Small Habit Revolution

curated by Matthias Michalka

mumok, Vienna

July 12 – October 7, 2018

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Story in Reverse is a multi-part slide installation based on Ilse Aichinger’s Mirror Story (1949), a linguistic experiment that narrates a young woman’s tragically failed life. In Aichinger’s text the beginning and the end of life merge, as the story of the woman starts at her grave and is then told backwards by a second-person narrator. Her death is followed by an illegal abortion, she then falls in love, and becomes younger and younger, up to the day of her birth. Mirror Story contains contradictory premises and flashbacks, symbols and signs, and detailed depictions of the emotional world of the main character. Aichinger’s reversal of a life story structurally denies both chronology and causality.

For Story in Reverse Loretta Fahrenholz worked with graphic designers and illustrators from the online service platform Fiverr, who freely retell Aichinger’s short story in drawings and comics. Fahrenholz uses analogue slide projectors to show the resulting visuals in the exhibition gallery, using projections of different sizes and in different directions, and with varying degrees of clarity. In the carousel slide projectors, the different versions of Mirror Story are repeated as a backward sequence from death to birth.


The second older work that Small Habit Revolution refers to also involves the death of a young woman. This is Maya Deren’s avant-garde film classic Meshes of the Afternoon, a fourteen-minute short film that Deren made together Alexander Hammid, her husband at the time, in 1943. Meshes of the Afternoon shows a woman’s nightmare in gloomy hallucinatory images. She is seen pursuing a figure cloaked in black, going about daily business and routines, and then at the end of the afternoon she commits suicide.This story draws on Deren’s personal memories and dreams and was made in her own house. It offers no easy interpretation. By using a large number of filmic devices—repetition, a shaky camera, rapid cuts, shadow, mysterious symbols, and more—Meshes of the Afternoon leaves a deeply surrealist and irritating impression.

There are now many remakes and parodies of Maya Deren’s avant-garde work in the Internet. Loretta Fahrenholz takes short excerpts from these new versions, mainly published on YouTube by young people, and with them she reconstructs Deren’s film with its original camera angles and sequences. In her film collage Mashes of the Afternoon, Fahrenholz uses Deren’s stylistic device of repetition, and she multiplies and varies the perspective by using different sources, thus generalizing the original surreal and depressive scenario by transferring it into the present day.

Courtesy of the artist

T293, Rome
Ada Project, Rome
Liebaert Projects, Kortrijk
Der TANK, Basel
Édouard Montassut, Paris
Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Rome
Giorgio Galotti, Turin