Who may use public space? When, for how long, and to what purpose? The answers to these questions are subject to a process of continuing negotiations between different groups and interests and result in regulations and allocations. Public space is a hard-fought territory. The Esterházy Park neighborhood is determined by tensions arising from the division of the area according to objectives of consumption, recreation, leisure activities, and living.
For IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT, artists were invited to develop interventions for this specific area and to get involved in the stories deposited there, make these stories visible, and assess their relevance to the present. The eventful history of the site—from the Ottoman Empire’s siege of Vienna (Church of Mariahilf) to the Nazi era (flak tower), the use of the park as a meeting point for homosexuals, and today’s Caritas-run care facility “Gruft” (Crypt) for the homeless—was taken up in different ways. The projects were realized in various media and materials; their range spanned from sculptural pieces, installations, participatory and performative interventions to text and sound works.
Iris Andraschek/Hubert Lobnig
Iris Andraschek and Hubert Lobnig have dedicated themselves to issues concerning the coexistence of different social groups for more than twenty years. They initiated a collaboration with the care facility “Gruft” (Crypt) for their social and architectural intervention Gruft-Boutique (Crypt Boutique). Together with the art education group working there, they held a number of workshops during the summer, in which old clothes were artistically modified and passed on to interested persons in exchange for a donation to the “Gruft.” The outer sides of the boutique's walls featured parts from the interviews conducted with people frequenting the “Gruft.”
STIMMEN AUS DER GRUFT
Anna Artaker’s project STIMMEN AUS DER GRUFT (Voices from the Crypt) was based on interviews with clients of the “Gruft” care facility for homeless people to be heard at a park bench in Esterházy Park. The persons interviewed talked about their experiences with homelessness and how they use the city and the neighborhood where they answered the questions. The voices edited in a collage-like manner combined to unfold the view of the anything but primary addressees of the Mariahilfer Straße and the Schanigärten with their tables and chairs set up on the sidewalks in front of the vicinity’s eating and drinking places. From the perspective of their precarious situation, the interviewees described alternative forms of using the public realm beyond consumerist behavior.
Franz Kapfer’s series of works for “saving Christianity” are concerned with the amalgamation of state and religion and the relationship between cultures. How can religious symbols such as the cross be appropriated by different parties, and is there a common thread running through history from the Ottoman Empire’s siege of Vienna to Austrofascism and the recent appearance of Pegida? The Capuchin friar Marco d’Aviano, who was appointed apostolic envoy to the Habsburg army in the days of the Ottoman Empire’s second siege, is such a stereotyped figure that exemplified the functionalization of religious symbols in a “war between cultures” in the context of the project IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT.
Der nackte Soldat
Relating to the novel Der nackte Soldat (The Naked Soldier) by Belmen O, which portrays the gay scene active in a public toilet in Esterházy Park in the 1970s, Johannes Porsch presented a wall of mirrors with painterly traces of poured or spattered liquids in a remote corner of the park. In its theatrical setting (set, prop, actor), the installation, recalling a pop revue in its style, confronted visitors with the means and genres of art in public space used by the society of the spectacle in exploring this art’s functions: memorial, garden design, wall painting.
The Elder thing
What happens when the relationship to an artwork’s original context has been lost? Referring to the National Socialist architecture dominating the Esterházy Park, Markus Proschek presented a fragmentary cast of a work by the Nazi sculptor Josef Thorak (1889–1952) in a staged excavation site. Looking like any relic of a past culture, the fragment hardly suggested the power relations under which the piece was originally created. Memory glides into history—a process gradually undermining the social function of “Lest we forget!” as a warning to society.
Toni Schmale’s sculpture antenne (antenna) related to both the former function of the flak tower as a listening bunker for transmitting spatial coordinates of Allied aircraft and the Volksempfänger of the Nazi era, a radio receiver used as a means of propaganda for manipulating the population. Who transmits and receives which information to which end? Information is censored depending on one’s geographic and political position. The artist’s sculptural blow-up visualized the fact that this strategy is still effective in times of the Internet.
Barnabitenviertel, Esterházypark, 1060 Vienna
* 1963 Horn (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
*1962 in Völkermarkt (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
* 1976 Wien, lives and works in Vienna.
* 1971 Fürstenfeld (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
* 1970 Innsbruck (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
* 1981 Schwarzach im Pongau (AT), lives and works in Berlin (DE) and Vienna.
* 1976 Hamburg (DE), lives and works in Vienna.
cultural platform Mariahilf