René Stessl

Freundschaft – Prijateljstvo



René Stessl

The river Kutschenitza—the border between the Duchy of Styria and the kingdom of Hungary in mediaeval times and, following the demise of the Habsburg monarchy, between Austria and Yugoslavia—today forms the state boundary between Slovenia and Austria.

 

This mutual history of the river, accompanied by channelisation measures that led to shifts of the border, stream restoration efforts and integration into the European Green Belt, exemplifies political and social, economic and ecological dimensions in the border region.

 

René Stessl’s work Freundschaft (Friendship) on the border bridge at Gerlinci/Klöch, consisting of six metallic “bridging staples”, sends out an unequivocal message. He connects two countries symbolically in order to stop them from possibly drifting apart and emphasise the common features of a region in mutual respect of national difference. As a living part of the installation he plants the wine characteristic of this region, intending it to be cultivated, tended, harvested, pressed and savoured together.

 

Not as an exalted sculpture on a plinth, but rather by engaging with the immediate surroundings, the border thus becomes a topic for fruitful dialogue in terms of both its territorial form and its diverse significance.

 

Elisabeth Fiedler

Art in Public Space

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