Rainer Ganahl was born in Bludenz, Vorarlberg, Austria, in 1961. From 1986 to 1991 he studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna with Peter Weibel, at the ENSAD in Paris, and at the Art College, Düsseldorf, Germany, with Nam June Paik. Between 1990 and 1991 he studied at the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum in New York. Since 1990, Rainer Ganahl has lived mainly in the United States, particularly in New York.
After early forays into video animation work (from 1987) Ganahl became involved in the forms and languages of computerized spaces and data bases. He analyzed the structures and hierarchies that govern computers in a number of series entitled windows, file-catalog, and citY lisT (all from 1989), involving installations that would, on occasion, take up an entire room. His critical approach to post-colonial theory led Ganahl to create a set of works beginning in 1994 (e. g., Basic Japanese), which turned the laborious process of learning an “exotic” language into an art project. Cultural differences were also a theme of his Imported-Reading Seminars held from 1995 onward. The selection of current theoretical works from specific countries and the group study of these texts was documented and presented on video. The realm of academic training and education formed the background for his photographic series S/L (Seminars/Lectures). Besides this documentation of personalities from the world of academia, he also displayed thematically similar works by other artists in the “Educational Complex” exhibition, which he organized at the Generali Foundation in 1997. In the Austrian pavilion of the Venice Biennale of 1999, he presented his most recent works in conjunction with five other individual artists and teams. His preoccupation with language was further extended in interview projects such as Basic Canadian, where users of an idiom were differentiated according to their origin, education, and class background and queried as to their linguistic identity. Most recently, Ganahl has been working again in cyber space. Thus, Das Unbehagen in Österreich (The Discontent in Austria) has been available since the year 2000 as an online forum of discussions where changes in the culture and powerful new phenomena such as the resurgence of racism can be debated. (HS)