Georg Paul Thomann
|Georg Paul Thomann|
|Birth name||Georg Paul Thomann|
March 13, 1945|
|Died||July 21, 2005
Hall in Tirol, Austria
|Field||Painting, Sculpture, Film, Music, Conceptual Art|
|Training||Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna|
|Movement||Viennese Actionism, Punk|
Georg Paul Thomann (March 13, 1945 – July 21, 2005), purported to be a renowned Austrian conceptual artist of the late 20th century. In reality, he was the fictitious creation of the Austrian art group monochrom.
Art group monochrom was chosen to represent the Republic of Austria at the São Paulo Art Biennial, São Paulo (Brazil) in 2002. However, the political climate in Austria (at that time, the center-right People's Party had recently formed a coalition with Jörg Haider's radical-right Austrian Freedom Party) gave the left-wing art group concerns about acting as wholehearted representatives of their nation. Monochrom dealt with the conundrum by creating the persona of Georg P. Thomann, an irascible, controversial (and completely fictitious) artist of longstanding fame and renown. Through the implementation of this ironic mechanism – even the catalogue included the biography of the non-existent artist – the group solved with pure fiction the philosophical and bureaucratic dilemma attached to the system of representation presented to them by the Biennial.
A further development related to Georg Paul Thomann took place once the São Paulo Art Biennial was underway. The artist Chien-Chi Chang was invited as the representative of Taiwan, but the country's name was removed by the administration from his cube overnight and replaced by the label, "Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei". As the members of monochrom discovered, China had threatened to retreat from the Biennial (and create massive diplomatic problems) if the organizers of the Biennial were thought to be challenging the "One-China policy". Chang's open letter remained unanswered. Under the guise of Thomann, monochrom invited artists from several countries to show their solidarity with Chang by taking the adhesive letters from their countries' name tags and giving them to Chang so that he could remount "Taiwan" outside his room. Monochrom wanted to show that artists do not necessarily have to internalize the fragmentation and isolation imposed by the rat-race of art markets and exhibitions as society-controlling imperatives. Several Asian newspapers reported about the performance. One Taiwanese newspaper headlined: "Austrian artist Georg Paul Thomann saves 'Taiwan'".
In 2005 monochrom released a press info that "Austrian artist and writer Prof. Georg Paul Thomann died in a tragic accident at the tender age of 60." On July 29, 2005 they staged his funeral in Hall in Tirol. Thomann's gravesite remains in Hall. Georg Paul Thomann's tombstone shows an engraved URL of the Thomann project page.
Georg Paul Thomann is featured in RE/Search's "Pranks 2" book.
- TEDx talk by Johannes Grenzfurthner on subversion and G. P. Thomann
- Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom about the Thomann project (published on furtherfield.org)
- Georg Paul Thomann, project homepage
- Detailed chronological info about the Thomann project