Herwig Turk

Anamnese einer Landschaft

Herwig Turk, unstet / unstable, 2018
Herwig Turk, Marginal_col.1_reg.3, 2018, Detail from Marginal, 2020
Herwig Turk, Schichtung / Stratification, 2020

The Austrian artist Herwig Turk has been dealing with the exceptional landscape of the Tagliamento for years. The Tagliamento in the upper Italian region of Friuli is one of the very few unregulated rivers in the Alps. It rises at the Mauria Pass near the Austrian border and flows into the Adriatic Sea 170 kilometres further south between Bibione and Lignano Sabbiadoro. The riverbed is characterised by extensive, meandering gravel and sand banks that change dynamically with the water depending on the season.


The Tagliamento is an extraordinary ecosystem and has an above-average diversity of animal and plant species compared to other European rivers. Such a wild river landscape is an unfamiliar sight for most people today, its rare naturalness is impressive.


In his multi-layered work, Herwig Turk presents the river areas as places with different uses, cultural attributions and evaluations. Anamnese einer Landschaft is presented comprehensively for the first time at KUNST HAUS WIEN. The expansive installation consists of several X-ray light boxes of different sizes, screen printing screens, inscribed glass plates and a four-channel video installation. On these different supports, the artist has mounted his photographic observations of the wild river landscape in a multi-faceted way. Turk documents the geological conditions and changes, such as those caused by the 1976 earthquake, records the economic exploitation of the raw materials gravel and water, follows the traces of warlike conflicts during the First World War and sheds light on the topic of nature conservation using ecological research facilities on site. By portraying the river as a dynamic, complex system of geopolitical activities and transformations, the artist exemplarily negotiates central facets of the understanding of nature in Central Europe.


Herwig Turk was born in 1964 in St. Veit an der Glan and works as an artist in Vienna. His projects arise in the field of tension between art, technology and science. Since 2006, the landscape as an experimental laboratory of industrial, military and logistical activities has taken a central position in his work.


His works have been shown at the Galerie Georg Kargl in Vienna, the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, the Centre for Technology and Society De Waag in Amsterdam, the TESLA Laboratory for Media Art Berlin, the Museu das Comunicações Lisbon, the MAK Museum für angewandte Kunst Wien, the Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra, Transmediale Berlin, the Seoul Museum of Art and the Museum für Moderne Kunst Klagenfurt, among others.


Since 2014, Herwig Turk has been teaching as a senior artist in the Social Design Department at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

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