Art Trail on Muttersberg in Bludenz - Austria
Blickbank, 2018, Concrete and ceramic tiles, 45 x 45 x 180 cm
Monika Grabuschnigg’s 'Blickbank' is a site-specific work created specifically for Alpine Art Muttersberg and continues the artist’s longstanding work into the meaning, identity and cultural affiliation of objects, symbols and ornaments once they have experienced a shift or de-contextualization.
Grabuschnigg has made a concrete bench, adorned with hand-made black and white tiles, with a recurring edelweiss motif. A quote by the Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer, can be read next to the bench:
"A paradise could only exist outside of nature and such a paradise I can not imagine.”
Marlen Haushofer (* 1920, † 1970), The Wall, 1963
This classic work of dystopian fiction can be read as a searing criticism of modern living and as a paean to life working in harmony with the natural world. The novella explores the irony of man’s attempts throughout history to create 'paradise on earth' whilst failing to appreciate the paradise in which he lives.
The chequerboard pattern that decorates the bench is a design that dates back thousands of years. Seen in wildly diverse places and times, from Bronze age Iranian ceramics to 15th Century Italian art, the arrangement references the continued way in which mankind attempts to shape the space around him.
Most commonly associated with mountain tourism, the Edelweiss motif spanning the tiles explores how we construct narratives and identities and present them to the world. From the badges of the anti-fascist Edelweiss Pirates group of World War II to the emblems of both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS, and latterly the right-wing populist party FPÖ, this small white flower denoting 'courage, bravery and love', has been used throughout history by countless groups and individuals; each appropriating the 'noble purity' of this immigrant flower from the steppes of Central Asia to their own ends. The flower thus mutates into a simple decor element on a historical pattern. Inevitable empty of meaning it becomes a symbol of alienation, something unreal in the idyllic landscape.
This subtle fusion of the physical and symbolic, industry and craft, invites the viewer to sit and consider our relationship to the world around us. How we shape it, and moreover, how we might allow ourselves to be shaped by it.
- Will Evans
Pictures by Oliver Lerch.