Wolfgang Becksteiner

Distanced Closeness


Opening: 21.09.2021

One of three winning projects in a two-stage competition for the construction of Corona monuments in Styria. The implementation was carried out by the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria together with the Cultural Department of the Province of Styria, based on an idea of the Kronen Zeitung.

In April 2020, shortly after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria, together with the Province of Styria and the Kronen Zeitung, announced a two-stage competition for the design of sculptures in Graz and Styria as a reflection on the Corona pandemic.

At this point in time, the Corona virus had spread across all continents at incredible speed. Municipalities, cities and states were quarantined, schools, universities and companies closed. Economic, cultural and social public life had come to a standstill. Instead of the close-up society, the long-distance society became the dictum.

As a result of the direct experience and confrontation with the Corona pandemic, works in public space were to be created in several locations in Styria as “objectified memory” and address questions about the impacts on a personal and societal level.

Following intensive consultation, a seven-member jury decided to implement three projects from the 220 submissions. These winning projects by Wolfgang Becksteiner, Werner Reiterer and Michael Schuster distinguish themselves through their commemorative potential and their look into the future. In public places in Graz and Styria they are statements on and questions to our society.
 


 

The Corona monument Distanced Closeness is positioned in the Castle Gardens with a direct line of sight to the Graz Castle, the seat of the Styrian state government, where important decisions related to the Covid-19 pandemic were reached. At the junction of three gravel paths, the monument takes up the visual axis to the Castle. Two parallel concrete walls, 2.2 meters high and 3.4 meters long, create a spatially confined path at a fork for visitors to stride through. This passageway enables the sculpture to be experienced directly.

By means of the roughened, black-lacquered inner surfaces of the walls, Wolfgang Becksteiner points to the rough, hard times of the crisis. The narrowness and darkness inside the object make the oppression caused by the pandemic physically comprehensible. Distanced from their fellow human beings in the immediate vicinity, the visitors find themselves once more in isolation and loneliness. At the same time, the two open sides provide a prospect and a way out, an always possible view to the rear and to the front. They become an immanent reminder of the freedom and opportunity for closeness we are accustomed to, as well as of the hope of soon being able to find back to these important components of life.

While the one-meter interval between the two high walls, a distance that became omnipresent in the Corona pandemic, recalls the imperative for distance and the feelings associated with it, this interspace is precisely what makes movement possible — proceeding onward amidst the hardship is understood as a symbol of coping. The strict prevention measures come up against important human needs such as interpersonal relationships and physical contact. We find ourselves again in a conflict. Questions about the necessities of life (and survival) of the individual, as well as those of a social, open society, are raised.
 



One of three winning projects in a two-stage competition for the erection of Corona monuments in Styria. The implementation was carried out by the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria together with the Cultural Department of the Province of Styria, based on an idea of the Kronen Zeitung.
 

Art in Public Space

Marienplatz 1/1
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9265
kioer@museum-joanneum.at

 

Location:

Burggarten, Hofgasse 15, 8010 Graz
47°04'22.5"N 15°26'38.4"E