Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, Secession 2007
Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, Secession 2007

Leopold Kessler’s works focus on public space, exploring the topography of cities – from the traffic signs that structure urban life to the modes of behavior influenced by it. The artist’s interventions aim at squares, paths, street signs or street barriers, which serve as material for his sculptures. Moreover he has repeatedly pointed out the gaps that can be found in the systematic organization of social space.

Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007
Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007

For an exhibition at the Neue Galerie in Graz in 2006 Kessler increased the water pressure of the Erzherzog-Johann fountain on the city’s main square, with the effect that for a certain time the water spilled onto the ground around the fountain. Along with this intervention he created a video that displayed the square with the fountain in the middle from a tourist’s point of view. The tourist’s view on the city is covetous and presuming, with the intention to make urban complexity and impermeable mobility legible and more manageable. Although working with public space, Kessler does not see this as a public mission. His unsolicited actions or interventions go almost unnoticed, since they are hidden or appear as authorized acts or construction-related measures.

Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007
Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007

For the Secession Leopold Kessler has created the high-definition video Perforation Kal. 10 mm, which shows a series of interventions at various locations in Vienna. A man, dressed like a street worker (Kessler), is strolling through the quiet early morning streets in a completely self-evident manner. He punches holes in street signs using an oversized hole-puncher, which he has designed especially for this purpose. Perforating the signs seems to involve a lot of effort, requiring considerable strength while making a great deal of racket. Kessler displays an amazing nonchalance in his work and even makes himself liable to an administrative fine. Visiting various locations on one given stroll, he hardly leaves any traces behind. The meaning of these interventions cannot be immediately grasped.

Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007
Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007

Kessler directs the viewer’s attention towards the inversion of visibility and invisibility, since it is precisely the brightly visible neon-orange vest that makes him invisible for most people. Within the exhibition setting Kessler’s interventions even draw international attention.

Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007
Leopold Kessler, Perforation Kal. 10 mm, film still, 2007

Is Leopold Kessler interested in the holes he has punched or the signs? Do the perforated signs still function as traffic signs or have they already become sought-after collector’s items? At what point do the irregularly arranged holes result in a pattern? Can the perforation form a line, a surface as Kessler strolls through the city? Thomas Bernhard describes strolling as an act that motivates and articulates thoughts, reflecting the relation between movement and standstill. Or do these holes simply allude to the use of firearms? Street signs with bullet holes are not an uncommon sight in the outlying areas of large cities. Furthermore the choice of bullet holes is again referring to the tourist's perspective, which seeks out the potential danger as an urban attraction. In this case however, the artist's work is being shown at the Secession, one of Vienna's most photographed buildings and a major tourist sight.



64 pages, 65 color illustrations
author: Johan Frederik Hartle
Secession 2007, ISBN 978-3-902592-00-2

available in the shop

LEOPOLD KESSLER, born in 1976, lives and works in Vienna.
SOLO EXHIBITIONS (Selection): 2007 Import Budapest – Vienna, Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna; 2006 Graz, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz; Interventionen 02-05, Galerie der Stadt Schwaz, Schwaz; 2005 transportable works, Gallery Lombard&Freid, New York; O kunstbuero, Vienna; 2004 untitled, Thomas K. Lang Gallery, Webster University, Vienna; 2003 synchronization, offspace, Vienna; privatisiert, Galerie Corentin Hamel, Paris.
GROUP EXHIBITIONS (Selection): 2006 One Second, One Year, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; on mobility, Trafo, Budapest / Stichting de Appel, Amsterdam; Österreichisches Kulturinstitut, Prague; 2005 clouding europe, Galerie Nadine Gandy, Bratislava; lives&works in Vienna, Kunsthalle, Vienna; Galerie Claus Andersen, Copenhagen; OKAY/O.K, Swiss Institute, New York; Don´t interrupt your activities, Royal College, London; update, Künstlerhaus, Vienna; 2004 Manifesta 05, San Sebastian; Beuys don´t cry, Galleria Zero, Milan; Personne n'est innocent..., Confort Moderne, Poitier; Niemandsland, Künstlerhaus, Vienna; 2003 klimatisch im hoch, Galerie Lisi Hämmerle, Bregenz; VV2, Biennale di Venezia,Venedig; critique is not enough, Shedhalle, Zurich; 2002 Parlez-vous francais, Galerie Hohenlohe&Kalb, Vienna; facing 2, Galerie der Stadt Wels, Wels; haunted by detail, Stichting de Appel, Amsterdam; interim plattform, Galerie Kerstin Engholm, Vienna; big torino, Biennale internazionale arte giovane, Turin.

Installation shots: Pez Hejduk

The exhibitions are realized through support of:
Erste Bank – Partner of the Secession
Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur
Wien Kultur
Friends of the Secession


For further information and photographic material please contact:
Katharina Schniebs
Secession, Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession
Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Vienna
Tel: +43-1-5875307-21, Fax: +43-1-5875307-34