Die Förderateliers des Bundes und die BMUKK-Praterateliers
Text by Ursula Maria Probst
Artists working at the Förderateliers des Bundes and BMUKK Praterateliers put out the welcome mat for VIENNA ART WEEK’s Open Studio Day, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse usually reserved for insiders.
Even today, seemingly antiquated notions of space as an incubator for the imagination, creative haven, oasis, creative hotbed, cultic site, life-as-artwork, and genius’s playground are alive and well when the discussion turns to the artist’s studio. The studio is an inseparable reflection of the artist’s personality, inextricably tied to his or her life and work. It is the place where an artist’s attitude is made visible; where adjustments are made, productive formal and thought processes are brought in dialogue with conceptual methods, where art and knowledge find their spatial manifestation and where analysis, observation and discourse mesh and intertwine. An artist’s studio doubles as the site of production and presentation.
Access to a separate studio – the ability to store artworks there and leave work situations in mid-process – is what gives artists the time and space to build relationships between pieces and develop their effects. But studio rents continue to climb and affordable, temporary-use situations are often only a short-term solution. Limited financial resources frequently leave artists with little room for maneuver, and when living and working spaces overlap, as is often the case for many artists, the shortage of space influences the artist’s choice of methods and format. Under the circumstances, one can only imagine how fortunate the artists at the Förderateliers des Bundes on Westbahnstrasse and Wattgasse feel to have these rooms at their disposal, having successfully passed the submission and selection process in late 2012, early 2013. Like the BMUKK Praterateliers in Prater Park, the light-flooded spaces over the rooftops of Vienna offer the best conditions for artistic production.
Communication with artists in neighboring studios creates a social space and is a welcome relief from the myth – but also the reality – of solitary artistic existence. The Austrian government provides nine Förderateliers des Bundes (federally-funded studios for visual art and photography) on Westbahnstrasse, 1070 Vienna – each between 36 and 54 square meters in size – and eleven 44 to 65 square-meter studios on Wattgasse, 1170 Vienna, for artists to use free of charge for a period of six years; the artists pay only the cost of energy and electricity. Established Austrian artists have been working in Vienna’s 2nd-district Praterateliers for several decades now. After 2001, when these fell under the auspices of the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG, Austrian Federal Property Association), the sixteen 45- to 435-square-meter-large Praterateliers were integrated back into the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture’s realm of responsibilities. They are under monument protection, located in the city’s two surviving (or reconstructed) pavilions from the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair, situated on a 25,000 square-meter field in the middle of Prater Park. The north pavilion was badly damaged in the Second World War and reconstructed to its present form after 1945, while the south pavilion remained largely intact as a three-wing, walk-in construction with high windows. In 2011, these recently-renovated empty or vacant studios were also awarded to another generation of artists for a period of seven years. Chosen artists, who work in a variety of media, were also selected through an open submission procedure, and though the Praterateliers are not free (unlike the federally-funded Förderateliers in Wattgasse and Westbahnstrasse) rents are affordably low.
Part of VIENNA ART WEEK 2013, Open Studio Day offers visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse usually reserved for “insiders” such as other artists, gallerists, collectors or curators. For the artists, Open Studio Day is a welcome occasion to show their work on their own turf – without the stress that sometimes comes with shows in galleries or art institutions – and to use the studio situation as a platform. The definition of an artist’s studio as a place with (and through) which artistic work develops is more than a programmatic statement; it is reflected in research and experiments with aesthetic phenomena, and in investigations of sociopolitical structures and issues. The studio serves as a showroom in which an artwork develops its effect, but is also a chance to enhance the artist’s own professional profile – in recognizing the key components through which one’s own work becomes art. Open Studio Day sheds light on the origin and course of the artistic act, brings viewers closer to the creative process, reveals the concentration and introspection that permeate an artwork, and makes these palpable. As opposed to the attending phenomena of a product-oriented aesthetic, the way in which an artist presents his or her own studio also implies a staging of their own occupation and role. A studio presentation can, with its promise of authenticity, convey a directness less commonly found in other dealings with art.
Studio visitors are given access to moments of sensory experience, can take part in situation-based exchanges with the artist, the work and the space, spontaneous snapshots or artist-led presentations tailored specifically to the studio visit. Featured work includes drawing, photography, painting, sculpture, installation or sound art. When representing artistic production to the outside, the studio becomes an image, showroom for models, or a platform for discussion.
Studios are infused with a creative atmosphere that emerges from accumulated materials, but also the mutual impact of craft-based and discursive practices. This is particularly true of the Praterateliers, where we find both approaches at work and intermingling in today’s sculpture and other media, and can see how closely a direct perception of the object is related to the presentation of concepts and ideas. The studio presents itself to the public as a show- and exhibition space, but also permits a poignant analysis of contemporary production aesthetics.
Artists at the Förderateliers des Bundes in Wattgasse: David Pinter, Florian Schmeiser, Moni K. Huber, Bernhard Hosa, Paul Wagner, Nick Oberthaler, Letizia Werth, Michael Kargl, Sabine Schwaighofer, Eva Würdinger, Barbara Sturm
Artists at the Förderateliers des Bundes in Westbahnstrasse: Svenja Deininger, Lazar Lyutakov, Liddy Scheffknecht, Markus Krottendorfer, Roberta Lima, Anja Manfredi, Miriam Bajtala, Irena Eden/ Stijn Lernout, Eva Chytilek
Artists at the BMUKK Praterateliers: Ulrike Truger, Joannis Avramidis, Roland Goeschl, Werner Würtinger, Walter Kölbl, Hans Kupelwieser, Oswald Oberhuber, Ingeborg G. Pluhar, Oswald Stimm, Hans Hollein, Ruth Schnell, Judith Fegerl, Christian Mayer, Hans Scheirl, Roland Kollnitz, Claudia Märzendorfer
OPEN STUDIO DAY
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Curator Elsy Lahner gives a tour of the Praterateliers
11:00 a.m. / Meeting point: Meiereistrasse, vis-à-vis Ernst-Happel-Stadion, 1020 Vienna
Curator Ursula Maria Probst gives a tour of the studios in Westbahnstrasse
3:00 p.m. / Meeting point: Westbahnstrasse 27, 1070 Vienna
Curator Ursula Maria Probst gives a tour of the studios in Wattgasse
5:00 p.m. / Meeting point: Wattgasse 56–60, 1170 Vienna
Open Studio Day final party
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Förderateliers des Bundes, Wattgasse 56–60, 1170 Vienna