, working in this concept store and spending a lot of time there, makes me think about lots of hows in displaying fashion: How you can represent fashion, how can you contribute with it to increase sales, how to do so in a contemporary way…
I think it’s very important to rethink displaying all the time.
Lara: How is your way of working?
Mario: I think I’m quite serious about my projects. I always work very strict and straight. I’m not that kind of artist who produces several pieces a week. My work is always very exact and clean and it takes a while to get through the process of conceptual design and implementation. Also I do not only work with photography but also with mixed media like video and installation.
Lara: What is photography for you? How do you understand the relation between photography and reality? Why are you using photography for your project in at first sight?
Mario: Roland Barthes said that taking photographes is like taking pictures of something already dead, lost and gone. The one photographed is an eidolon as you take a photo of him. A silhouette of the kingdom of the dead. I began to think about Roland Barthes’ theory in terms of fashion and fashion photography, which is very short-dated because of the permanent pressure to produce new collections and pictures of that new collections.
Lara: One of the most interesting things for me about your project is the relation between photography and real objects, the irony between the 2D reality from photography transformed into 3D while incorporating real objects…
Mario: Using real objects in combination with photographic prints, makes my pieces very 3 dimensional and undead. I try not to see photography as something flat and two dimensional, because it is not. The print itself has a depth and photography to me is something very plastic. What is very important for my pieces is how they are installed. The exhibition space and the space the work opens up has to match in my mind. So, I do think a lot about displaying. Which leads us to the upcoming exhibition.
For this work I’m going to use object frames. The prints and the jewelry will be embedded into this object frames. Which makes the work very three dimensional. The fact that I cut the print / the photograph as a portrayal so to say, and then put on real objects, makes it even more three dimensional. The spectator can see that there is a cut in the print, which makes the print itself very dimensional. At the moment I think photography as sculpture.
Lara: That’s a really interesting way to play with photography, and it turns even more, when cats are being portrayed…Why cats as “jewel carriers”? And why this kind of cats?
Mario: The spectator is going to see an assemblage with naked cats (called sphynx) and jewelry. First of all I thought about using human models doing life-size prints of girls and guys wearing jewelry. But as more I discussed the project with Hannes Baumann from Büro Baumann, the jewelry designer with whom I’m collaborating in the project shown at the 12 festival, I had this idea of using cats instead of humans. And that idea was totally matching with his new collection… as you will all see at the opening :)
These sphynx cats are very special. They are very intelligent, intrusive but cuddly. The fact that they have no fur makes them very human. I think that humans are different from animals because of the fur, which we have lost over the years :)
We domesticate them and they have something we do not have. But the interesting thing for me is that these special cats don’t have fur so there is a missing gap…
Thinking about using naked cats as models for fashion, especially jewelry, made totally sense to me. The skin, the eyes, the gaze… In my mind there is this link to human models. Fashion models have to act and be how the business wants them to be. These cats are so overbred… they also have to be how their owners want them to be… So this is what I like about using them. The installation is going to look very aesthetically, but there is this irritating moment when you think about the conditions of fashion and how models are sometimes treated and how they are the object of desire projections.
Lara: Then we do have a busy day on the 2nd of June!
Mario: The opening is going to be on the 2nd of june at 6pm at Kirchengasse 24/5 1070 in Vienna. One hour before, at 5pm, there is the opening at Common People and one hour later, at 7pm, is the opening of Meshit + Daliah spiegel at Wood Wood. As the locations are very close to each other, I think this is very good for the audience to be able to see everything in one evening, without traveling through the whole city. You can start at “Common people”, come to at “at first sight” and then go to “Wood Wood”.
Discover more from Mario in his website: http://mariokiesenhofer.com/
And about “at first sight”: www.atfirstsight.at
Text : Lara Garcia
Pictures: Mario Kiesenhofer