A Video Intervention and Interaction with "Austria"
from German by David Koblick
The projection surface is an allegorical female figure, a copy of
a monument symbolizing "Austria" which was first erected on
the main plaza of the capital of an occupied nation on the centennial
of the date of occupation. Projections are performed from several angles,
using diverse levels and orientations. The major axis of projection originates
in the headless figure's interior and is cast on the ceiling or on an
overhead panel, from below to aloft. Projected are men's heads personifying
power, replacing the monument's missing head.
These heads essay to replace the lost original, and in the arbitrariness
of their selection demonstrate the exchangeability of ruling powers and
symbols. By means of "morphing" (uniform transmutation of a
given source-portrayal into a wholly-different target-portrayal), the
heads metamorphose almost imperceptibly and glide smoothly into one another.
Placing the heads of males above the female body is intended to illustrate
role-playing and positions of power; this basic premise defines the entire
multilayered project. This theme occurs repeatedly, an allusion to the
discrepancy between the sexes in the way society apportions those positions
of power. So in a second video a woman's bared breasts are projected on
the scantily-clad breasts of the figure, and in another, a female hand
occupied in housewifely activity-cutting food, for example-replaces the
figure's missing left hand. A fourth video projection "The Birth
of Austria" on the lower section of the "Austria" figure
is of course also a distaff theme.
An Interaction should involve the viewing public in the pregnant symbolism
of the happening. Each observer is invited to kneel down in front of the
"Austria" figure upon a red-white-red cushion which bears the
multilingual imprint "Please Kneel Here," and by doing so the
following reaction occurs: within a red and white police barrier-grid
a small Austria-effigy on wheels moves in a circular path to the melody
of the Danube Waltz.
The liberty to choose or to abstain from this interaction with the Austria-effigy
is open to everyone, and coincides in duration with the kneeling stance.
Taking part in the event as an outsider makes it possible for the (presumptive)
participant to symbolically intervene in a closed political system. Intrusive
engagements are limited and the sequence of motions is preset, although
at any time the gyration of the effigy can be started and stopped by the
act of kneeling or rising.
A surveillance camera simultaneously views the one who is kneeling, and
shows him or her on a monitor screen. The monitor can be situated in another
room if space permits, or alternatively located in the same room in such
a way that those kneeling do not immediately see and recognize it as a
Christian und Anita Poneder; Mario Werndl; Christian Gruber; Firma Bayer;
Günter und Martin Stöllnberger; Andreas Metzger;
Christina Hinterleitner; Anita; Arno und Reinhard Waldhauser
Margareta Lindinger; Michael Hubner; David Koblick; Tassilo Blittersdorff;
Christian Vogelauer; Roland Strauss;
Heidi Harsieber; Victoria Obermeier;
Stadt Steyr; Vizebürgermeister Dietmar Spanring; Ennskraft; Phil;
Charlie Schetl; Gertraud Keiler
Waidhofen (An der schönen blauen Donau)
© Bernadette Huber. 2006