Art in Public Space Vienna

Art in Public Space Vienna arose from a joint initiative by executive city councilors Andreas Mailath-Pokorny (cultural affairs and science), Werner Faymann (housing, housing construction and urban renewal) and Rudolf Schicker (urban development, traffic and transport) in late 2003/early 2004. The financial basis, at the time titled “Fund for Supporting Art in Public Space”, was created with the goal of carrying out, documenting and disseminating top-notch contemporary art projects in Vienna’s public space including international positions. The annual budget of Art in Public Space Vienna amounts to € 800,000. From this basic budget all expenses, such as those for the production and installation of projects, artist fees, publications, PR and communication work or competition procedures are to be covered.

In order to ensure the discursive value of the projects to be financed and incorporate relevant experience into this complex process, an expert board which is to accompany the project has been appointed for a period of three years. The founding board consisted of Berthold Ecker, Silvia Eiblmayr, Brigitte Huck, Edelbert Köb, Wolfgang Kos and Roland Schöny.

The expert board of Art in Public Space Vienna formulates long-term perspectives, generates proactive projects, forms the jury for project proposals and defines the content-related framework for competitions. Likewise, it prepares the content criteria for acquisitions. Moreover, a first social science resonance analysis has been carried out in the framework of Art in Public Space Vienna and a development concept for art projects within the U2 urban development area has been written. Numerous contributions to the discussion, the production of theoretical texts and a symposium scheduled for 2008 are to push the public debate in this field of the fine arts which is so important for the urban space.

In his decisions, the artistic founding board accounted for the context and site relatedness of projects as an essential feature of contemporary art production. Basically, the urban space is understood as representing a social context. In 2005, the temporary scaffolding sculpture add-on at the Wallensteinplatz in Vienna’s 20th district, an exemplary and experimental approach to the unlived possibilities of urban architecture, attracted about 18,000 visitors. The poster series works against racism along the tramway line D referred to central sociopolitical issues and, by this means, it transferred political attitude in a specific way into the context of everyday life. But permanent interventions were realized too, which redefine the urban space in terms of architectural and social aspects, such as the media installation Pi at the Karlsplatz Westpassage by Ken Lum (CAN) or Heinz Gappmayr’s (A) text works at the Main Library Vienna.

As it has been conceived as one of our major dissemination tools, the detailed documentation of the individual art projects can be found on our regularly updated website. Moreover, we have already started working on an upcoming series of publications.

Planned Projects 2007 to 2008

The Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen has been shown eight locations with different topography and social background so that she realizes a work of art in Vienna’s 16th District. The Matteottiplatz in the Sandleitenhof, a model of municipal housing development in Vienna which was built between 1924 and 1928 and saw costly renovation works a couple of years ago, is the expected location.

After the urban renewal of the Karlsplatz and the gentle modernization of the Resselpark in 2006, further artistic interventions are planned for which international artists are to be involved. Fischli & Weiss (CH), Dominique Gonzalez Förster (F) and Roman Ondak (SK) are to develop concepts for permanent works of art.

The German artist Isa Genzken is to realize her sculpture Weltempfänger in the park near the Austrian Parliament which is named after Austria’s first female federal minister, Grete Rehor (1910-1987). The work which is to be installed at a height of seven meters will be a sculpture illuminated from inside and in the shape of an oversized radio made of glass and shall symbolize supra-regional communication networks.

Works by Maria Hahnenkamp (A) and Joep van Lieshout (NL) are scheduled for the residential unit Kabelwerk. The “Kabel- und Drahtwerke AG“ (a cable and wire factory), which was closed down in 1997, was one of the most important companies of Vienna’s district Meidling for more than 100 years. Starting with 2004, after a period during which the premises were used extensively in a cultural context, residential buildings and infrastructure have been put up on the lots which had been cleared by demolition. The Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout has been invited to create a permanent artistic intervention for this environment in the area of Oswaldgasse/Otto-Bondy-Platz whereby he wants to establish a connection to the industrial past of the former cable factory. The Austrian artist Maria Hahnenkamp designs visual insertions on glass with ornaments for a more than 300-year-old fence on the border of the area along the U6. They will refer to abstractions of nature and will as well resolve them formally.