Viktor Kröll

Opus Magnum 13


Built as the summer residence of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria in the 16th century in the as yet undeveloped Mur flood plains, the “Karl-au” (literally, the “Charles flood plain”) pleasure palace was used by Emperor Joseph II in 1794 to house French prisoners of war. Today, Graz-Karlau Prison is the third-largest prison in Austria, with male inmates serving sentences of between three years and life imprisonment.

Now geographically embedded in the south-western area of Graz, it is situated alongside one of the city’s busiest junctions and a household name to the people of Graz.

As a place of surveillance and punishment, Karlau fits into the system described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish, a system which remains under discussion to this day. Above all the fact that surveillance practices are not, as he claimed, processes which take place outside of society, that it was power techniques and structures developed in the 16th and 17th century which first constituted subjects for these spaces, subjects which then go to make up society, would seem to prove true again and again, for example when one considers Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks or the NSA and their whistleblower Edward Snowdon, with the concomitant issues of crime, control and freedom.

The permeability of systems, surveillance, punishment and jurisdiction in society and in the global community of states remains both virtually and territorially an explosive issue. Parallel to this we see increasingly boundless economic interests that, among other things, aim to suggest to us the necessity of a particular product with the aid of expansive advertising spaces.

This is precisely the point of departure for Viktor Kröll’s intervention in public space:

Consulting the prison management and involving inmates, passers-by and the artist Rossella Libardoni, Kröll visually perforates the 300m-long prison wall by applying a picture with no recognisable subject and consisting of black dots on a white background. Based on a visual concept with no apparent message, he condenses colour or leaves certain areas empty. As a symbol of the connection of rational thought and allowing the unconscious he works with both hands. This work does not take the form of political acclamation, like Murales, nor is it decorative and prettifying or promoting a particular market; instead it is an Opus Magnum, a title chosen ironically by Kröll in view of the sheer dimensions in order, among other things, to undermine and question economic interests and slogans by adding the caption Probably the largest mural in Austria (an allusion to a slogan for chocolate bars).

It is not advertising information but shimmering dynamics which initiates a process in the minds of passers-by and drivers which gives rise to images in their minds.

Within the compass of questions concerning public space he thus not only creates a new awareness of a boundary wall, at the same time the vast mural subjects the omnipresent enactment of wishes and their fulfilment to new reflection. Virtual and real worlds collide, with Kröll transforming a potential advertising space into an ambiguous work replete with social references.


Dr. Elisabeth Fiedler - Head of Institute Art in Public Space Styria


Viktor Kröll, Born 1979 in Graz, lives and works in Schwarzenegg (Weitendorf).


Opening: 12.12.2013, 6 pm

Fasching`s Gasthaus

Vinzenz-Muchitsch-Gasse 6

8020 Graz

Art in Public Space

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


Panorama von Gerd Suppan: