Takeover Street Art & Skateboarding @ Wien Museum July 5th-September 1st 2019

The exhibition “Takeover” on skateboarding and street art opened yesterday with the vernissage at the “old” Wien Museum on Vienna’s Karlsplatz. The exhibition is a kind of temporary use before the Wien Museum is rebuilt and enlarged. The exhibition on “Red Vienna” and staff have already moved to Felderstraße 6-8 in the 1st district. Yesterday there was a colorful and mixed audience at the opening, one that is rather unusual for the Wien Museum. It can also be assumed that it was seldom so crowded at the opening of the museum. The visitors were scattered all over Karlsplatz as an inspection of the interiors was quickly done, unless one wanted to skate at the installed skate area inside. Also it was crowed inside with newly arriving visitors until the end.

Since I have lived in Berlin for a long time and have reported about graffiti (for example Backjumps, City of Names, Jazzstyle Corner) and have curated exhibitions/ festivals on the topic in Hamburg myself, the “Street Art” part of the exhibition disappointing. Graffiti (and to a lesser extent skateboarding) in the interior is always problematic and a challenge, because here comes together what does not belong together. Nevertheless, there are best practice examples, solutions that are less problematic than others. These practices seem largly unknown in Vienna, which has never been an important place or reference for the international scene so far. And this becomes also obvious through the (setup of the) exhibition. However, due to the temporary use, it was at least possible to apply works directly to the walls. Two works were attached to the outer façade.

Pressefoto Wien Museum

press photo Wien Museum

Nonetheless “Takeover” is something special for Vienna, because graffiti or skateboarding (to my knowledge) have not yet been exhibited in the Wien Museum as city culture or folk art and have therefore been recognized or valued. Of course, there are also very distinctive characters moving in these scenes and it is certainly not easy to reconcile all the actors and to overcome the usual institutional hurdles according to their needs. This exhibition shows the Wien Museum and other museums that want to master such a task and still have a lot to learn. But it is a beginning.

Much more sophisticated and successful than the “Street Art” part was the skateboarding area. This may also have something to do with the fact that fewer protagonists*were involved here, or that some people had thought up a concept on everyones behalf and had apparently already realized a photo book “Freizeit Baustelle” and transferred parts of it to the exhibition space.

Also the video documentation – that is essential for both scenes – had been considered by the skaters, and was absent at the graffiti area. Unfortunately, also in the skate area a wild confusion of wall paintings was applied, eventhough this is also the case outdoors on illegal spots, where nobody curates either, but such an exhibition is an opportunity to discuss and realize conceptual approaches together, as it sometimes happens with legal walls, halls of fame or gallaries. I was told there had been problems with the ventilation and the painting of the skate park could not be fully realized as planned.

press photo Wien Museum

Also the first event of the supporting programme, a discussion on the faszination of (illigal) street art “the myth of graffiti” showed that Graffiti is more or less an unkown territory in Vienna. One finds amazing walls near Donau and Donaukanal, also trains and walls near the tracks are frequently painted, but one can assume that a lot of it is done by visiting graffiti writers from other countries. This is also how the first graffiti appeared on a train in Vienna in the 1990s as the discussion revealed. Oldschool rapper and graffitiwriter Skero recounted that he was one of the first writers back then and one of the few who would travel abroad to get information about graffiti and brought this knowledge back to Austria. A pressumption is that the Vienna Graffiti scene never made proper use of the incredible international network that existed within Graffiti since its inception or better after spreading beyond the borders of New York and US in the late 1980s. Maybe this was due to the temptation of the comfort zone or to the Austrian/ Vienna condition mentioned by some people I know or have interviewed that Vienna was grey and dull in the 1980s until the mid-1990s and there was no information on things that were of interest in other European cities already (like Graffiti or Techno). Further film screenings or discussions will happen within the next weeks and might shed more light on Skateboarding and Streetart in Vienna.


Text of Wien Museum:

“Vandalism or art? Street art and skateboarding polarize. They are at once creative and destructive, art and irritation, sport and lifestyle. As late as the 2000s, they were mainly considered a nuisance; today, they have the status of pop cultural phenomena. Street art and skateboarding are seen as invigorating elements of urban life, even motors for tourism and economic development.

We invite prominent protagonists to transform the museum, allowing everyone the opportunity to discover the scenes in entirely new ways. The building is split into two zones: on the ground floor, it’s DIY; on the first floor, there’s a “Hall of Fame.” Vienna is the focus. More than 30 artists – all stalwarts of Vienna’s street art scene – take possession of the museum’s walls. Old exhibition furniture is turned into a skate park using concrete. There is much to discover and much to do – from skateboarding courses to workshops on various street art techniques. Please, join us!” (Homepage Wien Museum)


Abend, Paul Busk, Cane, Chinagirl Tile, Deadbeat Hero, die 78er, Frido Fiebinger, Flör, Christian Fischer, Frau Isa, Emanuel Jesse, Friend, Golif, Wolfgang Hartl, Herbalizer, Olivier Hölzl, Junek, Leopold Kessler, KLITCLIQUE, Knarf, Kollektiv Kimäre, Kryot, MALR, Keno Meiners, Thomas Mock, moiz, Monsterzeit, Lym Moreno, NDZW, Nychos, Peks, Perk_up, Phekt, Jamy Preiml, Ripoff Crew, Ruin, Jan Schiefermair, Maximilian Schneller, Philipp Schuster, Gitti Scholz, Seco, Secret Society of Super Villain Artists (SSOSVA), Shue, Skero, Skirl, Speaker-23, Spraycity, Spoff Parks, Tabby, Video Oner, Vienna Murals u.a.


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