Commuting 2018a is the official exhibition of the Austrian Embassy in Sofia for 2018, in the year when Austria assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU.
It is no coincidence that it was Olaf Osten who was invited for its realisation—a contemporary artist from Vienna actively and purposefully working on problématiques of European societies, borders and their surmounting, the intellectual and historical relations between cultures, the perception of present-day society as an integral whole, made up of millions of people aiming at a single human goal.
Olaf Osten is a wonderful draughtsman. Every day, he draws in his pocket notebooks scenes from the life surrounding him, or those that are the fruits of his imagination. In these notebooks, various geographic maps of different continents are often printed, and the artist draws directly on them. Thus, the drawing becomes a part of geography, and vice versa. The private becomes a continuation of the objective—a wonderful metaphor for the fact that in today’s world our personal story is an immutable part of something larger, which we define with concepts such as ‘society’, ‘politics’ or ‘history’.
Once the drawings in the notebooks are ready, the artist prints them in large format. Thus, (unexpectedly even for him) the small, fine drawings turn into monumental objects that inspire awe with their scale and scope.
The artist says of his art: ‘I am a universalist and a realist who usually works without specific concepts. With my works, I try to grapple with the effect of the spectacular and its instrumentalising, focusing on the non-spectacular. I have had enough of competition and hype. Through my works, I am constantly trying to secure space for myself. Let us call it air, spaciousness, freedom, potential and, ultimately, happiness (an eternal theme and а universal necessity). It seems that most people today are constantly fighting for this (sometimes in the context of social ties or in terms of work, or both together) by wanting to decide how they themselves live, without other forces or personalities dictating to them what to do. We try not to place ourselves under the dictates of certain politicians, or of money. I am talking about this comfortable and wonderful place for us, and not about life in isolation and without connection to others.’
Olaf Osten is an artist of the Galerie bäckerstraße4, Vienna. His works are represented in the collections of the Austrian Chancellor Office; the International Peace Institute; Wien Museum; the Complexity Science Hub, Vienna; and the Austrian Chamber of Labour. He has also created remarkable works of graphic design for the Impulstanz Festival, Vienna; Wiener Festwochen or mumok / Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna.
Boris Kostadinov is a curator who lives and works in both Vienna and Berlin. He is the Artistic Director of FLUCA: Austrian Cultural Pavilion and LS43 Gallery, Berlin, and has curated projects for the Ernst Hilger Gallery, Galerie bäckerstraße4, IG Bildende Kunst (Vienna), Kunstraum LS43 (Berlin), ICI, Radiator Gallery, the Leo Kuelbs Collection (New York), Manifesta 11 (Zurich), Trafo (Budapest), and Forum Stadtpark (Graz).