Mountain of Memories
Residents of Graz Recall the Past
The history of Graz is the history of its residents. Thus the people of Graz were invited to contribute their personal memories and memorabilia for an exhibition held in the tunnel system of the Schlossberg.
A total of approximately 20,000 items of a remembered past was the impressive result of this communication and research project: Photographs, documents and objects of all kinds can be seen by those interested worldwide under www.berg03.at.
In the spring 2002, the academic team of "BISDATO Exhibition and Museum Management" (Karl Stocker, Heimo Hofgartner, Katia Schurl) started to design the "Mountain of Memories" exhibition - an exhibition presenting not only the actions and experiences of individual persons but also the "communicative" history of the city. Since not all the objects could be shown, about 1,000 important exhibits were chosen by the design team headed by Erika Thümmel to be displayed in the tunnel system of the Graz Schlossberg.
The maze-like tunnel system in the interior of the mountain served the exhibition as a metaphor for the labyrinthine paths of memory. Visitors moved freely in any direction - as through the meanderings of the brain - in order to re-encounter well-known but almost forgotten and perhaps even repressed material, and also to get to know aspects of the city which, though spatially near, were perhaps not so familiar. The paths along which they wandered followed more the paths of free association than those of a rigid chronology. Moreover, the exhibition made it possible for some parts of the tunnel system to be revisited for the first time in 58 years.
The total of 17 topics of the "Mountain of Memories" exhibition were grouped together with personal experiences and memories concerning Graz. The captions referring to the thematic focus of a section were exclusively taken from interviews with the "rememberers". For instance, the topic of work was entitled with "And that was my job"; the topic of terror and resistance during the Nazi time bore the caption "You will lose your head!"; and the theme of immigration was "I wouldn't wish these years on anybody".
These authentic memorabilia were artistically understood as crystallisation points of memory. Triggers of mental chains of association, they floated freely in the centre of Euclidean bodies. These plexi-glass cubes, tetrahedrons and octahedrons consequently did not rest on static pedestals but rather floated freely in front of the craggy walls of the tunnel system. The crystals could not be viewed from every angle because some of the cubes were not transparent but brightly coloured, black, reflective or translucent, depending on the object and the tunnel background. Thus visitors saw, depending on the object itself, either its shadow, or a barely discernable outline, or an image of this, tinted in a certain colour.
As an addition and extension to the exhibition, the British VJs from Coldcut + Headspace were invited to artistically grapple with the history of Graz: A selection of sound documents, film footage, videos and photos supplied by the people of Graz could be accessed in an interactive installation and activated by the public through walking on the sensors built into the floor which in turn triggered off the relevant projections. By virtue of this remix of history, completely new contexts and contrasts regarding content and aesthetics were created which impressively demonstrated the relativity of historical representations.
Due to vast public interest, the exhibition was extended by a month.
Exhibition "House of Memories"
Location: Kastner+Öhler department store, entrance Sackstrasse, 4th floor
Duration: 06.06. - 18.10. 2003
On occasion of its 130th anniversary and inspired by the activities of Graz 2003, the Kastner+Öhler department store designed the exhibition "House of Memories". On the 4th floor of the main building (Sackstrasse), memories from days gone by relating to Kastner+Öhler were brought to life - ranging from historical documents to personal memories.
A project by Graz 2003 - Cultural Capital of Europe.