With the prerequisite powdery virginal snow, breathtaking mountainous landscapes and crisp Alpine air, we’ve carefully curated an insider’s guide to independent Alpine hotels, ski chalets, retreats and lodges that exude soul.
Unless you’re using it as in the very inclusionary context of “my brother from another mother”, most of the time signaling someone out as coming from somewhere else than where you come from becomes, to some degree or another, a confrontational act. Let’s face it, people like to belong, and so much so that even if it’s an idea that isn’t working out all of the time, most also like to believe in the growing global community. The current cultural currency of that ideal of global community is never more evident than in recent telecommunications ads, and if you take their message at face value, buying that new phone or switching provider isn’t just going to put you in touch with people in every corner of the globe, that virtual net is the very fabric of a new and better world. Certainly owning these products won’t do anything to further the cause unless you actually use them to communicate with people in every corner of the globe, and not many will, but there’s still one question left hanging unanswered: is there any sincerity to it, or is all the “brother from another mother”-style inclusionary rhetoric just covering up the truly exclusionary nature of our times?
You’ve heard of music and arts festivals before, I’m sure. Throw in some political discourse on top and you have the unique blend of a very individual festival, indeed: the Elevate Festival. Starting today in Graz, Elevate achieves it’s special mix by combining discussions, workshops, lectures, and film screenings with a program of contemporary music performers and DJs. If you’re not sold on it yet, how often do you get to go to something inside Graz’s historic Schlossberg? After taking an elevator literally down inside the hill, you’ll spend your festival time in a series of caves and tunnels inside the rock.
This year’s line-up of performing artists is so extensive, you need to read it for yourself, but expect an eclectic program that ranges from evenings of house, to avant pop, to psychedelic noise rock. The diversity offered at Elevate is made possible by extending the usual 3-day festival program to 6 days, and utilizing several venues means that on some days, you’ll have 4 simultaneous concerts to pick from. Just remember when you’re dancing to the last DJ’s set at 6am, the program of talks and films probably kicks off at 10am…to party through, or to power-nap, that is the question…
You’ve probably got everything planned already if you’re traveling to Graz for Elevate Festival this year, but how do you immerse yourself in the arts in Graz during the rest of the year? Easy – at White Line Hotels edit Schlossberghotel the art is so close, you’re sleeping in the same room with it.
At the beginning of the 70s he was a Formula One racing driver. Later he became a barrister, and as if to never be accused of not having lived a life diverse enough, he’s even opened 2 hotels in Graz. Even a brief glance at Dr. Helmut Marko’s CV is an inspiration to go after the things in life that you enjoy. Recently we caught up with him to ask a few questions about his art collection in White Line Hotels edit Schlossberghotel — wait, did we forget to mention he’s an art collector too?
Racing Driver. Barrister. Hotelier. Art collector. You’ve certainly been known by many titles. What do all these things share for you?
That’s easy to answer: passion.
When you started planning the Schlossberghotel, was the concept of it as an “art hotel” there from the beginning, or was that something that evolved?
We never had a concept of an „art hotel“. It evolved during the time.
Obviously a hotel is a very different space for viewing art than a museum or gallery is. What are the best things about this kind of atmosphere for art? Are there any drawbacks?
Not at all! It is pleasure for me to see the art every day and to make it possible for our guests to enjoy them with me.
Schlossberghotel has been called Europe’s finest art hotel, and your collection housed in it certainly is impressive. What was the first work of art you saw that inspired this passion?
My first picture was from Hans Staudacher, with the title “Spuren”. In English I would say “to leave one´s mark”. There is so much inspiration and lightness combined with a kind of craziness in the picture. It is still in the Schlossberghotel and it reminds me all the time of this passion.
From what I understand, the collection isn’t just in public spaces at the hotel, but in the rooms as well. Do people ask when making a reservation to be placed in a room with a work by a favorite artist? Do you think that chance for real intimacy with a work is one of the draws of the Schlossberg?
The art is everywhere! In all rooms, breakfast area, lobby etc. as well as sculptures at the roof top terrace and inner court yards. Sure, we have guests who prefer some special rooms!
Your collection is very focused on Austrian art. Do you feel a particular connection to local art and artists?
I combine art with all my travels around the world. If there is a fantastic picture, for example, in China – I buy it as well. The focus is on Austria, especially on young talents.
What’s next for you?
Let’s see. Step by step. Nothing special in mind…
There are a lot of variations in the expression of the sentiment, but “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is probably the cleanest and the most classic. How true it is. Ai WeiWei was certainly a far cry from unknown at the time of his April 2011 arrest – his installation Sunflower Seeds was concurrently housed in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall – but the outpouring of outright love from the art world that followed his arrest and detention in an undisclosed location brought the artist to an even higher level of fame. As speculations of his death in detainment were growing, nearly 3 months after his initial arrest he was finally released. Hopefully without being too glib about what was indeed a horrific experience for the artist, a speculated death can be as good the real thing in terms of a career move.
Now nearly 3 months after his release, his exhibition Interlacing at Kunsthaus Graz demands one additional question when viewing an Ai WeiWei: is it possible now to separate the persona of the artist from the body of work? Was it ever so with Ai WeiWei anyway, or was his persona always “interlaced” with the work? True, you could easily ask those same questions in relation to just about any artist, but when the body of work is so centered on cultural and political criticism, the position of the ego within it, justified or not, more easily becomes a point of debate.
However you feel about it – and who says you have to make up your mind now anyway? – from September 16th Kunsthas Graz will be presenting Interlacing, the first large-scale exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s photographic and video work, just taken over from the Fotomuseum Winterthur. It is certainly one not to miss if you’re in Graz between now and the 15th of January next year.
Contributing writer: Melissa Frost
Photos: From Kunsthaus Graz, all © Ai Weiwei.