How can communal action be transformed into social action? Reflections by Ursula Maria Probst based on conversations with Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek.

"So far the reactions are very positive!"
"Many think we are urban gardeners, but now the floodplain jungle has to grow and become greener". Together with Franz Tišek, Markus Hiesleitner runs the Kulturdrogerie in Gentzgasse, which this summer expands its radius of action to Agenda Climate Care with the project "AU .... a place is renegotiated" a few hundred meters away at Aumannplatz and Norbert-Liebermann-Park. "People for whom our planting of Aumannplatz initially gave the impression of guerrilla gardening are thanking us."

Thinking urban space in its possibilities and utopias!
AU.... a square is renegotiated" is a processual and transformation-oriented attempt to think an urban space in Vienna-Währing with its possibilities and utopias: What if there was no traffic circle at Aumannplatz? What if we lived in a car-free city? Who designs urban space? How can artistic projects and citizen participation articulate a right to the city and climate care? How can community action be transformed into social action? How much space, time, civic engagement and exchange of experience does this require? How can we succeed in further developing the dynamics, relationships and needs of the place in an ecologically forward-looking way? What design qualities, interaction qualities or inclusion qualities can result from this? The artistic project initiated by Kulturdrogerie in cooperation with Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung and supported by KÖR Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Wien uses artistic, participatory and performative interventions, neighborhood projects and citizens' forums to test how practicable impulses for a future worth living can be set.

A mobile camp will be used as a meeting point!
The artistic contributions should contribute to the discourse for the transformation of Aumannplatz from a traffic-intensive zone to a green oasis and give visibility to the project "Forum Aumannplatz", that is the intention. The project will be launched with the involvement of as many people as possible in order to reflect the polyphony of the place. In the sense of the concept of "multitude" introduced into political-philosophical grammar by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, a network is to develop here that spans the action potential of each individual into a collective and/or communal process.

Participation, sharing, empowerment, exchange at eye level.
Processes of participation, empowerment and exchange at eye level and a practice oriented towards the common good, from which further optional communities can develop, form the starting point. From today's vantage point (June 2022), the project will undergo several transformation processes, which will be traced by the participants in protocol. The collaborative design approach and experimental methodology open up possibilities for situational intervention. But how can a square that functions primarily as a traffic island due to the city's growing traffic load become an oasis of peace for nature and people, when all around it the noise and stench of car traffic pollute the environment? How can a healthy ecosystem be implanted in the sense of prudent climate care (which does not stop at lip service, but has a lasting effect)? What artistic means are available for this purpose and how is it possible to activate neighborhoods, citizens, cultural workers, artists, and local politicians to participate and contribute? Starting from the physical place, Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek draw attention to urgent environmental measures and processes and try to link the potential of urban space qualities and artistic forms of practice through artifacts, communication and forms of interaction. In this respect, we could speak of a cultural drugstore initiative. Invited are artists and actors of urban practice. They are invited to elaborate central criteria and qualities of the situation at Aumannplatz and Norbert-Liebermann-Park. Already the title "AU.... a square is renegotiated" is designed as an open structure. Nothing is anticipated, but participation, the expression of one's own needs is desired. Potential uses are to be opened up through a diverse and low-threshold offer. New ideas and own initiatives are welcome. An alternative place of meeting is created, which is in contrast to commercialized places of stay. Characteristic for the project is its programmatic freedom, which offers space for communal experiences and lives from personal encounters. Topics such as environmental activism, which began in Austria with the Aubesetzung in Hainburg in 1984 and is now being continued in the present in Lobau, are to be addressed in the discourse forum designed as a camp, as is the question "What should the world of tomorrow look like?" For more than 50 years we have been suppressing climate change. The pain that is simultaneously communicated by the "AU" also refers to the question of how technocratic specifications by urban planners fail to address site-specific needs, or how ambitious projects are delayed or prevented by magistrate authorities and their increasingly restrictive requirements for the use of public space. In this grassroots-democratically oriented project, it is also important to give space to this question.

On the history and present of urbanization processes
Aumannplatz is located in the center of the 18th district, whose Wilhelminian development is the result of an urban expansion in the 19th century and comparable to that which took place in Vienna in recent years through the Urban Lakeside Aspern. In the course of their research on the history of this district, Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek came across a phenomenon of urbanization of natural space (which was also applied in other districts) in the form of the arching of the Währingerbach. This rises in the Pötzleinsdorfer Schlosspark and flows underground along Pötzleinsdorfer Straße, Gersthofer Straße, Gentzgasse and Aumannplatz for a length of about 4 km, from here it flows further under Währingerstraße, then meets Alserbach and finally flows into the Danube Canal in the 9th district. In their artistic intervention on the traffic circle island, Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek react to the arching of the Währingerbach, which can be located at Aumannplatz. This took place in 1905, when in the course of urban growth the brook had to give way to land reclamation for urban expansion. Space was made for the city. Währing was a narrow stream valley that was filled up to 6 m and straightened so that large houses could be built on it. While there were still fish in the Währingerbach in 1820, it turned into a stinking cesspool in the course of the 19th century. Whereas then it was the stench of the cloaca, today it is other factors that force us to act and rethink, such as the emissions from traffic, the heat in the city and the way people deal with resources. Comparable to current ecological negligence, vaulting was a pragmatic human approach to environmental problems without consideration of their sustainability, comparable to burying garbage, which also currently presents us with unresolved problems. Methane emissions from landfills accelerate climate change. The underground course of the Währingerbach can be traced by Kanal Wien Online Maps ( Many myths and disaster reports revolve around the Währingerbach, from damp basements to floods. Many of the people living here know stories to tell about it.

Renaturalized brook landscape
Over a course of 15 meters, Hiesleitner/Tišek recreate a streambed of gravel that fills only temporarily when it rains. In fact, the renaturalized brook landscape on the traffic island shows dystopian characteristics of a dried-up brook course and establishes references to the worldwide increasing drought catastrophe and the migration flows triggered by famine. Around the streambed, Hiesleitner/Tišek create a wild floodplain forest of marsh and riparian plants, whose wild growth contrasts with the planned urban design. Plants that have already been used in other Kulturdrogerie projects, at the flora pondtemporary land art festival in St. Florian organized by Hiesleitner/Tišek, or as part of the work "mobile gardening" (2017) are used for this. In their artistic activities at Aumannplatz, urban practices and experiences from projects in rural areas flow into each other.

Recycling of discarded traffic signs
Hiesleitner/Tišek recycle material from discarded traffic signs from MA 28 for their installation above the streambed. The poles of the traffic signs, which they bent, break with the attempt to recreate a natural brook landscape and refer directly to the man-made intervention of the arching of the Währingerbach. The traffic signs, eliminated from traffic, stand for change and in their bent and deformed use as an expression of a negotiation of what is commanded and forbidden and who decides about it. The poles gain organicity through the process of bending, suggesting branches, driftwood. The stickers visible on them open the narrative space to their original use. The mobile module for the camp as a base for the activities is also constructed from recycled road signs in dimensions of 2 x 5 x 2.4 meters. They are those dimensions that an SUV occupies in the urban space.

Statement of solidarity
At the same time, the camp in Norbert-Lieberman Park refers in its choice of materials directly to the protest camp of the Lobau activists against the city highway and the Lobau tunnel. The camp of the Lobau demonstration against the expressway was brutally cleared by the police at the time when Hiesleitner/Tišek were conceiving their project. The cross-reference is exemplary for Hiesleitner/Tišek's approach to behave in solidarity with other climate activists.

Nucleus of urban practices
Active themselves in the immediate vicinity of Aumannplatz at Gentzgasse 86-88 as KULTURDROGERIE (a former drugstore converted into a project space in 2005), Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek have several years of experience working in situ with found material and involving people living on site in artistic projects such as "white tube" (2013). The Kulturdrogerie differs from other artist-run spaces and self-organized spaces in its strong impact on urban space. To this end, parking spaces directly in front of the Kulturdrogerie have been used for years during the summer months and transformed into an art oasis under the urgent aspect of climate care. An art form that is currently on everyone's lips under the catchphrase "urban practice" is one of their long-standing practices. In their interventionist habitus, Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek do not move in any limited field, but develop new forms of doing and thinking in the transitions through inter-, multi-, trans-, micro-, over- and extra-disciplinary practices. Relational questions come into play. A laboratory for urban practice is created. In its complexity, "Au...." functions as a field of experimentation for a practice of transforming a place, incorporating aspects of the socio-political, the spatial-cultural, the ecological and the pedagogical. In this respect, the project lives from transversal processes that can already trigger step-by-step urban transformations in the course of the subprojects.

Participatory projects by performance collectives, artists and students
In the implementation of participatory projects, elements are used that invite people to linger. For example, picnic blankets and deck chairs that make the Aumannplatz usable for chilling out. Artists with different approaches such as the sculptor Ernst Koslitsch, the performance art collective Raumarbeiterinnen (Simone Barlian, Theresa Muhl, Sophie Netzer and Kerstin Reyer) from Linz, the artists Zita Breu and Elisabeth Rössler and the painter Martin Tardy have been invited to participate, as well as the performance artist Anne Glassner, the painter Nicole Krenn, who will be taking part in the project with a school class from the 18th district, and the conceptual artist Hannes Zebedin.

Initiation building show
Through the art interventions, a communication space open to all will be activated. As, for example, in the two-hour interventionist performance "Bauschau" by the raumarbeiterinnen - Simone Barlian, Theresa Muhl, Sophie Netzer and Kerstin Reyer on the occasion of the opening of the Independent Space Index 2022 on 24.6.2022. In their "construction site performance" they develop a choreography of the occupation of the square. For this purpose, orange cones are used, as they are used at construction sites. In their processual and site-specific way of working, the raumarbeiterinnen react directly to the situation on site. According to their own definition, the "Bauschau" is a format of the raumarbeiterinnen in which they appropriate a public space by means of a performative and temporary construction site. They change, add to and erect structural conditions and create a choreography of movement sequences. Qualities of the place are emphasized. In doing so, they methodically take an affective approach by incorporating the emerging sounds of the construction site into the performance.

Author: Ursula Maria Probst


Aumannplatz, 1180 Wien
Norbert-Liebermann-Park, 1180 Wien

Further Information

Club Kulturdrogerie - Markus Hiesleitner and Franz Tišek



Time Period

June 14 to October 4, 2022

Tram 40, 41

The stream bed will remain in place until April 2023!

In cooperation with GB* - Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung.

Education - Events


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Forum Aumannplatz - GB*

Cooperation partner/s