Ergin Çavuşoğlu and Jon Bird


Ergin Çavuşoğlu and Jon Bird
Wittgenstein’s Ruler:
Haus Wittgenstein and the View from Above
5 October - 9 November 2024
Private view 4 October- 6 - 9 pm

Haus Wittgenstein - Bulgarisches Kulturinstitut, ViennaParkgasse 18, 1030 Wien, Austria


In 1926, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein took over the design and building of a modernist townhouse for his sister, Margarethe Stonborough-Wittgenstein, on Kundmangasse, Vienna. Margarethe originally commissioned the architect Paul Engleman, a pupil of Adolf Loos but Wittgenstein gradually appropriated the project whilst retaining Engleman’s overall structural framework. It was the interior layout, dimensions, and fittings – windows, doors, door handles, radiators – that became his focus for a rigorously planned and executed set of internal spaces that adhered to a Loosian rejection of all unnecessary and decorative elements. Haus Wittgenstein was finally completed in 1929, ten years after Wittgenstein had apparently abandoned philosophy believing that his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus had resolved the logical structure of language, of what could and could not be said. However, he had already begun to make notes towards what would become his major rethink of linguistic philosophy, the posthumously published Philosophical Investigations (1953). The Stonborough-Wittgenstein House thus occupies a transitional and pivotal place in his thinking, a two-year period that initiated the shift from a theory of language as representing the world through the lens of logic (the ‘picture theory of meaning’) to language as constructing a world of everyday practice (‘language games’). Architecture, as a problem-solving material practice of space, place, and subject, can be seen as analogous to the reframing of subjectivity through language segueing from an external or meta-critical position to one framed from within.

‘Wittgenstein’s Ruler’ is a collaboration between the artist Ergin Çavuşoğlu and the curator and artist Jon Bird, to stage interdisciplinary installations, video, images, and texts exploring the relationships between subjects, objects and space and examining how meanings are produced in context. Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s investigations in informal architecture and sculpture manifested in his large-scale anamorphic drawings which constitute ongoing research that conveys the construct and the critique of ideas on spatial art practices. Wittgenstein made frequent reference to visual and spatial metaphors in his writings: boundaries, limits, inside/outside, public/private, hidden/manifest and these constructs are operative in the viewpoints and sightlines of the interior spaces of Haus Wittgenstein. The exterior assemblage of white cubes interrupted by regularly positioned, vertical windows is contrasted by an interior that emphasises edges, planes, surfaces, inside and outside, division and repetition, transparency and opacity. The central hall, which allows access to the ground floor rooms, is illuminated by light passing through and reflected off, eight paired translucent glass and steel doors. This space of movement from exterior to interior is characterised by images of reflection and refraction, of looking through and looking into, shifting viewpoints that refer directly to Wittgenstein’s reassessment of language in the Philosophical Investigations as ‘a labyrinth of paths’, explored in the drawings of Jon Bird. Wittgenstein’s Ruler addresses notions of boundaries, limits, entanglement, framing and viewpoints, spatial epistemologies that structure complex relations between the viewing subject and the place of encounter with the work of art.

Ergin Çavuşoğlu (Bulgaria) studied at the National School of Fine Arts, Sofia, Marmara University (BA) Istanbul, Goldsmiths College (MA), and the University of Portsmouth (PhD). Çavuşoğlu co-represented Turkey at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. He was shortlisted for the Beck's Futures Prize in 2004 and for Artes Mundi 4 in 2010.

Solo exhibitions include: Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Desire Lines/Tarot & Chess/, 'Artists' Film International on Language, Whitechapel Gallery, London, Istanbul Modern Museum and Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires (2020); Which Sun Gazed Down on Your Last Dream?, Rampa, Instanbul (2016); Cinefication (Tarot and Chess), Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp (1016); Liquid Breeding, YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku (2015); Dust Breeding, The Pavilion, Dubai (2011); Alterity, Rampa, Instanbul (2011), Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Zilkha Auditorium, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011); Crystal & Flame, PEER, London (2010), Ergin Çavuşoğlu. Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen (2009); Place after Place, Kunstverein Freiburg (2008), Point of Departure, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2006); Entanglement, Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), Dundee, 2004.

Jon Bird is an independent curator, artist and writer on contemporary art and visual culture. Among the exhibitions, he has curated are Alfredo Jaar's exhibition at Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna (2019), a major exhibition on Nancy Spero and Kiki Smith for the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2003). Bird has been the curator of several major exhibitions of Leon Golub including, Leon Golub POWERPLAY: the Political Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London (2016), Leon Golub: Bite Your Tongue, Serpentine Gallery (2015), retrospective exhibitions for the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid (2011) and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and tour (2000). Books include Alfredo Jaar: The Garden of Good and Evil (2019), Hans Hacke (eds) Jon Bird, Walter Grasskamp, Molly Nesbit (2003), Re-Writing Conceptual Art (eds) Jon Bird and Michael Newman (1999), Nancy Spero (ed), Jon Bird, Jo Anna Isaak, Sylvere Lotringer (1996) and Rachel Whiteread HOUSE (1995) among others. He contributes regularly to Le Monde Diplomatique.

Jon Bird is an Emeritus Professor at the School of Arts & Creative Industries, Middlesex University, London. He lives and works in London.