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Colored portrait of Judith Schossböck lying in her bed. The image is perforated with milled lines.

„Pain Portraits“

18 Feb­ru­ary — 29 March 2024

Lutherische Stadtkirche (Luther­an City Church)
Dorotheer­gasse 18
1010 Vien­na

Exhi­bi­tion: 18 Feb­ru­ary to 29 March 2024, open dai­ly from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m
Mati­nee: 18 Feb­ru­ary 2024, 11:30 a.m. fol­low­ing the ser­vice
Work­shop and read­ing: 9 March 2024, 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m and 6 p.m., Luther­an City Church, Raum der Begeg­nung (com­mu­ni­ty room)

Dur­ing the Pas­sion sea­son, the “Pain Por­traits” series by the artist Matthias Moll­ner will be exhib­it­ed in the Luther­an City Church in Vien­na.
In this pic­ture cycle, Moll­ner deals with the severe mul­ti­sys­tem ill­ness of his part­ner Judith Schoss­böck. The pro­gram includes a work­shop and a read­ing in which pas­sion and suf­fer­ing can be reflect­ed in a spe­cial way and are allowed to coex­ist.
Many peo­ple with ME/CFS, but also oth­er painful ill­ness­es, report not only the med­ical but also a human­i­tar­i­an and spir­i­tu­al cri­sis or chal­lenge of their sit­u­a­tion, for which our soci­ety often lacks the lan­guage. The lack of recog­ni­tion, being over­whelmed by the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers and the often dif­fi­cult to under­stand con­di­tion of those affect­ed often lead to the suf­fer­ing being euphemised, blend­ed out or ratio­nal­ized. The exhi­bi­tion project under­stands itself as a counter-idea to these ten­den­cies and invites to take a clos­er look and cre­ate understanding.

Matthias Moll­ner: Resis­tive milling
The source mate­r­i­al for the “Pain Por­traits” are pho­tos that I took of my bedrid­den part­ner in sev­er­al stages in 2021/22. It was impor­tant to me to doc­u­ment the sit­u­a­tion and, in par­tic­u­lar, to show this ambiva­lent per­cep­tion that often occurs when look­ing at peo­ple affect­ed by ME/CFS. Who is not con­nect­ed to any tech­ni­cal devices, has no ban­dages, pros­the­ses or oth­er med­ical mate­r­i­al on their body, and is not lying in a white hos­pi­tal or nurs­ing bed can­not be that seri­ous­ly ill, can they? I want­ed to exam­ine this false per­cep­tion of ill­ness and process it in images.
In 2022, the series of 9 “Pain Por­traits” was cre­at­ed, in which I expand­ed the doc­u­men­tary nature of my pho­tographs into a men­tal and phys­i­cal space. The images are pho­tos, paint­ings and objects; they are flat and three-dimen­sion­al at the same time. The “worm­holes” milled and cut from chip­board break through a smooth sur­face. They twist back and forth and stand in con­trast to the images as a phys­i­cal-spa­tial dis­so­nance. I also cut holes in some of the images that swal­lowed up parts of the motifs.
Milling is a dusty and slow process that requires sharp tools and a pre­cise hand. In this activ­i­ty I fight against the resis­tance of the mate­r­i­al and work my way into the depths lay­er by lay­er. At the end, these fur­rows almost come to life and emerge from the picture.

Judith Schoss­böck: Pas­sion­flower thoughts
The three upright stig­mas of the pas­sion flower are also inter­pret­ed as the nails with which Jesus was nailed to the cross. I take extracts of this flower as med­i­cine, among oth­er things. They help me (unfor­tu­nate­ly only very min­i­mal­ly) with neu­ro­log­i­cal states of emer­gency.
Some expe­ri­ences asso­ci­at­ed with ME/CFS are occa­sion­al­ly described by my friends as a kind of spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence. In par­tic­u­lar, the extreme con­di­tion in which in the severe stage or “crash” one may be too weak to express the suf­fer­ing itself, and the expe­ri­ence of prox­im­i­ty to death, some­times require a philo­soph­i­cal or reli­gious ori­en­ta­tion.
Look­ing at my own med­ical his­to­ry, I have had sev­er­al such near-death expe­ri­ences, and some of them occur reg­u­lar­ly. In my brain it feels as if an area that is respon­si­ble for pain is inflamed or acti­vat­ed and some­times as if my mind is leav­ing my body. In this extreme vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, an out-of-body expe­ri­ence, nor­mal sen­sa­tions and con­nec­tions sud­den­ly seem part of the impos­si­ble, and our lan­guage fails. The pain is then omnipresent, and occa­sion­al­ly uni­ver­sal.
I can only speak from my per­spec­tive, but there should actu­al­ly be tens of thou­sands of por­traits of var­i­ous peo­ple affect­ed hang­ing in this church. It would not seem strange to me that we would then kneel in awe before these peo­ple, but rather appro­pri­ate: a cor­rec­tive mech­a­nism to the usu­al “treat­ment” of soci­ety or author­i­ties, in which the per­son­al quick­ly becomes polit­i­cal. Because peo­ple with ME/CFS, no mat­ter how peace­ful or sleep­ing they may look in some pic­tures (warn­ing: appear­ances are deceiv­ing), are, giv­en their great suf­fer­ing, among the strongest but most invis­i­ble of the world.

Lead by: Matthias Moll­ner
Date: 9 March 2024, 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Luther­an City Church Vien­na, Raum der Begeg­nung (com­mu­ni­ty room), next to the church
Reg­is­tra­tion via con­tact form or E‑mail: info@blackferkstudio.com
Lim­it­ed num­ber of par­tic­i­pants. If required, you can start at a lat­er time.

In this per­for­ma­tive work­shop, par­tic­i­pants will work with the artist to cre­ate images on the top­ic, using images cre­at­ed by both humans and AI.
The results of the work­shop are col­lect­ed and fur­ther devel­oped into col­lage images by Moll­ner in an artis­tic process. The per­cep­tion of those affect­ed, rel­a­tives or allies as well as the per­spec­tive of out­siders come togeth­er in this joint work.


  • No expe­ri­ence with art, the dis­ease ME/CFS or AI pro­grams is nec­es­sary, but you are wel­come to bring your own work.
  • Draw­ing and paint­ing uten­sils and paper are avail­able on site. You can also use your own material.
  • Air clean­ers are installed in the room.
  • FFP2 masks: As some of our par­tic­i­pants have a severe neu­roim­muno­log­i­cal ill­ness or belong to vul­ner­a­ble groups, masks will be avail­able for free in the room.

Dear Sil­ja. My sis­ter, an unex­plored ill­ness, and a death that hon­ors life.
Date and loca­tion: 9 March 2024, 6 p.m., Luther­an City Church Vien­na, Raum der Begeg­nung (com­mu­ni­ty room), next to the church

In her book and oth­er texts, Birte Vier­mann por­trays her sis­ter, seri­ous­ly ill with ME/CFS, from the per­spec­tive of a close rel­a­tive. With a lot of love and open­ness, but also rad­i­cal hon­esty and gen­tle­ness, the text deals with the deci­sion of assist­ed sui­cide, the expe­ri­ences and feel­ings as a car­er and rel­a­tive, but also the “net­work of love” that Sil­ja left behind after her death.

A por­trait of very spe­cial peo­ple that is not just about ME/CFS, but also open­ly address­es many things that are worth trac­ing and think­ing about.


  • Air clean­ers are installed in the room.
  • FFP2 masks: As some of our vis­i­tors have a severe neu­roim­muno­log­i­cal ill­ness or belong to vul­ner­a­ble groups, masks will be avail­able for free in the room.

The WE&ME Foun­da­tion was found­ed in 2020 by the Ströck fam­i­ly and is based in Vien­na, where the fam­i­ly is known for its “Ströck” bak­eries, which have delight­ed gen­er­a­tions with their baked goods.
The Ströck family’s jour­ney has been pro­found­ly influ­enced by ME/CFS and has shaped the nature and pur­pose of the WE&ME Foun­da­tion with unshak­able deter­mi­na­tion. Two broth­ers in the fam­i­ly, Christoph and Philipp Ströck, both suf­fer from ME/CFS.
Over the years, the Ströck fam­i­ly became increas­ing­ly aware of the seri­ous defi­cien­cies in social secu­ri­ty and sup­port for mil­lions of ME/CFS suf­fer­ers. Most patients are on their own when it comes to diag­no­sis and the nec­es­sary sup­port, a sit­u­a­tion that often leads to an irre­versible dete­ri­o­ra­tion in the patient’s health. In many cas­es they are unable to return to work or even par­tic­i­pate in social life, result­ing in a lack of social sup­port. The addi­tion­al bur­den on patients and their fam­i­lies due to this cru­el dis­ease is unac­cept­able.
The WE&ME Foun­da­tion is com­mit­ted to fund­ing ground­break­ing research that uncov­ers the com­plex­i­ties of ME/CFS and enables effec­tive treat­ments and cures.

Link: WE&ME Foun­da­tion

When you pur­chase an image from the Pain Por­trait series, 30% of the pro­ceeds will be donat­ed to the WE&ME Foundation’s ME/CFS research projects.

Please send your request via our con­tact form or E‑mail: info@blackferkstudio.com

Of course, you also have the option of donat­ing direct­ly to the WE&ME Foun­da­tion:

Idea: Sabine Hermisson

Con­cept: Black Ferk Stu­dio (Matthias Moll­ner and Judith Schossböck)

Marie-Therese Bur­ka, WE&ME Foun­da­tion
Sabine Her­mis­son
Johannes Mod­eß, Luther­an City Church Vien­na
Black Ferk Stu­dio (Matthias Moll­ner, Judith Schossböck)

Sup­port and Fund­ing:
WE&ME Foun­da­tion

WE&ME Foun­da­tion
Luther­an City Church Vienna


Symposium CRASH! on Youtube

The sym­po­sium about ME/CFS took place on August 18th as part of our exhi­bi­tion at Kün­stler­haus Fac­to­ry. You can now find it online on the new Black Ferk Stu­dio Youtube channel.

The event with expert talks, a read­ing and a per­for­mance ist avail­able as full video (divid­ed into chap­ters), or as sin­gle slideshows (for peo­ple who can’t watch mov­ing images so well or pre­fer to read or less visu­al input).

Sub­ti­tles are avail­able in Ger­man and Eng­lish. Please select your lan­guage and turn them on or off as needed.

Full Playlist:

Black Ferk Stu­dio on Youtube:

Symposium CRASH!

18 August 2023, 7 p.m.

Kün­stler­haus Vien­na, Fac­to­ry
Bösendor­fer­straße 10,
1010 Wien

Kün­stler­haus Vienna

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Joachim Her­mis­son and Matthias Mollner

6:30 pm
Admis­sion to the Factory

7:00 – 7:15 pm

Pre­sen­ta­tion of the project part­ners:
Aus­tri­an Soci­ety for ME/CFS,
WE&ME Foun­da­tion (pre­vi­ous­ly TEMPI-Foundation)

7:15 – 7:30 pm
Read­ing Bar­bara Kauf­mann:
Die Verdächti­gen (The Suspects)

7:30 – 7:50 pm
Talk Dr. Mar­tin Komen­da-Lett:
Beyond Known Struc­tures: ME/CFS as a chal­lenge for med­ical practice

after­wards Q&A and discussion

8:00 – 8:20 pm
Talk Dr. Jen­nifer Blauen­stein­er:
MicroR­NAs of Blood Ves­sels in ME/CFS

after­wards Q&A and discussion

8:30 – 8:45 pm

8:45 – 9:05 pm
Talk Andrea Strohriegl:
Com­mu­ni­ty and Activism: What dif­fer­ence can one make together?

after­wards Q&A and discussion

9:15 – 9:35 pm
Talk DDr. Markus Gole:
Fatigue and Men­tal Ill­ness: Dif­fer­en­tial diag­nos­tic ways to ME/CFS

after­wards Q&A and discussion

9:45 – 10:00 pm
Per­for­mance Matthias Moll­ner:
Stop and Go

Fur­ther information:

  • Free admis­sion to the symposium
  • No reg­is­tra­tion required
  • Bar­ri­er-free access
  • Entrance via the Bösendor­fer­straße 10 (the back­side of the Künstlerhaus/House of Artists)
  • Face masks: As many of our par­tic­i­pants and vis­i­tors have a severe neu­roim­muno­log­i­cal ill­ness or belong to vul­ner­a­ble groups, masks will be avail­able for free in the exhi­bi­tion place.


Kün­stler­haus Vien­na, Fac­to­ry
11 to 27 August 2023
Open­ing: 10 August, 7 p.m.


Kün­stler­haus Vienna

Works by
Christi­na Bal­tais, Bro­ken Bat­tery, Ruth Bra­ham, Mar­tine Brandt, Whit­ney Dafoe, Sibylle Dahren­dorf, Faraz Fal­lahi, Franziska Han­nig, Mila and Sabine Her­mis­son, Hazel Hugh­es, Sun­ni­va Innstrand, Noli Kat, Matthias Moll­ner, Renate Mowlam, Mar­tin Keogh aka The Miss­ing Neigh­bor, Kris­tine Cor­nelia Paulsen, Anna Park­er, Judith Schoss­böck, Ilse Sjouke, James Straz­za, Olivia, Anil van der Zee

ME/CFS (myal­gic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syn­drome) is a mon­ster: one that many affect­ed peo­ple and their loved ones in Aus­tria and around the world are fight­ing. A severe and not uncom­mon mul­ti-sys­tem ill­ness, there is no treat­ment for the root caus­es nor gen­er­al­ly acces­si­ble ther­a­py to date. Due to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and the mil­lions of indi­vid­u­als affect­ed by Post or Long COVID, this often unrecog­nised and triv­i­alised ill­ness has shift­ed more into the pub­lic awareness.

“Even try­ing to put on an exhi­bi­tion with this ter­ror is com­plete mad­ness,” was one of the thoughts that went through the minds of Judith Schoßböck and Matthias Moll­ner in autumn 2021, when they came to the deci­sion to trans­late their expe­ri­ence into art. Express­ing their per­son­al stroke of fate as art is a way of pro­cess­ing their expe­ri­ences and inti­mate insights into a silent and invis­i­ble world lived each day by mil­lions of peo­ple who are miss­ing from soci­ety (#Mil­lion­s­Miss­ing), who mobilise their mea­gre ener­gy reserves for dai­ly sur­vival and recog­ni­tion. This is an ill­ness that stands in dia­met­ric oppo­si­tion to the com­mon­ly accept­ed ideals of moti­va­tion and per­for­mance, as sim­ple activ­i­ties and exer­tion are pun­ished with a wors­en­ing of symptoms.

In this exhi­bi­tion Moll­ner, Schoßböck (a.k.a. Black Ferk Stu­dio), and oth­er artists and cre­atives reflect on the real­i­ty of liv­ing with ME/CFS. To cre­ate art in this con­text becomes a spe­cial activ­i­ty that is tied to risk, as suf­fer­ers of the dis­ease expe­ri­ence phys­i­cal con­se­quences. The hyper­sen­si­tiv­i­ties the ill­ness often caus­es are fur­ther chal­lenges to artis­tic endeav­our and com­mu­ni­ty participation.

The exhi­bi­tion shows var­i­ous artis­tic per­spec­tives togeth­er with infor­ma­tion on the ill­ness in dif­fer­ent con­texts: From the per­son­al views of those affect­ed to the stand­point of soci­ety, from help­less­ness to activism, from the iso­la­tion of the indi­vid­ual to the col­lec­tive view, from the emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence of per­pet­u­al cri­sis to sci­en­tif­ic fact. The exhi­bi­tion tells sto­ries from the “night­side of life” (as Susan Son­tag called ill­ness), pro­vides insight into cop­ing strate­gies, and seeks to utilise open­ness and dark-yet-colour­ful humour to coun­ter­act suf­fer­ing and neglect.

Sym­po­sium: 18 August, 7 p.m.
Dr. Jen­nifer Blauen­stein­er. ME/CFS Research, FH Joan­neum, Graz. DDr. Markus Gole. Psy­chol­o­gist and philoso­pher, Linz. Bar­bara Kauf­mann. Film­mak­er and author, Vien­na. Dr. Mar­tin Komen­da-Lett. Neu­rol­o­gist and ME/CFS expert, Vien­na. Andrea Strohriegl. Com­mu­ni­ty and activism, Vienna

Live per­for­mance by Matthias Mollner

Project part­ners and sup­port:
Öster­re­ichis­che Gesellschaft für ME/CFS
WE&ME Foun­da­tion (for­mer­ly TEMPI-Stiftung)

„Can anybody hear me?“

Group Show in the ip.forum

U4 Cen­ter, Stiege B, 2. Upper floor
Schön­brun­ner Straße 218–220
1120 Vien­na

Open­ing: Thurs­day, 13 Okto­ber 2022
Exhi­bi­tion dura­tion: 13 Octo­ber to 15 Decem­ber 2022
Cura­tors: PJ Maguire und Gabriele Baumgartner

In recent years, we’ve all had to aban­don or adapt our social habits and inter­ac­tions, cre­at­ing a domi­no effect in our present and future inter­ac­tion habits.
Artists have also had to adapt in order to be heard or seen and to be able to com­mu­ni­cate to the view­ers. Art is usu­al­ly a mouth­piece to com­mu­ni­cate issues that move a per­son in some way. In this exhi­bi­tion, we ask about the ways artists have cre­at­ed to be „heard“ and how oth­ers have tak­en the path of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in their artis­tic work to date.

“Congress of the Knowing”

9 to 10 Sep­tem­ber 2022
Pub­lic space under the Lentos Art Muse­um
Dok­tor-Ernst-Koref-Prom­e­nade 1
4020 Linz

“A burn­ing stone. Why you need to know about ME/CFS”

The Black Ferk Stu­dio is pleased to be present with two instal­la­tions and a lec­ture per­for­mance at the “Con­gress of the Know­ing” in Linz. All inter­est­ed peo­ple can take part in the con­gress. Admis­sion is free, reg­is­tra­tion is request­ed: https://kdw.institute

On Sep­tem­ber 9th and 10th, the “Con­gress of the Know­ing” will take place in Linz under the Lentos Art Muse­um. Knowl­edge­able peo­ple from all over Europe will come togeth­er at this mag­i­cal place to exchange and share secret, spe­cial and unique knowl­edge. Events, debates and per­for­mances are open to the pub­lic and will take place on both days. The open space under the Lentos hence becomes a form of “demo­c­ra­t­ic knowl­edge zone” in a pub­lic space. Peo­ple will meet there to exchange knowl­edge with exper­tise and expe­ri­ence valu­able to oth­ers: sci­en­tists, artists, per­form­ers, researchers and experts in oth­er, spe­cial areas: such as peo­ple affect­ed by pover­ty, peo­ple with expe­ri­ence of dis­crim­i­na­tion, social­ly dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple, or peo­ple whose spe­cial knowl­edge has lit­tle pub­lic reach. The lec­tures and audi­ence dis­cus­sions address cur­rent dis­cours­es. There is also the oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain access to com­plex con­tent in a play­ful way through work­shops and inter­ac­tive formats.