“Calling into Question Yesterday’s Position.”

Georg Schöllhammer in an interview with art historian and critic Helmut Draxler


“The occasion for this talk is formed by your three recent publications.1 I find that they can be read in parallel because they arose out of a conflict situation that describes a certain historical moment very well. One of them, “Gefährliche Substanzen” (Hazardous Substances), is a large-scale study of art criticism, in other words, an attempt to rescue an anti-idealistic art criticism from its own partisans and to inscribe the motif of critical art in a contemporary discourse that is cognizant of the dialectic concealed in this discourse. The book is called “Hazardous Substances,” I believe, because it is about the mixing of the great motifs of a universalist paradigm and its dissolution in the avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s, about their recontextualization since the 1980s.

The second book is dedicated to the work of Fareed Armaly, whose appearance on the Cologne scene at the end of the 1980s shook up a great many things, and who brought new constellations to the playing field with his discourse contexts. Among other things, the book makes the attempt to inscribe the motifs of a substantially local practice and a substantially contextual practice in a paradigm of critical art that has turned its attention to completely different motifs since the 1990s. It wonderfully describes how the new essentializations that have gained entrée in the art world through the anti-globalization movement or the discourses of the Italian operaists bristle against the actualities that critical art began in the 1980s to take as an occasion to reflect on certain motifs, in formal terms as well.”



  1. The text is based on an interview conducted on the occasion of the presentation of the catalogue for the exhibition “Shandyism–Authorship as Genre” on September 3, 2007 at the Vienna Secession. Our thanks to the Society of Friends of the Secession. 1 Vgl. Helmut Draxler, Gefährliche Substanzen. Zum Verhältnis von Kritik und Kunst, Berlin 2007; Helmut Draxler, Space, Reference and Representation in Fareed Armaly/Die Gewalt des Zusammenhangs. Raum, Repräsentation und Referenz bei Fareed Armaly, Berlin 2007 (both books are published in the series PolYPen at b_books Berlin); also Helmut Draxler (Hg.), Shandyismus. Autorschaft als Genre, Catalogue for the exhibition under the same title at the Wiener Secession and at the Kunsthaus Dresden, Stuttgart 2007 (Verlag Merz and Solitude).