IM ANFANG WAR DIE FRAGE
Which one is the most beautiful question? How many questions do exist? Which is your favorite question? How often do you ask yourself something? What do the others ask themselves? How often do you ask others something? Which are the right questions? Do wrong ones exist? Did everything start with a question? Which one was the very first? Did the question or the answer exist first? Are you always looking for an answer? Does every question has an answer? Does questioning represent a method? Does the insight mean the end of the question? Does the question disappear beyond the insight?
It is an artists character to ask questions. Thereby sooner or later the question comes up: what do other people ask? The Austrian artist Jochen HÖLLER (*1977) confrontates in his current exhibition „Im Anfang war die Frage“ (In the beginning was the question) at Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art Vienna the visitors wit 350.000 questions. Questions as they are for instance asked online, on the world wide web, this chaotic conglomeration consisting of huge amounts of data shivering between fact and fiction. Answers to many questions can be found within seconds through search engines: videos of cats, weather forecasts or lifehacks.
But what if you are not looking for the answers but exclusively for the questions?
Jochen Höller filtered out 333.333 online asked questions and collected them on 1594 pages in his Das Große Buch der Fragen (The big book of questions). An artist, who dissects books and to whom the reduced content, i.e. cutted out questions, serves as working material, is also able do it the other way: He again assembles it to a book. We can see an enormous catalogue of questions bounded for eternity, packed with questions which maybe have lost their relevanze within days.
Universe III gives a view on a part of our milky way, a view on 16.000 stars, which have been replaced through 16.000 question marks. Thereby the collected question marks are released from their original context and levitate in space. In the middle of them a cloud is hanging from the ceiling and floating through the exhibition space. It is a interwoven web of questions, cutted out from 63 different books. Questions, if they wouldn´t have been arranged into a floating cloud but would have been placed next to each other, came up to a length of 1.8 km. The cloud acts as a projection surface, delicate and light at first view, but becoming heavier and heavier because of the inherent meaning (as the water drops are replaced by questions): it symbolizes the endless search for questions and the vacuum caused by the missing questions.
Höllers seemingly passiv works appear as a pure form of the art of Dialectics:
A question leads to a thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The question appears as the origin of every answer an also as the origin of this exhibition.
The form of the collages is thereby defined by their content: the number of questions or question marks.
8Besides books also newspaper are being dissected: like a social survey, questions of different newspaper are brought face to face. Which questions did occupy Austria in 1986 -shortly after the Chernobyl Disaster- and which ones do nowadays? Which ones where asked shortly before the election and are they still part of the debate?
The temporal and geografical focus of the works with newspaper is also fundamental in Fragen der Religionen. Bibel – Koran (Religious questions. Bible – Quran): the cutted out questions are arranged in chronological order in 23 columns on black cardboard.
Opposed to it, Fragen der Aufklärung (Questions of the Enlightenment), a work that shows all questions of important writings of the movement (by Kant, Voltaire and Hume).
While science relies on empirically proven answers, religion hold on to its worldview. Even though the content differs, both are reliant on the form: the question.
Notwithstanding the ressemblance to mathematical matrices, it is not meant to be a scientific utterance.
Quite the contrary, Jochen Höllers pseudoempirical work impresses with fine humor.
It is a translation of the filtered contents in a new system, which allows the beholder to consider new perspectives. Questions are stringed together, the result being just more questions – but maybe the answer lies already within them?