Overnight, a large hole has appeared on the façade of the newly renovated Georg-Emmerling-Hof - opposite Schwedenplatz. The perpetrators can also be seen: two workers, one swinging a hammer, the other resting.
The eponymous 1973 film Themroc subversively tells the story of a worker (Michel Piccoli) who resists the dreariness of his existence and, in the process, smashes the outside wall of his apartment with a sledgehammer.
The increasingly precarious housing situation of many and the covetous attacks against social housing are addressed by Themroc, the new work by the artist collective Steinbrener/Dempf & Huber.
Themroc aesthetically ties in with the idealized depictions of workers in municipal buildings. In the 1920s and 1930s in particular, a large number of artworks were created for municipal buildings that were, to a certain extent, in political harmony with the residents.
The band Attwenger on the changing situation in their current song "Leider":
(...) proles and prolettes of any gender.
In the past you voted for the left and now you vote for the right
In the past international solidarity
and now there is only dumb talk of identity (...)
Steinbrener/Dempf & Huber also update with their large semi-sculpture the representation of the community building inhabitant. It remains open, however, whether "Themroc" shows an act against the increasingly dramatizing housing situation, or whether here the achievements of social housing are attacked by those for whom it was actually built.
The figures of the installation are stylistically modeled on the posters and sculptures of 1920s Red Vienna. It is quite intended to unsettle the viewer as to the dating of the artwork. One could understand this as part of a self-deprecating method to lead artistic vanities ad absurdum.
The artists' collective has installed almost all of its public projects in recent years far above the heads of the viewers. Often they were small objects, like the ram on the bald head of the 42-meter-high Bismarck statue in Hamburg, but all of them played with the moment of the unbelievable. The group of workers taking their lunch break between construction cranes on a cantilevered I-beam suspended at a dizzying height above the city was as disconcerting as the tourist information mounted in a steep face of the Ötschergräben, inaccessible to any hiker.
Georg-Emmerling Hof, Obere Donaustraße 97–99, 1020 Wien
Steinbrener/Dempf & Huber is an artist collective (founded in 2005) consisting of the sculptor Christoph Steinbrener, the photographer and graphic artist Rainer Dempf and the architect Martin Huber.