Thomas D Trummer

In his essay, Thomas D Trummer takes on the question of the construction of self through encounters with space. Including references to Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin and the spatial aspect of the auratic, affect and phenomenology, phobia and excess, he expands the themes in paragraphs on each of the artists in TOPOPHOBIA.


Instead of asking who we are, Hannah Arendt asked where are we, when we think. Such deeper-lying questions present themselves when the familiar sense of self, in which we are immediately embedded, is shaken to the core. And precisely this happens when the relationship of self to space pushes beyond certainty. When I enter a place, install myself and get my bearings, not only is spatial occupation occurring, but also definition. Definition, here, is not the linguistic or cognitive determination of a concept. Definition, here, means the separation of a particular from a non-particular space. When I am present in a place, then I define it, I privatize it. I occupy it for myself. This can happen either in a concrete space (a room, a cave, a park, a market place) or in a metaphorically defined space around me (family, clique, profession, citizenship, ethnicity, species). Both concrete and metaphorical spaces are spaces which become familiar to me, which I am even, to the extent that it is precisely such demarcations that establish self-awareness in the first place. The shifting relationship with the other engenders affectivity, a self-reference in the experience of space, perhaps also the place of thinking.

1 Translated from the German, Selbstverständnis als Raumverständnis.

For the full essay text please see the publication.


Thomas D. Trummer studied Art History, Philosophy and Music at the University of Graz. Since 2007 he has been Curator Visual Arts at Siemens Stiftung, Munich; Visiting Scholar at ACT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA (2010); Visiting Professor at University for Applied Arts Vienna (2009), Visiting Professor at University for Art and Design, Linz (2009), Hall Curatorial Fellow, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2006); and previously Curator for modern and contemporary art at Oesterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna (1996-2006), Guest Curator at Graz Kunstverein (1994-2000), and Assistant Professor for Contemporary Art and Aesthetics, Department for Art History, Graz University (1990-1996). Trummer has edited various books on art and published widely on issues of contemporary art and aesthetics.

Selection of curated exhibitions: The Waste Land, Atelier Augarten, Wien (2001); Trauer, Atelier Augarten Wien (2003), Panamarenko: Multiples, Atelier Augarten Vienna (2003), Ulysses. Atelier Augarten Vienna (2004), Valie Export: Series, Atelier Augarten Vienna (2004), Déjà-vu, Atelier Augarten Vienna (2005), Kurt Kren. Uneasiness with Film, Atelier Augarten Vienna (2006), Egon Schiele and the Round Table, Belvedere Vienna (2006), Nach Schiele, Atelier Augarten Vienna (2006), Voice & Void, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2007); Zidovi na ulici / Walls in the Street, Muzej savremene umetnosti, Beograd, Serbia (2008); Endless Sphere/Безкрайня сфера, Center for Contemporary Art, Kyiv, Ukraine (2008); I Repeat Myself When Under Stress, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI (2009); Several Silences, Renaissance Society Chicago, IL (2009); Actors & Extras, Brussels, Belgium (2009); Coral Visual, Casa de la Cultura, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2009); The Science of Imagination, Ludwig Muzéum Budapest (2010); Displaced Fractures, migros museum Zurich (2010); Artistic Research, MIT Cambridge, USA (2010-11), Before The Law, Ludwig Museum Cologne, (2011).