Field Trip Friday: Austrian Cultural Forum

Back in late May, OHNY’s program coordinator, Jailee headed over to the Austrian Cultural Forum to view the exhibition Fünf Räume (on view until September 5th). It can be easy to pass by the Austrian Cultural Forum building without noticing it since it sits among all the other tall buildings in Midtown. However, if you are across the street and happen to glance up the building’s unique design and verticality is very striking. The building, occupying a space of 25 feet wide by 81 feet deep and consisting of 24 floors, is tall and thin. It was designed by Austrian-born American architect, Raimund Abraham.

Austrian Cultural Forum Exterior

The concept of the current exhibition is focused on the unique architecture of the Forum’s gallery spaces. Five contemporary Austrian artists were invited to produce a new piece of art in a particular space, or room (Fünf Räume literally means 5 rooms or spaces in German). The artists chosen have had success in their native country but have yet to gain recognition in the U.S. Their work displays how space can be altered in a most unassuming yet powerful way. Even the entry space of the Forum has been turned into a work of art by Esther Stocker, who has two installations in the exhibition.

Esther Stocker

Esther Stocker, Untitled (2011)

As you walk up to the upper galleries, you encounter a work be Clemens Hollerer that evokes the idea of barriers and boundaries as his color choice is much like the colors used for police barriers.

Clemens Hollerer, On the Other Side (2011)

In the upper gallery is another installation by Esther Stocker that visitors can walk through if careful. It is interesting to see how the work changes as you move throughout the room.

Esther Stocker, Untitled (2011)

As you walk down into the lower mezzanine gallery, you find Zenita Komad and Michael Kienzer’s The Empty Mirror, 2011. This piece using only mirrors, chairs and words, creates a somber and slightly menacing aura. The 16 chairs represent the pawns of a chess game and allude to the important yet inferior role that the pawn plays in the game of chess and, ultimately, in the game of life.

Zenita Komad and Michael Kienzer, The Empty Mirror (2011)

Daniel Domig’s piece in the lower gallery is a cage like structure featuring the only figurative work in the exhibition, featuring haunting paintings of figures that are hung on the exterior of the structure.

Daniel Domig, The Eyes are not Here, There are no Eyes Here (2011)

The exhibition Fünf Räume will be up through Labor Day Weekend and is free and open to the public daily from 10am-6pm. The Austrian Cultural Forum hosts a number of concerts, event and exhibitions. See their calendar of events for more details. They will also be participating in this year’s OHNY on Oct 15 & 16. Tours of the building will available on demand.

All Photos by David Plakke

Austrian Cultural Forum
11 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022

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