Wien Aktuell | Current Project
"Wien ist Anders" say the posters.
"Nah ja, Wien ist wirklich Anders!" jokes the rest of Austria.
I say, "Nah ja, Wien ist Anders, aber doch, Wien bleibt Gleich".
Demokratie mit Discothek, 2017. Site Specific Collage on Grafitti wall at Club Muluc, 1170 Wien.
'The process of learning turns a strange context into a familiar one, and finally into a habitation of mind and heart...
Learning to know a community or landscape is homemaking.' Bateson, M. C., 1994, p178.
WIEN AKTUELL was a magazine published by Stadt Wien between 1973 - 1985.
I came across about twenty of the magazines in the paper recycling bin of a Tischlerei down the road from my house.
Initially, I was drawn to the vibrant violet of the front covers and the retro designs. Going through the magazines, I noticed that Vienna went through massive transformation and regeneration during the period of publication. Things that we now take for granted were put into place during this period - the making of the Donauinsel, widening of the districts and preservation and extention of the Wienerwälder.
It is also interesting to see that the same themes from 40 old years ago are of importance and interest to Wieners now: growing and preserving Green spaces (Ländliches Wien, Wiens wälder wachst), keeping the city clean (Festwochenputz: Wir nehmen jeden Kübel!), protecting the water supply (Wiener Wasser).
Vienna has elected an SPÖ-lead council for the majority of last 100 years. I believe that Vienna repeatedly being voted the worlds best city to live in is a direct result of the city's long-standing socially focussed council governance.
I am using the magazines as source material to explore the city; I want to trace the citys humor; its airs, graces and quirks; revisit its history and eventually question what we take for granted, value and leave behind.
WIEN AKTUELL - Initial investigation photographs:
COVER = DOKUMENTATION: STERNWARTE GRUNDE. Vol 17. 27 April 1973.
Snooping around Sternwartegrunde was so much fun. I had a historical treasure hunt, looking for evidence of the article from page 8. My main question was - Did the Zoologen der Universitat Wien move in in the end? It didn't look like it, but at least the bees got a building permit... After this first investigation, I want to go back with a blown up version of the Sternwarte cover (up to 1m x 1.5m) to make some larger interventions in the park.
Project Plan and Notes:
My first Wien Aktuell Hunt felt very much like going for one of my Kohi ma raro walks - I wasn't sure what I would find at the site; the excitement of the unknown coupled with the possibility of not finding anything worth photographing had me approaching my morning with trepidation, but also an open mind! My fingers crossed for good weather at least some architechtural features.
I read the article that corresponded to the front cover before I left the house, so I had some mental notes of what to look for:
- The article focussed on the Zoological department of Uni Wien wanting to build on the site.
- An area of the park had been designated fit to build on since 1965 (baureife)
- The Cottageviertel community group were very much against the plans.
- The building work would require 150 trees to be cut down.
- There was a suggestion to make the surrounding roads of the park a fußganger zone.
The article was useful as a springboard into the Hunt. I will do this with all of the magazines, I find having the history to refer back to reassuring - its like the articles give the project bones on which to hang, then I can flesh it out with my own experiences and impressions. There were a few photographs accompanying the article in the magazine, I also found the spots where these were taken, although this time the original photographs didn't provide much inspiration. I'm not interested in recreating the reportage, rather I want to use it as something to think with.
There was building work going on at the site, which was a great coincidence. I have plans to make one particular old building that had been fenced off with metal barriers the final photograph, with extra large poster versions of the WA front cover plastered to it. I'm unsure if the enlarged poster, the final photograph or both will be the final work. I liked the collaged/ hand-made enlargement of the work at Club Muluc - it was tactile and like it was out of a 'zine. I'm going to make the first enlargement out of multipule photocopies and see how it looks. I think it could look really effective if it looks weathered and ripped like the layers of advertising and club night posters you see around the city.
Other things I noticed while I was there:
- mature fox lair
- graffiti on old buildings and portacabins
- 2 separate Imker have hives up there.
- VS kids were playing hide and seek there for about half an hour. There are loads of nooks and crannies to hide in there.
- Spring is coming out, (purple) crocus were out already. Bluebells and daffodils were sprouting.
- lots of trees had been cut down, possible because of the building work.
- the Uni Wien Astrophysics department is based on the site.
- the main building was built between 1874-1880.
- they have a a giant refractor (telescope) in the larger tower of the main building.
- the park is not a complete fußganger zone.
- Johann Palisa (1848 - 1925) - a Uni Wien alumni (Maths & Astronomy) discovered over 100 asteroids without the aid of photography. Someone from the department had placed 3 candles infront of his statue like a shrine.
The next cover I'm going to work on is: DONAU KOMMT INS DOPPELBETT. Vol 18. 4 Mai 1973.
Bateson, M. C., 1994, in de Zegher, C. (ed.), 1996. Inside the Visible: An Elliptical Traverse of 20th Century Art in, of, and From the Feminine. Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press.