SFKB - The Archive, Vienna 2019

The work of artist, curator and publisher Bernhard Cella addresses contemporary forms of visual art that transform models of production and distribution.

Bernhard Cella wählt für seine Arbeiten eine methodische Herangehensweise, bei der er seine künstlerische Praxis in einem Koordinatensystem entwickelt. Dabei berücksichtigt er sowohl die Rolle der Autorschaft als auch die Zusammenarbeit mit Partnern, die an der Umsetzung seiner Werke beteiligt sind. Das Ergebnis seiner Arbeit, sei es der Salon für Kunstbuch, eine Videoinstallation oder ein Kunstprojekt, entsteht durch einen partizipativen Prozess. Dabei geht es Cella nicht nur um die Einbindung der Öffentlichkeit, sondern vielmehr um die Betonung der Kunst als sozialer Prozess. Es geht darum, das Streben nach Öffentlichkeit selbst zu thematisieren und zur Diskussion zu stellen.

In 2007 he established the Salon für Kunstbuch in Vienna, an ‘organisational undertaking as artwork’, which combines his theoretical and research activities, and his work as a publisher, with a series of temporary performative settings, exhibitions and discussion formats. At the same time, it allows him to investigate the economic and sculptural environment within which artist’s books are conceived, produced and distributed, an environment in which the activities of buying and selling are becoming elements of autonomous artistic practice. He built a full-scale model room – first in Mondscheingasse in Vienna (2007-2017) and later in Belvedere 21 (2011-2019) – in which a bookshop, archive, and location for exhibitions and discussions, are integrated into his own studio as a form of living, transitive network space.

Cella’s complex conceptual approach not only investigates entrepreneurship in art and the artist’s changing role in society but also uses a collaborative process in tracing the close cooperation between artists, producers, publishers, curators and their bibliophile audience. Visitors to the salon become part of a dynamic organisational structure. The interaction between the publications, their relationship with the architecturally unique space created by Cella, and the audience’s opportunity to react and interpret, merge together in a common, constantly changing, transitive experiential space. The Salon für Kunstbuch currently consists of around 22,000 available titles covering all artistic disciplines, including painting, graphic art, photography, performance, concept art, architecture, sound, philosophy and artistic theory, and its combined role as a bookshop and as a place of exhibition, open debate and inspiration is unique in Europe.

Bernhard Cella studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the University for Arts and Industrial Design in Linz and the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg . He led the research project No ISBN at the Center of Art and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Applied Arts Vienna , which investigates international artistic publications that are self-published and hence have no ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Since 2016 he has been continuing this research independently through his project Behind No-ISBN and the Research Institute for Arts and Technology, of which he is a co-founder. His multimedia works have most recently exhibited at FJK3 Vienna (2022), warehouse 421 Abu Dhabi (2021), MMAG Foundation, Amann, /2020), the Beirut Art Center (2019), the Museum Santa Monica, Barcelona (2015), the Casa Bosques, Guadalajara, Mexico, the Kiesler Stiftung, Vienna, Hamburger Kunstverein (2014), MAK Wien (2013), Künstlerhaus Wien, 21er Haus, Vienna (2011) and the Salzburger Kunstverein (2006). His work features in such collections as the Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Albertina Wien, MAK Wien, Lentos, Linz and the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Wien.