Artwork by Leo Zogmayer

Lives and works in Vienna and Krems an der Donau, Austria

→ some of the orig­i­nal images of the art­work for roadmap2015


Since Schoenherr’s Roadmap series was launched in 2007, every annu­al edi­tion has includ­ed an artist’s con­tri­bu­tion. Leo Zog­may­er has made all of the Roadmap’s 2015 edi­tion his very own spe­cif­ic art project, with­out lim­it­ing him­self only to cer­tain assigned pages. The arti­cles of the var­i­ous authors have to fit in a spe­cial clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that has been devel­oped by Zog­may­er for Roadmap15. In essence, this sys­tem con­sists of a visu­al clas­si­fi­ca­tion based on groups of black and white pho­tographs of Zogmayer’s art stu­dio, com­put­er-based designs and draw­ings of his works, as well as a list of his works. Mono­chro­mat­ic col­ors – which Zog­may­er uses for his glass paint­ings and wood objects – accom­pa­ny and mark the indi­vid­ual frag­ments of Bar­bara Steiner’s text. Zog­may­er worked togeth­er with design­er Alfre­do Suchomel in imple­ment­ing the artist’s con­cept for Roadmap15.

Classification system

“a) Ani­mals belong­ing to the emper­or, b) embalmed ani­mals, c) trained ani­mals, d) suck­ling pigs, e) sirens, f) myth­i­cal crea­tures, g) stray dogs, h) ani­mals belong­ing in this group, i) those that trem­ble as if they were mad, j) ani­mals drawn with a very fine camel hair paint­brush, k) etc., l) ani­mals that have shat­tered the water jug, m) ani­mals that, from afar, resem­ble flies”

This fic­ti­tious Chi­nese ency­clo­pe­dia ded­i­cat­ed to the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of ani­mals may be found in the scrip­tures of the Argen­tine writer Jorge Luis Borges, as well as in the scrip­tures of the French philoso­pher Michel Fou­cault. Cer­tain clas­si­fi­ca­tions seem unusu­al as they are based on unfa­mil­iar cri­te­ria, while famil­iar clas­si­fi­ca­tions are very soon per­ceived as being self-evi­dent. What inter­ests Leo Zog­may­er about uncom­mon clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tems is the fact that they can amaze peo­ple or make them laugh. In doing so, they can call into ques­tion one’s own assump­tions and those things that first appeared to be self-evi­dent.


Zogmayer’s inter­pre­ta­tion of “Schön kommt von Schauen” (“Beau­ty comes from see­ing”) evolves from “baren Schauen” (“Sim­ply seeing/looking”). In address­ing this issue, he takes into account that “sim­ply seeing/ look­ing” from a pure­ly sci­en­tif­ic point of view does not exist, because each and every approach to look­ing is learned in some way or anoth­er. Nev­er­the­less, sim­ply seeing/looking, in the sense of unin­ten­tion­al, unbi­ased, and open means of seeing/looking that is placed some­where between activ­i­ty (look­ing) and pas­siv­i­ty (see­ing), may take place after all. How­ev­er, those things that are pre­vi­ous­ly known, cul­tur­al imprints, pat­terns, prej­u­dices and self-lim­i­ta­tions all too quick­ly mud­dy the sim­ple act of seeing/looking, which – con­trary to “pur­po­sive look­ing” – does not have “know­ing” as its pri­ma­ry goal.

Works of art can raise aware­ness of “seeing/looking” and in doing so also encour­age appre­ci­a­tion of “beau­ty” and/ or cause the con­ven­tions of per­cep­tion to be placed under close scruti­ny. They show the pos­si­bil­i­ty of sim­ply seeing/looking, a way of seeing/looking that rais­es the ques­tion “what if we could always look at things in this man­ner?” To see the “real” world or, to quote Zogmayer’s paint­ing, THE WORLD AS IT IS, appears to be an act that is pro­found­ly utopi­an and yet at the same time is expressed in a very tan­gi­ble way – name­ly, in the sense of con­tin­u­ous­ly striv­ing to over­come a per­cep­tion that is shaped by con­cepts and to free one­self from prej­u­dices, pat­terns and self­lim­i­ta­tions. To see the world as it is has been the dri­ving force for many artists and philoso­phers for decades. How­ev­er, the pos­si­bil­i­ty or impos­si­bil­i­ty of doing so has been heav­i­ly debat­ed not only in the neu­ro­sciences, in psy­chol­o­gy and in cul­tur­al stud­ies, but also in the field of arts itself.


Leo Zog­may­er inter­prets beau­ty in his own way: “‘schön’ (beau­ti­ful) is based on ‘schauen’ (to see/to look), and indi­cates seeing/looking with­out assess­ing: every­thing (vis­i­ble) is beau­ti­ful”. In these lines, beau­ty is linked with per­cep­tion, entire­ly in keep­ing with the Greek sense of the word Aes­the­sis = per­cep­tion. Linked as it is to sen­su­al per­cep­tion and feel­ings, beau­ty may thus be found not only in arts, but every­where. With this point of view, Zog­may­er vehe­ment­ly dis­as­so­ci­ates him­self from lim­it­ing the con­cept of beau­ty sole­ly to art. Art may very well make peo­ple sen­si­tive to beau­ty; how­ev­er, the artist is con­cerned to clar­i­fy that beau­ty should not bind all atten­tion to itself. Plac­ing the paint­ing “beau­ty”, a large-scale reverse glass paint­ing, in dif­fer­ent posi­tions helps to make this clear: This frag­ile glass paint­ing – which is per­haps as frag­ile as the real­iza­tion of beau­ty itself – stands or lies on the ground and/or leans against a wall. Set up in front of a glass wall, it enables a look at anoth­er artist’s in-situ work behind it. In anoth­er instal­la­tion, the glass paint­ing is leant up next to a white pedestal, hold­ing anoth­er one of Zogmayer’s objects named “lay­er­ing” – which is indeed a “lay­er­ing” of white veneered press­boards. While the lay­er­ing, posi­tioned on the pedestal, seems to be “ele­vat­ed” to an extent, leav­ing its pro­fane ori­gin behind, beau­ty remains on the ground. In a third instance, beau­ty is lying on the mag­nif­i­cent floor of a city palace from the 17th Cen­tu­ry – as if sim­ply for­got­ten. In all of the three exam­ples described above, the paint­ing enters into a rela­tion­ship with its sur­round­ings – with the work of anoth­er artist, with the care­ful­ly lay­ered press­boards, and/or with the majes­tic palace. Beau­ty is reflect­ed in Zogmayer’s objects, in the works of oth­ers, in space and in mate­ri­als that so far may not have been regard­ed on the basis of aes­thet­ic cri­te­ria. Beau­ty “flash­es” like an “elu­sive added val­ue of the per­ceiv­able real­i­ty” (Zog­may­er). This requires engag­ing one­self, let­ting go, let­ting things hap­pen, seeing/looking and being aston­ished.

Letting happen

The Chi­nese lan­guages knows the term 無爲 / 无为(wú wéi). 無 may be trans­lat­ed as “not” or “with­out”, 爲 as “act­ing” or “action”. The term does not refer to the entire absence of act­ing, but rather a lim­it­ed form of it, which con­stant­ly adapts to sit­u­a­tions in an intu­itive man­ner. The char­ac­ters 無爲 appear – some­what par­a­dig­mat­i­cal­ly – in a num­ber of Zogmayer’s works. In addi­tion to Tao­ism, the artist is fas­ci­nat­ed by the open and “soft” char­ac­ter of the Chi­nese lan­guage. As a sig­nif­i­cant exam­ple, he points to the Chi­nese term 东西 (dong xi), a dis­syl­lab­ic term for thing / object / mat­ter. Dong xi con­sists of the char­ac­ters dong = east and xi = west. The term thus links oppo­sites with­in one term, mak­ing the indi­vid­ual char­ac­ter “ambigu­ous”. “The thing in this instance is not an object that has hard con­tours, is strict­ly delim­it­ed and ends at its edges. It seems to hard­ly have any sub­stance. The thing, indeed every thing, every aspect of real­i­ty is seen more as a process, as move­ment, as open poten­tial” (Zog­may­er)


In his works, Leo Zog­may­er inten­tion­al­ly cre­ates gaps when it comes to the attri­bu­tion of mean­ing – for exam­ple, through syl­la­ble divi­sions (FOR GET) – or inher­ent incon­sis­ten­cies – such as through the mix­ture of con­trast­ing terms (CHANGE / NO CHANGE). This approach helps cre­ate a space beyond the scope of dis­cur­sive acqui­si­tion – or even more pre­cise­ly, beyond the scope of con­cep­tu­al delim­i­ta­tion. One could absolute­ly say that Zog­may­er is apply­ing lin­guis­tic means to cast out his skep­ti­cism regard­ing the ver­bal­iza­tion of arts. This may well explain his appre­ci­a­tion of Hei­deg­ger, “to unlock lan­guage with lin­guis­tic means”. How­ev­er, it is not only at a lin­guis­tic lev­el that these gaps and con­tra­dic­tions may be found: The artist also links words/word order/ sen­tences and mate­ri­als in a charged rela­tion­ship, for exam­ple in a volu­mi­nous alu­minum cylin­der that reads “noth­ing is vis­i­ble” on one side and “noth­ing is invis­i­ble” on the oth­er. The titles of his exhi­bi­tions are also con­scious­ly used to cre­ate diver­gences between word/painting/ object: in the exhi­bi­tion “The world is in order”, Zog­may­er showed an arrange­ment of pic­to­r­i­al objects per­form­ing var­i­ous vari­a­tions of clas­si­fi­ca­tions. More­over, the titles of exhi­bi­tions also appear as the titles for art works and for Zogmayer’s own texts – not least for the rea­son that this enables the artist to avoid a clear attri­bu­tion of titles and art works and to suc­ceed in cre­at­ing rela­tions between dif­fer­ent works, times and places.

Creating relations

Roadmap15 does not show any sin­gle exam­ple of Leo Zogmayer’s work in an iso­lat­ed way: First­ly, because there is an alpha­bet­i­cal­ly arranged list of those of his art works that direct­ly or indi­rect­ly appear in this edi­tion; sec­ond­ly, the pho­tos of Zogmayer’s stu­dio cre­ate visu­al rela­tions between the works of art, but also to the work­ing util­i­ties, pack­ag­ing and the room itself. The com­put­er-based designs are drafts that were sub­se­quent­ly real­ized or that are still in the process of being real­ized. Accord­ing­ly, these drafts are in rela­tion with their dif­fer­ent real­iza­tions and do not exist inde­pen­dent­ly from them. In the Roadmap itself, the indi­vid­ual pages are put into rela­tion with one anoth­er, but also with the essays of the authors, who at the time they were writ­ing did not know any­thing about Zogmayer’s con­tri­bu­tion. It will be inter­est­ing to see where and how – by coin­ci­dence – con­tex­tu­al rela­tions might arise, despite the fact that this might at the first glance not always seem like­ly between law, the econ­o­my and art. This con­tin­u­ous cre­ation of inter­re­la­tions is sig­nif­i­cant for Zogmayer’s work­ing method. His works adapt to their respec­tive archi­tec­tur­al and social sur­round­ings and com­mu­ni­cate with them. Great­ly reduced in col­or and form, trans­par­ent – translu­cent and per­me­able – they bind as much atten­tion as nec­es­sary in order to be per­ceived as artis­tic com­po­si­tion, but at the same time as lit­tle as nec­es­sary in order to trans­fer the received atten­tion to their respec­tive sur­round­ings.


The rela­tion­ship between art and the econ­o­my is ever chang­ing. In mod­ern times, this rela­tion was, at least in the west­ern coun­tries, ini­tial­ly char­ac­ter­ized by dis­trust, even hos­til­i­ty. The claim that art exists in a space unre­lat­ed to eco­nom­ic con­sid­er­a­tions moti­vat­ed the work of many artists over the course of decades. Ever since the eco­nom­ic poten­tial of art and/or of alliances between art and the econ­o­my has itself become an issue, draw­ing a line between artis­tic and eco­nom­ic inter­ests has become increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult. Nowa­days, artists are more and more con­front­ed with ques­tions relat­ed to the appro­pri­a­tion and use of their works for pur­pos­es that might con­tra­dict the artists’ own inten­tions. How­ev­er, oppor­tu­ni­ties also arise to rede­fine and sound out the rela­tion­ship between art and the econ­o­my with the aim of encour­ag­ing mutu­al enrich­ment. Leo Zogmayer’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Roadmap should be viewed as an attempt to intro­duce artis­tic con­sid­er­a­tions into the eco­nom­ic sphere and in relat­ed fields. Hence when it comes to sharp­en­ing one’s per­cep­tion in gen­er­al, becom­ing more open towards beau­ty in the sense of a “hard­ly tan­gi­ble added val­ue of the per­ceiv­able real­i­ty” (Zog­may­er), this also includes the aware­ness of the ever chang­ing rela­tion­ship between art and the econ­o­my.


Leo Zog­may­er was born in 1949 in Krems in the province of Low­er Aus­tria. He stud­ied at the Con­ser­va­to­ry for the Applied Arts in Vien­na between 1975 and 1981. Apart from var­i­ous exhi­bi­tions show­ing his work in the most diverse con­stel­la­tions, Zog­may­er has been real­iz­ing pub­lic art projects since the end of the 1980s. One of these projects was, for exam­ple, the large-scale word sculp­ture JETZT (Vien­na, 1999), or CONCRETE POETRY (Tübin­gen, 2004). At the inter­face to design, Zog­may­er has also cre­at­ed var­i­ous litur­gi­cal spaces. At present, he is work­ing togeth­er with the archi­tec­tur­al office Sichau & Wal­ter for a com­pe­ti­tion regard­ing the St. Hedwig’s Cathe­dral in Berlin. Their joint­ly draft­ed pro­pos­al won first prize in the open com­pe­ti­tion for the real­iza­tion of the redesign of the cathedral’s inte­ri­or space. In Sep­tem­ber 2014, Zog­may­er invit­ed the art his­to­ri­an Bar­bara Stein­er to write a text for his con­tri­bu­tion to the Roadmap.


With her text, Bar­bara Stein­er respond­ed direct­ly to the artist’s con­cept. Her con­tri­bu­tion is an asso­cia­tive sequence of text frag­ments linked to each oth­er by key words. These terms, which are sig­nif­i­cant for Zogmayer’s work, make it pos­si­ble to approach to the artist’s oeu­vre with­out any cod­i­fi­ca­tions. Bar­bara Stein­er, who was born in Dör­fles, Low­er Aus­tria in 1964, works as a free­lance cura­tor and author in a vari­ety of set­tings; in 2014 those con­sist­ed of Vien­na, Ams­ter­dam and Leipzig. From 2001 until 2011, Stein­er was the direc­tor of the foun­da­tion “Galerie für Zeit­genös­sis­che Kun­st” (GfZK / “Gallery for Con­tem­po­rary Art”) in Leipzig. Apart from mono­graphs of artists, Stein­er has also pub­lished var­i­ous the­mat­ic books on muse­ums, the rela­tion­ship between archi­tec­ture, design, art, between pub­lic and pri­vate, as well as between art and econ­o­my.