Intervention: Werner Reiterer at Belvedere, Vienna
Werner Reiterer, Breath, 2009
Intervention: Werner Reiterer
The series of interventions by contemporary artists in the Upper Belvedere continues with the installation BREATH by Werner Reiterer.
In this series the Belvedere has been inviting artists - Brigitte Kowanz, Gudrun Kampl, Franz Kapfer, and Christian Hutzinger so far - to make an artistic statement about specific aspects of the architecture or the collection and to present their own work in the context of the Belvedere. The diversity of the interventions to date highlights the historical, cultural, and political significance of this exceptional site. Illusion and reality merge in the Marble Hall in a variety of ways. Starting in this impressive room, visitors proceed to the outstanding masterpieces in the other rooms of the Upper Belvedere. The grand panoramic view of the city of Vienna and the Vienna Woods sloping down to the Danube Plain bears witness to the dramatic vision of Johann Lukas Hildebrandt, the architect who designed the Baroque palace.
The Austrian artist Werner Reiterer uses the majestic setting of the Marble Hall in the center of the Upper Belvedere to make the visitor the focus of his artistic intervention. Since the mid-1980s Reiterer has been working extensively with graphics, sculpture, and installations. One of the diverse strategies he uses in his works is to study human behavior in a public, institutional space. The intervention BREATH calls on the public to put aside their learned sociocultural rules of behavior. The interactive character of the installation functions as a sculptural catalyst designed to illuminate the museum as an institution and building in the truest sense of the word. If visitors follow Reiterer's instructions to yell as loud as they can, the chandeliers begin to 'breathe' visually in time with the sound of a person panting. The entire room is transformed for a short moment into a huge living being as this impressive light and sound installation rouses the Marble Hall from its Baroque slumber. Since the sound level required to trigger the interactive installation is very high, visitors are forced to overcome their social inhibitions and to draw attention to themselves by yelling loudly. All the different components - visitors and attendants, architecture and artworks - become part of the artistic process, but the courage of a visitor is required to break the contemplative silence of the surroundings by yelling out loud and making the installation start working. The deliberate flouting of the rules of behavior sets off multifaceted processes of communication between the public, art, and the institution.