Werner Reiterer


Opening: 18.11.2021

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.


Werner Reiterer’s Corona sculpture consists of a 17,000 kg sphere made of iron and heavy concrete with a diameter of two meters. It makes reference to the sudden emergence of the virus, its creeping disappearance and the potential oblivion associated with it, which has already erased pandemics of the past from our collective memory.

Penetrating into the soil, the sculpture metaphorically visualizes the manner by which a virus enters the human cell. Viruses are up to 1,000 times smaller in size than human cells and have no metabolism. That is why they invade cells and use their structure to multiply. This infection process, which in reality eludes our sight due to its microscopic tininess, turns into a supposedly observable image in Reiterer’s artistic formulation.

Like a virus, the sphere will completely sink into the target body — the human or the soil — with the difference being that the sculpture will need around 100 years to complete the process. This metaphorical parallel is made possible by the material nature of our planet, which accumulates materials with a high specific weight in the Earth’s core and less heavy substances on the Earth’s surface. This phenomenon of gravitational force explains why the Earth has a core made of iron and thus a magnetic field, which constitutes the basis of existence for us and all other living beings.

Through the penetration of the sphere into the Earth, the aspect of remembering, respectively, forgetting, is addressed. The last global pandemic struck our planet from 1918 to1920 in the form of the Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Until the outbreak of the latest pandemic, very few people were aware of this historic catastrophe. The gradual process of forgetting can be experienced plastically as the sculpture sinks into the ground. Once they disappear, both the pandemic and the sphere will either remain anchored in the memories of our descendants or fade into oblivion.

Werner Reiterer and the Institute for Art in Public Space Styria

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.

Art in Public Space

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