In silver letters on a green background in a 15 metre - long sequence of posters there is an alphabetical list of all the destinations served by Austrian Airlines. Other parameters break open the alphabetical order. Mainly the years designated to each destination indicating the year of the first Austrian Airlines flight there. At first glance the destinations and years make the poster appear purely informative (although clearly not a flight schedule). However, a closer reading reveals social, economic and political UNDERPINNINGS. Since civilaviation is highly dependent on external factors, the date when a new route was opened up is of a pointer to political changes in the countries involved. The reading of the names of the cities and the years is very personal, without the artist needing to usurp individual expression to make it so. Felix Gonzalez-Torres shows that a list of destinations which is in itself neutral contains a lot of atmosphere and the beholder finds what he or she wants without having to follow a particular line. This creates travel junctions which join together to form routes through all three tempora. As with the poster of his unmade double-bed ("Untitled", 1991), Felix Gonzalez-Torres interlaces the Austrian Airlines poster project with the question of art in public space. The personal and the political are a part of the same story. The private journey is confronted with its social and political implications while personal memories of journeys and new desires for travel arise. Lacan describes a high wall which surrounds the whole world as far as the question, "Where is the inside, where is the outside?" With the poster project Felix Gonzalez-Torres follows a double strategy for the mutual dynamisation of places: In the case of the Portrait of Austrian Airlines he decided to show a complete poster in the series "Migrateurs" at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Simultaneously the poster reaches a public outside the gallery in 3,000 places in Vienna. Generally it appears that the question of activating spaces is no longer connected to the question of whether this should take place inside or outside of institutions. The decisive question is far more whether and how various spaces can be dynamised. (AS WELL AS INSTEAD OF OR INSTEEAD OF NEITHER NOR) The Vienna stroller in December finds himself in a transitional space without beginning or end point. The modular principle creates perception in sequences. The ever increasing speed of movements in urban space causes human movements to be ever more sluggish until they finally come to a standstill. Felix Gonzalez-Torres confronts the rapid dissolution of pictures with the mobile inertia of one picture, which leads under the frame. Whether he marks out spaces with garlands of light or sets out his unstable "Stacks" to vanish or decorates spaces with posters. Felix Gonzalez-Torres' works always provide the beholder with opportunities for real action. With a conscious proximity to conceptual and minimal conventions the artist creates deviations of from which continue to put the beholder/object rapport to the test. The proximity to the know also comes about because Felix Gonzalez-Torres starts from what is nearby in order to see what is already there in another way. In the process, unexpected symbolic and emotional dimensions reveal themselves behind the conventions of the known.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was born in Cuba in 1957. He now lives and works in New York. Since 1985 member of Group Material. Since 1987 appearance of the Stacks (piles of printed or empty pages which are set out for the beholder to do as he wishes). Parallel to these appear the Candies (accumulations of sweets arranged as a cone or horizontally) as well as various billboard projects. –Hans-Ulrich Obrist