Franz Kapfer

For God, Kaiser and Fatherland

Kapfer’s time at Büchsenhausen was spent conducting on-site research for his project Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland (en.: For God, Kaiser and Fatherland). In 2009—during the bicentennial of Tyrolean hero Andreas Hofer’s freedom struggle and as a kind of critical comment on it—this research led to an eponymous exhibition at the Tyrolean Artists’ Association’s Kunstpavillon in Innsbruck. A publication documenting the exhibition was published in 2011 as part of the Büchs’n’Books—Art and Knowledge Production in Context series. The book was published in cooperation with the Folio Verlag.

How relevant can the memory of the Enlightenment’s war heroes or a defunct monarchy be today? Could the way we deal with this memory now actually encourage something socially visionary, beyond the exploitation of “witnesses of history” for purely touristic purposes? And if so, is it possible to free these witnesses from the ideologies inscribed in them, enabling a more democratic view of the future?

Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland is a research project related to this, configured as the staging of pieces from monuments commemorating battles that took place between the Enlightenment and the restoration. The artist has captured details of these monuments, translated them into different formats and compiled them into a theme park of modern Austrian history. This involves a two-fold critique: first, the ideological freighting of identity-reinforcing symbols and their exploitation, and second the way these are trivialized in our consumer society.

Franz KAPFER (*1971 in Fürstenfeld) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1996-2005). His solo exhibitions include, among others: Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland, Kunstpavillon, Innsbruck (2009), Zur Errettung des Christentums, Galerie im Traklhaus Salzburg (2008), MMK – Stiftung Wörlen Passau (2007), Galerie Hohenlohe in Vienna (2006), and Salzburger Kunstverein (2006). Group exhibitions include: Kardinal König Kunstpreis Salzburg (2007), 30. Österreichischer Grafikwettbewerb, Galerie im Taxispalais Innsbruck (2007), Exitus. Tod alltäglich, Künstlerhaus in Vienna, Soufflé—Eine Massenausstellung, Kunstraum Innsbruck (all 2007). Franz Kapfer lives in Vienna.

In the context of the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory 2008 at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen in Innsbruck, Kapfer published the book Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland (2011).