John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015, Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound, 48 minutes 30 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery

Program of Exhibitions 2020

The 2020 program of exhibitions opens with an extensive solo exhibition by filmmaker and screenwriter John Akomfrah (b. 1957 in Accra, Ghana, lives in London). His atmospheric films probe the structure of memory, the diasporic experiences of migrants, and the historical, social, and political roots of postcolonialism. Michael E. Smith (*1977 in Detroit, lives in Providence, Rhode Island) typically assembles his installations using found objects such as discarded items of everyday life and organic materials.

In early summer, Sophie Thun (b. 1985, lives in Vienna) will examine the dialectic between the scene of production and the presentation of the work, the setting of the artist’s production, and the physical presence of the body.

Viennese multimedia artist Verena Dengler (b. 1981 in Vienna, lives in Vienna) will show a selection of new works in the Secession’s main gallery. In her films, Emily Wardill (b.1977 in Rugby, UK, lives in London) focuses on the mechanics of storytelling, language as a malleable medium, and the interplay between gesture and word. American artist Suellen Rocca (1943 – 2020), a representative of the Chicago Imagists, will present her symbol-rich pictures and sculptures in the Grafisches Kabinett.

Albanian painter Edi Hila (b. 1944 in Shkodra, lives in Tirana, Albania), a meticulous observer of everyday life and the changes in post-communist Albania, will exhibit sequences of his representational pictures in the Secession’s main gallery. In Dineo Seshee Bopape’s (b.1981 in Polokwane, lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) haunting installations and videos, the history of her native South Africa prompts reflections on memory and hegemony over land and bodies in relation to the lived experiences of Africans. Pop-cultural references, odd parallels, dystopian and post-internet aesthetics, subversive tactics, and a penchant for humor and irony are the common elements in these three short films and characteristics of the work of the New York-based artists’ collective DIS (2010 founded in New York).

The year’s programming concludes with a presentation by Danh Vō (b. 1975 in Bà Ria, Vietnam, lives in Berlin and Mexico City). His conceptual works and installations often build on his personal experiences to address larger historical, social, and political concerns. The audiovisual works and installations by Lawrence Abu Hamdan (b. 1985 in Amman, Jordan, lives in Beirut, Libanon) explore the political implications of language and communication. Till Megerle’s (b. 1979 in Bayreuth, lives in Vienna and Berlin) figurative drawings often show scenes involving oddly convoluted and deformed bodies.

The exhibitions by Maria Hassabi. TIMES and by Carlos Bunga have been postponed until 2021.


February 21 – June 21, 2020
John Akomfrah, Hauptraum
Michael E. Smith, Galerie, Grafisches Kabinett

Early summer – June 21, 2020
Sophie Thun, Grafisches Kabinett

July 3 – August 30, 2020
Verena Dengler, Hauptraum
Emily Wardill, Galerie
Suellen Rocca, Grafisches Kabinett

Mid September – beginning of November, 2020
Edi Hila, Hauptraum
Dineo Seshee Bopape, Galerie
DIS, Grafisches Kabinett

End of November 2020 – end of January, 2021
Danh Vō, Hauptraum
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Galerie
Till Megerle, Grafisches Kabinett

Permanent Presentation: Gustav Klimt, Beethoven Frieze (1902)
2020: Beethoven – Painting and Music in cooperation with the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra