Lueger Temporary

The provisional intervention Lueger Temporary consists of true-to-scale, fragmentary contours of all the memorials or monuments we are currently aware of that are dedicated to the former mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger (1897–1910). This is our contribution to the critical reevaluation of this anti-Semitic politician.

There are total of sixteen such monuments currently known to us. They can be found in public space throughout Vienna—on façades, in parks, on bridges, and at the Central Cemetery. Only four of them have been contextualized. In general, most have remained without comment. This web of Lueger references enveloping the city, however, receives hardly any attention in the ongoing important debate about Lueger’s self-styled image in public space.

With our intervention Lueger Temporary at Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz—the public square where the current debate is concentrated and is being negotiated—our aim leading up to the competition for a permanent public art installation for this site is to raise awareness through a visible reference to—and thus also facilitate an extensive discussion about—the manifestly aggressive presence that these disputable tributes to Lueger still pose today.

For Lueger Temporary the contours of the memorials will be constructed from light lath wood and painted various colors. The choice of materials underscores the provisional, irreverent character of the installation. Its fragile appearance is the antithesis of the solemn monumentality of the statue we currently see on the square.

The installation traces the contours of the following memorials and monuments:

1896 Lueger-Hof, Selzergasse 20-22, 15th districtuncommented 1896 Lueger-Hof, Selzergasse 20-22, 15th district – uncommented
1903 Portrait relief, school, Haizingergasse 37, 18th district 1903 Portrait relief, school, Haizingergasse 37, 18th district
1904 Fountain on Siebenbrunnenplatz, 5th districtuncommented 1904 Fountain on Siebenbrunnenplatz, 5th district – uncommented
1906 Monument in Lainz, geriatric hospital, in front of pavilion XIV, Versorgungsheimplatz 1, 13th districtuncommented 1906 Denkmal in Lainz, Lainzer Pflegeheim, vor Pavillon XIV, Versorgungsheimplatz 1, 13th district – uncommented
1904–09 Karl-Borromäus Fountain, Karl Borromäusplatz 1, 3th districtuncommented 1904–09 Karl-Borromäus Fountain, Karl Borromäusplatz 1, 3th district – uncommented
1906 Leuchtobelisk, 30-foot obelisk, on Mariahilfer Gürtel, 6th districtuncommented 1906 Leuchtobelisk, 30-foot obelisk, on Mariahilfer Gürtel, 6th district – uncommented
1910 St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery Church, Zentralfriedhof, 11th districtuncommented 1910 St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery Church, Zentralfriedhof, 11th district – uncommented
1910 Central Cemetery gate, Zentralfriedhof, 11th districtuncommented 1910 Central Cemetery gate, Zentralfriedhof, 11th district – uncommented
1910 Large relief, school, Graf Starhemberggasse 8-10, 4th districtuncommented 1910 Large relief, school, Graf Starhemberggasse 8-10, 4th district – uncommented
1911 Portrait relief, apartment building, Penzingerstraße 72, 14th districtuncommented 1911 Portrait relief, apartment building, Penzingerstraße 72, 14th district – uncommented
1913 Roland Fountain, Lainz, 13th districtuncommented 1913 Roland Fountain, Lainz, 13th district – uncommented
1915 Bust, Cobenzl, 19th districtuncommented 1915 Bust, Cobenzl, 19th district – uncommented
1926 Naming of the square on the Ringstraße "Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz", 1th district – uncommented, and bronze statue on stone base, Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz, 1th district 1926 Naming of the square on the Ringstraße 'Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz', 1th district – uncommented, and bronze statue on stone base, Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz, 1th district
1936 Commemorative tablet, Hamburgerstraße 9, 5th districtuncommented 1936 Commemorative tablet, Hamburgerstraße 9, 5th district – uncommented
1944 Commemorative tablet, TU, Karlsplatz 13, 4th district 1944 Commemorative tablet, TU, Karlsplatz 13, 4th district
1955 Bridge, Albert-Schweitzer-Gasse / Badgasse, 14th district 1955 Bridge, Albert-Schweitzer-Gasse / Badgasse, 14th district

Research last updated 6/24/2022, support by Jiri Tomicek, Martina Genetti

Instead of Defacing

Monuments are placements of the ostensibly everlasting. Erected in the conviction of uncontested validity, they follow their mandate, the purpose of which it is to declare the elasticity of history invalid. As the epitome of permanence most are sculpted in stone, many even cast in metal, frozen in time to brave with safe stability the contingencies of life, history, and politics. Not to mention the elements. For this noble gesture that enjoys the protective cloak of timeless dignity, only the prime spots are good enough. Monuments stand in prominent places. On wide boulevards, at busy intersections, in panoramic landscapes or high places, spots, in any case, where they are guaranteed to endure as the focus of attention. Emanating from these privileged places, monuments mark infinite intervals of time. They celebrate an act of foundation or an unparalleled historic achievement whose period of effect can neither be challenged nor limited by an expiration date.

Monuments rely not only on the cementing of their significance but also on the power of their impact conveyed through image and portrayal. The erectors of even abstract monuments are people who do so strongly convinced of an enduring iconophilia, because the image—especially the statue—absolutely represents an operating force that doesn’t grow weaker even if it was founded a long time ago. Monuments can be seen as mnemonic techniques that have taken on physical form and are capable of forever reminding us of unparalleled achievements—even if they were experienced only by our ancestors.

But what if time gnaws away at the credibility of their legitimacy? What if the interpretational sovereignty symbolized by monuments becomes porous or precarious? A reinterpretation of history poses the question of aesthetic revision. But how do you alter a statue? What can you do? If the reinterpretation is not motivated by boredom, the impulse to revise is usually the result of a sharp- tongued protest against the right to be seen and to be spared defacement? The process of reevaluation can result in orderly negotiations, can spark discussions about a revised understanding of history, but it can also trigger rabid reactions sometimes involving a willingness to resort to violence as a means to censorship. The stronger the visual portrayal of a monument’s convictions, the more it provokes iconoclastic energies. Sometimes works of art are even held responsible for political promises, become victims of historical retaliation and surrogate wars. They are removed, condemned by activists, vandalized, even publicly censured to the point of character assassination. Every act of iconoclasm, however, proves nothing less than the unbroken power of the image, for if the image lacked impact, it would be easier for future generations of opposing views to ignore the continuation of the historical heritage.

“Lueger temporary” is not a monument. In contrast to the claim of eternity, Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch set a time limit. Their display consisting of wooden boards defies conservation by nature of its construction method alone. Moreover, the colorful silhouette to be erected next to the existing monument seems impermanent and fragile, perhaps even amusing. The scaffolding encourages unforeseeable interventions. It is not a permanent solution but a temporary stock- taking. One can easily imagine it as a site for passersby to assemble or put up posters, a surface to write on and use as a slate for their own messages. Six/Petritsch choose these tenuous lines not only as a way of counterbalancing the hard substance of the bronze and stone world of monuments, but also to provoke different interpretations and to allow a kind of process to unfold.

“Chronology, archive, warehouse,” concepts brought into play by the artist duo, refer to this. The processing entails reconstructing history as well as researching the locations of various elements—not just the monument at Stubenring, but all the historic memorial sites that pay tribute to the controversial mayor. Among these are churches, bridges, plaques, fountains, and busts. Six/Petritsch compile and survey. The name Lueger pops up in many urban contexts, his presence is embedded in the urban fabric, sometimes quite clearly, other times less so, but always more subtly and subliminally than at the public location at the entrance to the first district. Thus the prominent monument that proudly depicts the mayor with a beard and dressed in a frock coat, with one hand on his heart, the other at his lapel, turns out to be a hot spot of debate, though it is not the heart of the problem.

The artists show the contours of the filiations at a scale of 1:1. Not only are they silhouettes of real structures, but lined up in this way they also resemble an economic cycle, the peaks and troughs of possible discourses. Here the heated question in current debates as to whether to banish or recontextualize is addressed objectively in the form of a statistical display with the potential for action. As so often in the work of Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch the focus is on stock-taking and data collection, in this case with the recognizable intention of expanding the discussions by a factual aspect and opening the discussion up to the city and society. The fact that the aim is not iconoclastic destruction can be seen in the duplication of the monument, which shows the contours of the figure repeated in the spatially depicted graph. On the contrary, here it becomes clear that history can only be justified as an ongoing dialogue. A close examination of the source and consideration of opposing standpoints must be taken just as seriously as moral resolutions, whereas dogmas and norms are not acceptable. New doctrines would be nothing more than the imitation of the ideological rhetoric of the original image in reverse—according to the motto: the sole solution to erecting is erasing.

But back to the point of departure and the aesthetic situation. Karl Lueger was originally portrayed as stately and patriarchal in this historicist bronze statute that was unveiled in 1926. Carved in stone around the pedestal are allegories of the historic accomplishments attributed to him, they are statuesque, subaltern, column-like: a laborer holding a gas line, a farm worker representing the woods and meadows on the outskirts of Vienna, a mourning mother who symbolizes orphan welfare, etc. The figures seem not only to hold Lueger up, but also to back him as metaphoric witnesses, as if even from the moment the monument was erected they wanted to refute the angry objections from the future. They are supplements, stepping forward like counterarguments hurriedly refuting political opposition—like today’s critical opinion. Seemingly indifferent, these stone advocates testify to the apotheosis of the mayor, whose scapegoat populism goes as unmentioned in this admiring iconography as the fervid antisemitism that would later inspire a darker historical figure who was yet to enter the scene.

But what impact does Lueger have beyond the alleged point of culmination at Stubenring? With their intervention, Six/Petritsch encourage objectification. To this end, they give their work, which spans the open space of the square like a stellar constellation, the look and feel of temporariness and experiment. The idea here is to stimulate discursive spaces of possibility rather than providing conclusive results. Through decentralization, the facets of the Lueger depictions become broader, the outlines literally render the substance transparent, and the gridlocked positions grow brittle. Without a doubt, this brittleness, the bricolage of the scaffolding, and the intertwined markers of remembrance within the wooden framework relativize the force and ponderousness of the bronze monument. At the same time they show how the pathos of remembrance and sense of mission come together in a circular economy of thought. Experienceable from all sides, the walk- in, walk-through intervention by Six/Petritsch puts the alternative to the test. It allows a different, a more contemporary perception. Moreover, it encourages the continuation of the necessary discussion by serving as a preliminary study on the establishment of a historically meaningful way of learning.

Thomas Trummer, Bregenz 14 September 2022


12. Oktober 2022 - Sommer 2023

Dr.-Karl-Lueger Platz
1010 Wien | Vienna

Nicole Six und Paul Petritsch
Schottenfeldgasse 76/25
1070 Wien | Vienna

Picture credits if not stated otherwise: Six&Petritsch
Web: Dominique Lederer / Fonts:
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