Lest we forget...

The KZ Wiener Neudorf (about 15km south of Vienna) was a satellite camp of the KZ Mauthausen. The prisoners, mainly from Estonia, Poland, Russia, France, Germany and Austria, were used as forced labour workers in the "Flugmotoren-werke Ostmark" (operated by Daimler-Benz). 
In autumn 2014 this memorial, created by the Austrian artist Arik Brauer, was erected. 


The Roman Quarry

The limestone quarry of St. Margarethen is one of the oldest active working quarries throughout Austria and is located in a flat landscape near the Lake Neusiedl.

Alread the Romans where using the quarry for the construction of Carnuntum, the capital of the province Pannonia at the River Danube and it gained national importance in the 16th century. The stone was used at that time for the construction of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna (and it is still the only supplier for the restoration work done there). Later numerous buildings of Vienna's Ringstrasse were built from this stone.

In 1959 the first Symposium of European Sculptors was organized at this location and today it is the arena for opera festivals in the summer (this year with Puccini's Tosca, directed by Robert Dornhelm).

In use since mor than 200 years...
Stonemason's work from the 18th century: The Symbols for culture, king and church
A sculpture ftom the first Symposium of European Sculptors, 1959
The surrounding landscape. More sculptures...
The stage design of Tosca.



When I was working on my book "The Colours of Decay" five years ago I visited this manor house (Schloss Batthyány in Trautmannsdorf/Leitha in Lower Austria) for the first time. It was then in a condition of total decay. Today, having read in the news that the manor has been finally sold last year, I went back to see what has changed...

The extensive, three-wing facility is surrounded by a large park with remnants of the trench and Walling. The castle is a listed building. It was first mentioned in 1292 as part of the border fortifications against the Magyars. In 1756 it was acquired by the counts of Batthyany and after 1810 the classical palace was built. In the crackdown on the revolution in Hungary in 1849, it served as a military hospital. After the death of the childless Prince Philip in 1870, the decline continued. In the vacant castle a sanatorium for lung patients was briefly established. Since 1939, the palace is empty and is left to decay. 

Once there was a Chinese Room and a hall with romantic landscape paintings (some of the painted mythological scenes and zodiac signs are still visible). The exquisite wallpaper of the Chinese Room were brought to Schloss Laxenburg (an Imperial Residence of the Habsburgs). The ceiling of the ballroom on the first floor of the central projection is collapsed. The specially made furniture is completely gone. The huge park surrounding the castle is now completely overgrown.

If anything has changed in the last five years at all it is that the palace has fallen into disrepair even more. And somehow I have the feeling that if the new owner don’t hurry up with the restoration the whole building will fall down over his head…



Maybe mankind's first art form...


The "Weltmaschine" of Franz Gsellmann

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. 
Imagination encircles the world. [Albert Einstein]

In 1958 Franz Gsellmann, a farmer from a small settlement in Styria (Austria), read in a local newspaper about the opening of the "Atomium" at the World Expo in Brussels. He travelled to Brussels (just an enterprise at this time and having not a lot of money). Many years after this journey he said: "As I saw the Atomium, I saw in a dream my finished machine. The Atomium was the foundation of my world machine." From then on he worked twenty-three years until shortly before his death in 1981 on the machine. Almost daily he retired in a closed and shrouded barn to work on the machine, which he presented to family members only after eight years of construction for the first time. The parts of his machine he found mostly on second-hand markets or junkyards. He was often seen by his neighbors as he brought home new finds with the wheelbarrow or oxcart. The machine is about four meters long, two meters wide and four meters high. About 2000 various components are installed into a trembling, vibrating, rotating, rumbling, glowing and flashing device that is operated by 25 electric motors. The machine consists besides coils, tubes and wires from such different parts as an eagle made of porcelain, an organ blower, an infrared lamp, three blue lights, 64 bird whistles, 200 bulbs, 14 bells, a compressed air cylinder as a drive for the wind-driven parts, a toy rocket (that Gsellmann ordered in Japan), and much more. 

That are the facts.

But the idea behind this machine, the dream that Gsellmann had, was never revealed. Nobody today knows if it has any meaning at all, any function. But this doesn't matter. What matters is that he followed his imagination, his dream...


Sacrario di Redipuglia

In May 1915 Italy entered the First World War on side of the Entente and declared war on Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. One war aim was the conquest of Trieste and the Isonzo river was the theater of some of the bloodiest battles of the First World War (with more than 1 mio death)

At the small village of Redipuglia, close to the border of what is now Slovenia, the largest war cemetary for the death of the Isonzo front was errected in 1938. More than 100.000 fallen Italian soldiers are burried here in 22 giant steps - only about 40.000 of them identified, the rest is nameless...



It has been a wonderfull week in Bagni di Lucca and the Bagni di Lucca Art Festival was a great event. Want to thank Shona and Michael for their hospitality and to all the people who came to visit my exhibition: Thanks, your feedback means a lot to me...

Arrivederci. Maybe next year again?

A last impression...


Meanwhile in: Italy 

I have written in an previous post that the "For Sale" sign can be seen frequently on houses in small Toscany villages. At least there is some hope that somebody will buy them, renovate them, fill them with life again. But there are some places for which there are no such positve perspectives...

An abandoned village high up in the mountains above Bagin di Lucca. Inhabited by bats, snakes and lizards only. Overgrown like some Maya temple in the deep jungle. A haunted place...