Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Vienna’

My Vienna: the final stop at the central cemetery

Above/featured: The cemetery’s Gate 2 (2. Tor) designed by Maximilian Hegele, who was Otto Wagner’s student and also responsible for the construction of the Fillgraderstiege steps in Mariahilf.

Where: Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof).
Who: Beethoven, Boltzmann, Falco, Lamarr, Schütte-Lihotzky, Strauss I and II.
Why: Cross-section of cultural and economic history for capital city and nation.

In Vienna, tram 71 begins in the Old Town; goes around the western half of the inner ring past City Hall, national Parliament, and the Opera House; and heads southeast to the city’s main cemetery or the Zentralfriedhof. There’s a saying particular to the city’s residents, a phrase which means they’ve died by “going to the end of the line.”

Sie haben den 71er genommen.” (“They took the 71.”)

As Europe’s 2nd largest cemetery, the Zentralfriedhof covers a surface area of 250 hectares (618 acres). There are over 300-thousand graves, among them 1000 are in the “honorary” or Ehrengräber category. Over three million people of all religious denominations are buried in the cemetery, which was established in 1863 with the first burial taking place in 1874. In the present, 20 to 25 funerals take place every day.

I had at the outset wanted to find the graves of a couple of physicists whose work formed an important part of my scientific education. Then, I discovered the names of musicians buried here. Then, I learned the names of important figures in Vienna’s history. And then, I realized coming here to visit would be a slow measured sweeping wave through Austria’s artistic, cultural, and industrial history.

Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Gedächtnis-Kirche, Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Gedächtnis-Kirche (Dr. Karl Lueger Memorial Church), near the centre of the cemetery. For his time as Vienna mayor from 1897 to 1910, Lueger’s legacy is both visionary modernist and anti-Semitic opportunist.

Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

Group 32A: Beethoven (grave, no.29), Mozart (memorial, no.55), Schubert (grave, no.28)

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My Vienna: Holocaust Memorial, by Rachel Whiteread

Where: Judenplatz, in Vienna’s Altstadt.
What: Holocaust Memorial, by Rachel Whiteread (2000).

How do you commemorate or memorialize the absent or missing? How should the void be acknowledged, recognized, and remembered? Does the act of constructing a physical monument “draw a line”, creating a physical manifestation of marking an end that gathers and wipes away all subsequent future responsibility for remembering?

In Vienna’s Old Town, what was unjustly and violently removed from the city’s long historical memory and cultural identity comes into shape at Judenplatz. Under the public square are ruins of the medieval synagogue destroyed in the pogrom of 1421 with hundreds of Jews driven out, hundreds killed by burning, and the community erased. Directly above these ruins is the Holocaust Memorial which attempts to generate experiences and memories to address the void left behind after the systematic murder of 65-thousand people.

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My Vienna: Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, mother of the modern kitchen

Who: Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky.
Key: 1st woman architect in Austria, designer of something we take entirely for granted.
Quote: “I developed the kitchen as an architect, not as a housewife.”
Where: MAK Vienna.

I always liked how cooking had well-defined endpoints: a desirable start, and a satisfying conclusion. I enjoy the process: the contemplation of “what to make,” the gathering of ingredients, the preparation, and naturally, the consumption. There might also be something to say about the duality of creation and annihilation …

That got me to thinking about kitchens as a critical unit of a home. Before the 20th-century, the wealthy could afford to have staffed kitchens; everybody else had access to no kitchen or an unsafe unhygienic kitchen in a building separate to their living quarters. The assumed universality of a kitchen within a home is a 20th-century concept and implementation that sought to overcome social and economic class. The design of a modern kitchen invites repeated patterns of movement and action around where cookware, utensils, condiments, glassware, etc. are stored and where the central focus of cooking activity takes place.

For everyone who spends any time in a kitchen, we have Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky to thank.

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My Vienna: metro frame

Above/featured: Urania (1910), Aspernbrücke Bridge (1951), and Uniqa Tower (2005) from left to right – 16 May 2018, 6D1.

It’s easy to reduce a city to stereotypes, distilling landmarks to short paragraph summaries designed for easy consumption.

Some might say: you’re making things too complicated; they’ve got to be simpler. That misguided sentiment needlessly and carelessly minimizes the diversity and complexity of a city, her people, and the infrastructure through which citizens reside, navigate, and thrive. Although I chased after traces of Otto Wagner throughout Vienna, I’m also interested in illuminating the city as reflections from past and present and as glimpses of resident and visitor.

Vienna is an exceptional city

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My Vienna: Disrupting Historicism with Modernism

Above/featured: Modernism at Steinhof Church: building by Otto Wagner, angels by Othmar Schimkowitz, stained glass by Koloman Moser (HL).

Vienna is as much a present-day cultural capital city as she was for decades and centuries. Many will get a peek and taste of long-established aspects of the city by walking the streets of the Old Town for the atmosphere, chatting in cozy cafés with coffee and cake for the ambience, and swaying to the rhythms of the waltz under the spell of the (blue) Danube.

The early years of the 20th-century were troubled by greater calls for more autonomy from multiple ethnic groups within the patchwork of the Austro-Hungarian empire, by destruction and loss of life from The Great War (World War I), and by subsequent dissolution of the Empire. The capital city became an open theatre for socioeconomic and political changes across all class divisions within an environment where rebellion and revolution were the big talking points against the dogma of long-held traditions. Deep longing for the stability of the old and familiar mingled with equally enthusiastic desire for the radical of the new and mysterious.

Many in the arts, design, and cultural scene were questioning the excessive persistence of past styles, and were seeking something new to better represent changes happening all around them in Vienna. In 1897, a group of artists and architects resigned from the established Künstlerhaus to form the Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs (Union of Austrian Artists), known also as the Vienna Secession. Architecture moved towards a sharper focus to geometry and abstraction, and art flowed to the decorative with organic floral-like designs in the Jugendstil, Art Nouveau’s chapter in German-speaking lands. To promote their new ideas, the Secession group produced an official magazine called Ver Sacrum (“sacred spring” in Latin, 1898) and constructed the Secession building (1897) as an exhibition hall to display their work. The Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) was created in 1903 as an association of artists whose thinking and applied arts creations were a precursor to the Bauhaus movement. Members of the Werkstätte worked with Vienna’s architects to broaden and unite the various concepts for a complete artwork, or Gesamtkunstwerk, as applied to a living space: the house, its rooms and furnishings, the interplay of light and space, and the tools and utensils for every day aspects of living.

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