Werner Reiterer

Crash, 2013


The history of settlement in Leibnitz dates back to Emperor Vespasian (68-79 AD); it was first mentioned in historical records as Lipnizza in 970. Due to its favourable location, the town’s eventful history includes varying periods of prosperity, destruction and reconstruction under Illyrian-Celt, Roman, Slav, Hungarian and Ottoman influence or invasion.


Established in the last quarter of the 13th century, modern-day Leibnitz was systematically extended along a main road towards the west, and received city status in 1913. Leibnitz’ main square is a spacious street square, bordered on the east by the parish church of St. Jacob and in the west by the church of the Capuchin order. The townscape’s religious association with Roman Catholicism was further underpinned in 1744, when a Marian column was erected at the centre. However, due to National Socialist takeover and reorganisation, the column was moved to the edge of the square in 1939, and finally in 2003, to its present place in front of the town hall.


Werner Reiterer links this monument’s journey during the past 100 years to general urban development and the global history of transport, economy, technology, politics and society. Of all the many different speed formats, the slowest and most selfcontained, namely the statue, seems to be the most stable, but also the most rigid. While the steam engine symbolises the first technical revolution, the car and the conveyor belt as symbols of dynamic development, resulting in “Fordism” – which finally led to turbo-capitalism – stand for the second technical revolution. Reiterer confronts them with the stationary Marian column, thus staging the Cultural Crash impressively and ironically.


Like all of Reiterer’s works, this one also affects us in its approach. In his representation of the write-off as a contemporary depiction of vanitas, man is without knowing it an element of the work, which alternates between realistic possibilities and elevated representation. The artist confronts this representative sacred statue towering high above the passers-by with a temporary and unpretentious, yet all the more ostensible and shocking contrast. Reiterer does not aim to produce an opus magnum, he is infinitely more interested in redefining the square by staging artistic acts.


Ever since Andy Warhol, we know about the possible artistic aspect of traffic accidents, the refinement of everyday life and simultaneous trivialisation of the artist’s chosen subject. In that sense, then, Werner Reiterer addresses our immediate environment, intervening in a generally understandable symbolic language. He adopts the tactic of employing the easy readability of Roman Catholic architecture in public space, updating vocabulary and freezing the history of the inevitable collision and clash of different times, dynamics, religious and life models into a moment of Cultural Crash.


In doing so, he not only investigates stereotypical perspectives, but also confounds by staging a crash of his imitation of a common everyday horror vision involving the Holy Virgin standing on a deliberately elevated sacrosanct level.


He thus strips the trivial or non-reflected of its normality on the one hand, shocking us with his focus on human mortality on the other. Self-ironically, he also shows how ridiculous the desire for eternity or promising model solutions is; nevertheless, with a Little wink he allows for a small wonder in that he presents eternal Mary as an ideal imagined by victorious survivors. In his provocative confrontation with the idea - doomed to failure - of finding a form, then, the artist cleverly breaks down the ancient philosophical problem, finally realising that it remains unsolvable.


Elisabeth Fiedler




Friday, 13.09.2013, 15 pm

Hauptplatz Leibnitz


In the presence of the artist.



Elisabeth Fiedler, Head Institute Art in Public Space Styria


Conversation with Werner Reiterer

Tuesday, 22.10.2013, 6.30 pm
Boardroom Community Meeting House Leibnitz
Hauptplatz 24, 8430 Leibnitz 


With Werner Reiterer - artist, Helmut Leitenberger - Mayor of Leibnitz, Elisabeth Fiedler - Head Institute Art in Public Space Styria 


Art in Public Space

Marienplatz 1/1
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9265



Duration of the project

13.09.2013 - 28.11.2013