1995 - 1996
Klagenfurt, Vienna, Milan
Italy : Austria
The project ITALY : AUSTRIA is an exploration of the images, opinions, memories, resentments and cliches which connect and separate the two countries – from Mozart to the Mafia, from minority politics to fashion.
The first phase of the project consisted of interviews with approximately one hundred citizens from both countries. The interviewees were requested to name as spontaneously as possible approximately ten words or terms which they felt were particularly applicable to the other country. Then they were requested to do the same for their own country. Although the participant’s descriptions of their own country demonstrated a more realistic perspective, their responses regarding the other country were by no means superficial touristy idealizations. And yet there were also cases in which a distrust of foreigners or an idealization of the native country, region or province became apparent. In total, the survey produced a potpourri of seemingly coincidental associations and prejudices as well as observable patterns of collective behavior and illustrations of personal fates, social fears, critical self-reflection and projections of blame.
LABYRINTH: Assiduously taking the statements at face value, the verbal associations garnered from the interview context are (re)construed in a transparent three-dimensionality. The outer surfaces of the words from the interviews are visualized in bilingual script bars assembled into large skeletal frames. From the remembered images and imagined cliches, a labyrinthine path built out of these “empty” frames leads via the word first spoken and then made visible in writing to new images overlaying those which were originally seen and thought.