Lisl Ponger is a Vienna-based visual artist whose work concerns stereotypes, racism, and the construction of the gaze. Through her photography, film, and installations, Lisl works across a variety of disciplines including visual art, art history, and ethnography. Most recently, she joined forces with Hundred Heroines to curate a weekly online film festival covering an eclectic range of topics. The hebdomadal film festivals – which started at the onset of the Covid-19 lockdowns in March 2020 – cover a broad range of topics from robots, LGBTQ+ rights, and violence against women. The common thread throughout these diverse topics is that the short films are always made by, or are about, women.
Although Lisl has explored multiple aesthetic approaches throughout her long career, her most recent focus is on staged photography. Lisl describes the process of creating a staged photograph as “making a Hollywood movie in one day”, with all the same elements of a feature film, but on a smaller scale. Dancing on Thin Ice is Lisl’s latest work; the photograph depicts a curator unpacking for an exhibition whilst encircled by replicas of stolen goods.
Restitution of stolen objects is a theme which Lisl has come back to often in her work. She has taken inspiration from figures such as Indiana Jones, and the French novelist and Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux, to discuss the longstanding tradition of keeping plundered artwork in Western museums. She has been working on a project titled MuKulMuseum: The Museum für fremde und vertraute Kulturen [Museum for Foreign and Familiar Cultures]. A culmination of her artistic interests, this work has allowed her to exhibit her series Indian(er) Jones I – V and The Master Narrative in Salzburg and Vienna, maintaining the expansive influence of her practice.
By Enez Nathié