Exhibition 21.09.23 - 15.10.23, Di - So 11:00 - 19:00 Entry: Free

steirischer herbst ’23

Villa Perpetuum Mobile

Guest production

In our imagination, Forum Stadtpark turns into the residence of a dissident’s dissident, the physicist, poet, and erstwhile mental patient Stefan Marinov (1931–1997). Unsatisfied with opposing the communist government of his native Bulgaria, Marinov also took up arms against Einstein’s theory of relativity. He emigrated in the 1970s and spent the last decades of his life in Graz, where he founded his own Institute of Fundamental Physics while working a day job as a groom.

Marinov’s main energies were focused on inventing a perpetuum mobile. Many of his colleagues, including Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, considered him a fraud. Nevertheless, Marinov enjoyed an international reputation among followers of alternative physics. He traveled broadly, including to California, where his theories fell on grateful esoteric ears. But when his experiments failed, he jumped to his death from an outdoor stairwell of the University of Grazʼs library. The installation in Forum Stadtpark combines Marinov’s books and papers with works by artists exploring physical principles that haunted him.

A group exhibition with:

  • Vadim Fishkin
  • Pedro Gómez-Egaña
  • Michael Stevenson
  • Hollis Frampton
  • Alice Creischer
  • Stefan Marinovs Nachlass

- Exhibition opening: 21.9., 13.00 - 19.00

- Exhibition talk: 10.10 at 17:00 Forum Stadtpark

Stefan Marinov, a double dissident: Herwig G. Höller in conversation with Heinrich Pfandl Villa Perpetuum Mobile

more about the exhibition here: Villa Perpetuum Mobile

Villa Perpetuum Mobile

Villa Perpetuum Mobile

Die Künstler:innen

Vadim Fishkin

  • Dark Times (2019–20)
  • Windy (2021)
    The dream of perpetual motion has long been a central topic of Vadim Fishkin. Dark Times underlines the endless attempts to understand, measure, or control time, even when it appears to be “suspended,” “bright,” or “dark.” Windy represents another form of perpetual motion: a floor ventilator continuously creates vortices of flying paper silhouettes projected onto the wall, evoking an archive that refuses to settle down.

Vadim Fishkin (1965, Penza, Russia) is an artist who explores the relationships between science, personal experience, desire, and imagination, between metaphysics and pragmatism, and between the artificial and the real. He mainly investigates scientific methods, using technological advances for poetic purposes. Many of his works are informed by a distinctive sense of humor. He has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including four Venice Biennials (1995, 2003, 2005, and 2017); Manifesta 1, Rotterdam; Manifesta 10, Saint Petersburg; the 3rd Istanbul Biennial; and the 9th Shanghai Biennale. He lives in Ljubljana.

Pedro Gómez-Egaña

  • The Believers (2019)
    The dining area of Villa Perpetuum Mobile is taken up by Pedro Gomez-Egaña’s installation, mounted here as part of Stefan Marinov’s fictitious home. The work’s title comes from the name of a Californian literary magazine, popular with the so-called creative class. The table doubles as a place for work and entertainment, as often happens with young professionals of a digital age whose beginnings Marinov saw and whose earliest start-up gurus might have courted him on visits to America.

Pedro Gómez-Egaña (1976, Bucaramanga, Colombia) is an artist who produces immersive spaces that seek to modulate audiences’ perception. His works problematize cultural definitions of time and temporality against the backdrop of a world dominated by saturation and speed, exploring how time is experienced due to our interaction with media culture. They have recently been shown at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden; Munch Museum, Oslo; Oslo Opera House; Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku; Istanbul Biennial; Contour Biennial, Mechelen; Performa, New York; Kochi-Muziris Biennial; and Marrakech Biennial, among others. He lives in Oslo.

Michael Stevenson

  • Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare (2014–23)
    Michael Stevenson’s installation tests a doctrine once proposed by mathematician, playwright, and bodyguard José de Jésus Martínez, who observed frequent confusion at a door: “Will it yield with a push … or pull?” He understood this moment as an encounter with pure evil. Two doors from Forum Stadtpark are hooked up to a test mechanism. Their swing is controlled via pneumatic hosing, tracing them back to a remote room. Here, four AI bots play different computer games, whose results determine the door’s yield and multiply the encounters with evil.

Michael Stevenson (1964, Inglewood, New Zealand) is an artist and educator who uses historical research and reconstruction to produce installations and artworks that index social, economic, and ideological global forces. His works frequently confront viewers with the material and tangible consequences of such forces and the physical realities they produce. Stevenson represented New Zealand at the 50th Venice Biennale and participated in numerous other biennials. Recent solo shows took place at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam; and Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne. He lives in Berlin.

Hollis Frampton

  • Maxwell’s Demon (1968)
    Hollis Framptonʼs short film is a classic of experimental cinema. Frampton, a student of Ezra Pound, was fascinated by physical metaphors, including James Clerk Maxwell’s famous thermodynamic thought experiment. By separating fast and slow gas molecules in a container, Maxwellʼs imaginary demon heats one half of it and cools the other, so that a heat engine could use this temperature difference to run forever. Frampton’s film enacts this endless motion, showing footage of a man doing push-ups over and over again.

Hollis Frampton (1936, Wooster, OH, United States–1984, Buffalo, NY, United States) was an avant-garde filmmaker, photographer, poet, and art theorist, best known for his structural films from the 1960s and 1970s. In works such as Zorns Lemma (1970), Nostalgia (1971), and Critical Mass (1971), he combines found footage, photography, voice-overs, and time-based effects to explore the materiality of film and the relationship between sound, image, and language. Frampton had a keen interest in science and math and was also a pioneer of computer-generated imagery and video synthesis.

Alice Creischer

  • Venetin Coliu (2023)
    Alice Creischer’s newly commissioned installation takes its name from a self-perpetuating magnetic motor Stefan Marinov developed in 1992 with two collaborators from Treviso, one of many similar experiments. Its organic materials refer to Marinov’s day job as a horse groom and to the biological basis of all machines. Its elements explore the drastic ecological effects of our own time’s hunger for energy and the flawed idealism of Marinov’s heyday, when free energy was a utopia on the same level as that of the free market.

Alice Creischer (1960, Gerolstein, Germany) is an artist and curator whose artistic and theoretic agenda within institutional and economic critique has evolved over twenty years, recently focusing on the early history of capitalism and globalization. Recent solo exhibitions took place at The Wallach Art Gallery, New York; Galerie Wedding, Berlin; and Culturgest, Lisbon. She took part in the Kyiv Biennial 2015; Bergen Assembly 2013; 13th Istanbul Biennial; and Documenta 12, Kassel, among others. Her practice as cocurator of exhibitions such as The Potosí Principle (2010) correlates with her work as an artist and theorist. Creischer lives in Berlin.

Stefan Marinovs Nachlass

When Stefan Marinov committed suicide in 1997, he left behind an extensive body of work and a massive correspondence, part of which Herwig G. Höller, then a student of Slavonic Studies, retrieved and kept. As his papers show, Marinov’s dissent from post-Einsteinian physics began while he was still working in Bulgaria, where he was admitted to a psychiatric ward because of his experiments. A consummate writer of petitions and complaints, Marinov bombarded journals with contributions and wrote long responses to every rejection, eventually self-publishing books in the form of samizdat. In his enthusiasm for free energy, he became a key advocate for the spiritual community Methernitha and their Testatika machine, which he thought was a genuine perpetuum mobile. Some of Marinov’s supporters believed that his death was not a suicide, but an attempt to erase a legitimate source of free energy.