A rapid development of technology and science, a resultant feeling that reality is speeding up and even out of control: the mood and texture of our current moment strongly resemble those of a century ago. In Eva Grubinger's exhibition “Café Nihilismus,” the two eras interweave. Framed by yellow neon writing, the sequence of sculptures and 2-D works suggests a phantasmal bar: coffee culture and the discursive space around it being central, not least to Vienna, in the early twentieth century and now a staple of twenty-first-century life.
As culture looks back a hundred years to the outset of the First World War, “Café Nihilismus”—its very title pointing to a doubting of established cultural values—suggests a larger, questioning relationship between then and now, evoking such figures as Egon Friedell, Sigmund Freud, Karl Kraus, and Adolf Loos. This slender catalogue simply and beautifully documents Grubinger's exhibition at Kerstin Engholm Gallery in Vienna (May 16–June 21, 2014), and includes a text contribution by Martin Herbert.