To design this art project, KÖR was able to engage Viennese artist duo Ashley Hans Scheirl and Jakob Lena Knebl, whose work is based on playing with identities. “The covering of the Vienna city hall tower gives the city the unique opportunity to send a strong signal to the world,” explains Vienna’s city councillor for culture, Veronica Kaup-Hasler, who has made essential contributions to the success of the project. The art installation, nearly 70 metres high, is intended to mark Vienna as a cosmopolitan city and provide the artistic framework for events from ‘100 Years of Red Vienna’ to ‘Life Ball 2019’ and ‘EuroPride Vienna 2019.’ The artwork on the city hall tower will create a literal ‘landmark’ from May 2019 until October 2019 and redefine the visual narrative of the city,” says Kaup-Hasler.
Art campaign made possible by facade restoration
In concrete terms, this project is the biggest art installation currently in Austria with a size of over 1,500 m². The tower will be covered with a protective net for at least six months, up to a height of 75 metres. The reason for this is the start of the sixth out of eleven phases of construction that are intended to restore the entire exterior facade of Vienna city hall. “136 years and counting,” is how the city councillor for housing, Kathrin Gaal, describes the beating heart of the city. “Today more than ever, the city hall is a beloved point of attraction for the citizens of Vienna. To keep it this way in the future, the city is investing around 36 million euros into renovating its unique natural stone facade,” says Gaal, who was likewise involved in the success of the art campaign. The new stage also includes the main tower along with the western facade of the arcade yard. Its facades and the rich sculptural decoration will be restored by the autumn of 2020. “The overall renovation project is fully on track,” says the city councillor for housing of Vienna happily, who calculates that all work will be complete by the end of 2024.
Gewista the project partner
The “tower covering” project would not have been possible without partners from the private sector. The Gewista company, who celebrates their 100-year anniversary in 2021, was involved in project planning and execution from the beginning. “We are still really proud,” says Gewista CEO Franz Solta, “to get to help the art and culture initiatives of the city of Vienna as partners and sponsors. Right now we’re particularly happy about the upcoming implementation of a spectacular new project: the covering of the city hall tower as part of its renovation. The Vienna landmark acts as a signal and an international ambassador of an open-minded, tolerant city. For us as a Viennese outdoor advertising company, it’s a wonderful job to be allowed to provide the city hall tower with a message of tolerance that will be seen not only by the people of Vienna, but by people from around the entire world.” Gewista is shouldering the costs and providing the expertise of planning, production, installation and dismantling of the tarps, which have been finished since 8 March. Installing the artwork will begin no later than 15 April. Another partner on board: scaffolding company Xervon, who is shouldering the costs of and providing assembly for additional scaffolding components. The work will be visible in its full glory by the end of April.
• Ashley Hans Scheirl, born in Salzburg, is a transgender Austrian painter and concept, mixed media, performance, body art and video artist. Scheirl studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. In 1980 she graduated with a degree in Conversation and Restoration. From 2001 to 2003, she worked on her Master’s degree in “Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design” in London. Ashley Hans Scheirl has worked as a professor of contextual painting at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna since 2006. As a painter, drawing back on her studies in restoration at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Scheirl creates loud, colourful painted panels that float somewhere between icons and photorealism. She celebrates play with ambiguous symbols in her work. The artist exhibits her paintings under the name Hans. She has always suffered from feeling as though she is worth less as a women, says Scheirl.
• Jakob Lena Knebl is likewise forging “queer paths” through art history and examining body image and gender roles. Born in Baden, she studied textual sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna with Heimo Zobernig and fashion at the University of Applied Arts Vienna with Raf Simons. A few years ago she changed her baptismal name to the first names of her grandparents in the context of her game, playing with identity and gender, and gave herself the surname Knebl. In her works she connects the associative abundance of her own thinking with a variety of means of expression (performance, installation, film, photography, object). Jakob Lena Knebl lives in Vienna and works as a Senior Artist at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
Mag. Alfred Strauch
Mediensprecher StRin Mag.a Veronica Kaup-Hasler
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Mediensprecherin Frauen- und Wohnbaustadträtin Kathrin Gaál
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