Special Exhibition 2019

HOFBURG UNDER THE CARPET

Curated by Georgij Melnikov
Old Court Kitchens, Basement

The carpet has always been a symbol of culture, wealth and power. The nomads of the steppes brought the art of carpet-weaving to Persia, from where the crusaders exported it to Europe. Here they first served as wall tapestries, telling stories and revealing history, such as the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Soon, tapestries covered tables as well. In Latin, they were known as tapes, from which the word tapestry (and the German Tapete, or wallpaper) derives.
Carpets are artworks and decoration, everyday objects and status symbols. You can roll out the red carpet for someone. In German, when you want somebody to remain calm, you tell them to “keep their feet on the carpet”. And occasionally, things are swept under the carpet.

Photo: Gerogij Melnikov

Carpets also cover the hallways and rooms of the Hofburg, starting centuries ago and every day since then, occasionally changing. But who could know all the crowned heads, the statesmen, the dutiful servants, the cheerful guests, the dancers and ball-goers, the participants in conferences and conspiracies, the presenters and representatives, those with leisure and those in haste, the good and the bad, who have walked the carpets of the Hofburg? Who knows their stories?

As part of ART VIENNA, a group of artists has decided to examine the issue of carpets at the Hofburg a bit more closely. Hofburg under the Carpet is the name of the special exhibition at the Old Court Kitchens.

Playfully and pointedly, the presentation offers a critical visualization and questioning of social and political power structures at the historically symbolic locations of Vienna’s Hofburg and Heldenplatz. It starts with various carpets from different events at the Hofburg. Under the guidance of the artist and curator Georgij Melnikov, participants are asked to develop their works form the carpets provided. The event for which the carpet in question was displayed also functions as a thematic meta-level. Whether video, sculpture or painting, all media are acceptable. The carpets were actually used at past events at the Hofburg. Which events, however, is left open to the imagination, and fiction knows no boundaries when we look under the Hofburg carpets.