Photo by Otto Saxinger
Artists: Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley
Participation through exclusion.
The eleven days of creation was an intervention conceived for the Festival of Regions in Attnang-Puchheim, to investigate the role of rumours, secrets and exclusivity within a community, and reflect on the festival’s presence and legacy, the expectations towards the making of an artwork, the relationship between creation, construction and destruction, and the value of the immaterial.
After seven years of specialising in participative site-specific art, we proclaimed that we wanted to conduct a top-secret anti-participative, site-irrelevant project.
A container was transported into Attnang-Puchheim and placed in the town square. The words ‘top secret’ were emblazoned on the side of the container. A private space was inserted into a public space, in stark contrast to the adjacent festival media center, and a number of other projects taking place in the town square that aimed to be accessible and participative (an invitation to stick your head in some holes, to pick some strawberries, to shoot some art, or climb up into a caravan that had been lifted 3m high off the ground).
For the duration of the festival (11 days) this container served as a workshop, from which a new work of art would emerge. Nobody, other than ourselves, was allowed to enter the container. Local residents and festival visitors could follow our activities by observing what materials were taken into the container, or by listening to the sounds that were created by the tools we were using inside. A large countdown was placed on top of the container to display the number of days we had left to complete our creation. As the week progressed an increasing number of local residents approached us with questions, assumptions, expectations, predictions and opinions. They could only imagine what we were making.
On the final day of the festival we opened our container to reveal the artwork that we had created, a gift to the people of Attnang-Puchheim. Our audience was greeted with a pile of sawdust, metal filings and wood shavings. A microphone stood at the front of the container, inviting the town mayor to read out the following letter:
Dear Mayor, dear residents of Attnang-Puchheim, dear festival visitors,
A pile of sawdust.
A pile of sawdust that represents the result of eleven days of hard physical work. For this pile we have ground down one sheet of 4mm plywood, measured 2,10m by 1,50m, one sheet of 19mm multiplex, measured 1,50m by 2m, four wooden beams with a length of 2,50m, one rectangular steel tube with a length of 3m, one wooden a-frame and one small rubber wheel. While we were busy drilling, sanding, sawing, shaving and filing away at our materials inside the container, a variety of creations and works of art were growing in the imaginations of those that past us by, or stopped to listen in front of our locked doors. We made a list based on discussions that were held with children from the Rosenschule, and visitors who chose to share their thoughts with us. Constructions had grown out of our destruction.
On the first day we created 1300g of sawdust and “one horizontal statue of David”
On the second day we created 1925g of sawdust and “a small house”
On the third day we created 1720g of sawdust and “a telescope”
On the fourth day we created 2440g of sawdust and “a tunnel to the neighbouring bank”
On the fifth day we created 825g of sawdust, “an elephant” and “a tank”
On the sixth day we created 680g of sawdust, “a ship” and “a picture frame”
On the seventh day we created 2000g of sawdust and “a rocket”
On the eighth day we created 9920g of sawdust, “a load of chairs”, “a theatre” and “something nice for the garden”
On the ninth day we created 4825g of sawdust and “nothing”
On the tenth day we created 6025g of sawdust, “a caraven”, “a giant birdhouse”, “a canon” and “a wooden television”
On the eleventh day we rested.
And now? What is the value of this pile? A pile that represents so much, and yet so little.
And what do you do with it? Throw it away? Scatter it like ashes from the mountaintops? Submerge it, packed in an urn, to the bottom of a nearby lake?
Many visitors we spoke to wished for a sustainable and durable sculpture that would be left to the residents of Attnang-Puchheim and placed in an accessible public location. But what is sustainable durable art? Will the ephemeral artworks that have been created over the course of the last eleven days remain in the memories of those who have imagined them, or will they disappear with today’s unveiling? Are the expectations and anticipation surrounding a wrapped gift greater than its contents?
The same questions can be asked of the festival. As storytellers we have accompanied this festival from the first day until the last. And now? What remains from the eleven days of the Festival of Regions, and how can this be evaluated? Will the festival leave behind a sustainable or tangible legacy, or will it disappear like the Emperor’s new clothes?
We thank all of those who have created this artwork with us.
Susanne Kudielka & Kaspar Wimberley
Photos by Otto Saxinger, Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley
All of our actions inside the container were filmed. This film will be made public and sent to Attnang Puchheim to give back the space that we had occupied and privatised during the course of the festival.