eSeL.at is an Art-Platform in Vienna, Austria. Founded 1998 by Lorenz Seidler, it provides a weekly newsletter "eSeL Mehl", various mailing lists, a photo-archive and an event-database. eSeL ist also initiating, curating and conducting various art projects.
eSeL ran the e-basis-wien_MQ in Vienna's Museumsquartier from October 2002 until September 2003 and is one of the founding members of the Netznetz community in 2004. eSeL organizes the ARTmART-exhibitions in the Kuenstlerhaus Wien since 2007 together with Cheapart Gallery Greece and Austrian artist Christian Rupp.
The label eSeL (also serving as a nick name for founder Lorenz Seidler) prototypically represents the crossover of the roles of artist, curator, online medium and infrastructure-provider in contemporary artistic practise in the New media genres.
“Esel” means “donkey” in German. The label originates in the phonetic pronunciation of its founder's initials and soon became standalone brand, expanding its animal analogies into a multitude of animals-participants. Qualities attributed to the eponymous animal are consciously matching with the initiative's characteristics: stubbornness (autonomy and independence), grey fur (searching for options beyond the polarity of right/wrong or good/bad), long ears (overhearing insider's information), asininity (asking alleged “stupid” questions).
eSeL aims at revealing and changing conventions and coherences in the art field – putting a special focus on structural implications and representation in the media sphere.
“Kunst kommt von Kommunizieren” (engl.“art derives from communication”) is eSeL's slogan - Contributions of the term “art” are shown as a constant process of (transitory) quality agreements.
The eSeL-initiative grew from an independent online medium for of art information and event listings to an institutional carrier and server for art activities in Vienna, combined with focused interventions through projects, performances and exhibitions.
Current audio features by eSeL remix statements and sources of various contexts and origins, unveiling hidden implications and experimenting with new ways of representation. Since 2006 these “discourse remixes” developed into staged performances including “Tableaux Vivants” with audience participation.
(transl.MY opinion is also YOUR opinion)
Criticizing the irrelevance of uninformed, incoherent and yet influential discourse in talkshows that aim to reach target groups instead of well-founded conclusions, eSeL used his invitation for a 5-day-appearance in the live-format Talk of Town on Austrian's Puls TV to sell his opinion via internet.
After four days of live appearance in the show (and promotion of the auction) eSeL's Lorenz Seidler was paid 18 Euros by the Viennese artist Philipp Drössler to insist the absurd interrelation between "violence in German television" and "the stability of meat prices" (German original: "Mehr Gewalt im deutschen Fernsehen, für stabile Schnitzelpreise") – entirely ignorant of the current topic discussed. This absurd performance was boosted by a Call-in by the art project's co-author Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom who was speaking for the allegedly unsatisfied buyer of his opinion. This dadaistic intervention lead to a complete make-over of the show that now features changing experts commenting on the issues discussed.
UPDATE Unplugged (August 2004)
In the research process leading to UPDATE exhibition eSeL (with Philippe Glatz) segregated ten young artists in an alpine cabin 5000 feet in the Austrian mountains. Usually operating in urban context (most of them with internet and new media) the artists had to work (and reflect) under unaccustomed circumstances: ten days without warm water or internet. The artistic output created and the issues discussed have been included in the UPDATE-exhibition. Link
Reaching a massive young audience beyond the art circles eSeL's information services deliberately feature upcoming initiatives next to well-established art positions from all fields of artistic practice in Vienna (Fine Arts, performance, dance, art-in-public space, film, media art, music and civil society's artistic activities, inviting participation by new artists as well as the audience).
He who calls himself „Esel“ (donkey) is probably Vienna's most interesting contact for art- and culture – and is, not only for that, anything else but a donkey. (Thomas Rottenberg)
eSeL in the press: here