One of the central themes of Linda Bilda’s work is the production of (counter) public spheres. The artist pursues this interest in her (comic) drawings, which are published in newspapers and specialized magazines, forcefully setting the scene with social-critical text production, as well as through her membership in the editorial collective of the feminist art magazine Die weisse Blatt or as the founder of the now legendary Artclub Wien.
What links Linda Bilda with the Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Ernst Schmidt jr. (1938-1988) is an interest in collective working processes to promote non-hierarchical images of society and the development of text-image relationships that separate visual and verbal material from conventional textures and compose new sequences.
This intensive occupation with Schmidt jr.’s artistic stance and an interest in presenting his film-historical and theoretical work as well as largely unpublished manuscripts and concepts to the public form the basis for the exhibition Linda Bilda for Ernst Schmidt jr. in the Galerie of the Secession. The exhibition Linda Bilda for Ernst Schmidt jr. is not intended to be a retrospective of the filmmaker, who died in 1988, but rather the archive material that Linda Bilda has researched highlights certain points of Schmidt jr.’s remarkable work, simultaneously reinserting it into current art and media discourses on the basis of selected thematic fields.
The information consisting of correspondence, posters, film frames, concepts and photos, which are transferred to the walls of the gallery using various techniques (including photo emulsion, frottage), is organized around the fields of the economy of (avant-garde) film and of filmmaking, music, the crossover of film and fine arts, success and failure, history versus subhistory (the preservation and the disappearance of information), and collective artistic working methods. An Expanded Cinema installation, the premiere of a temporary exhibition concept and the inclusion of positions of contemporary video artists (such as Terese Schulmeister or Anna Kowalska, Mikki Muhr and Ulrike Müller) integrate Schmidt jr.’s endeavors to think of filmic space and the promotion of a film culture in an expanded context.
Ernst Schmidt jr. was an independent filmmaker and film historian in one, and one of the central figures of the Austrian avant-garde film scene of the 1970s. His film work includes experimental documentary films (including films on Viennese Actionism), films reflecting on the material or the cinema itself, Expanded Cinema actions, concept films intervening in social mechanisms, a narrative feature film and animated film.
“The medium itself is primarily the filmmaker’s theme. The mutability of the medium, whether in detail or as a whole, first enables new information. At the same time, free information means information that deviates from conventional norms. No film should be the same as another. The filmmaker constantly has new, mutable and expandable possibilities at his disposal. Yet Ernst Schmidt jr. had no fixed concept of film. For him, film is a medium of investigation and discussion, not only of oneself, but also of one’s own context, music, fine arts and literature, and problems of social reality. His entire filmic work is a single transgression of the norms of film language, the techniques and the genre, thus playing with and constantly questioning the values and norms of the avant-garde as well.” (Ernst Schmidt jr. on Ernst Schmidt jr.)
Ernst Schmidt jr. formulated this intermedia and uncompromising perspective of film culture very early as the co-author (together with Hans Scheugl) of the publication Eine Subgeschichte des Films. Lexikon des Avantgarde-, Experimental- und Undergroundfilms (1974) and numerous other published articles and texts.