Salon de Passage #3

Gathering, Hunting, Cultivating ‚Green’

Hosted by Lucie Strecker

And the AIL, Universität für Angewandte Kunst, PSK Kassenhalle


Our virus cousins still misbehaving there was quite a gap between Salon 2 and 3.

Yet when it finally came along, hosted by Lucie Strecker under the title “Gathering, Hunting, Cultivating ‚Green’” it was an event worthy of the month of May humans love to associate with romance, for once following the example of their wise ancestors, the plants, in their blooming.

The Salon marked the very transition of the PSK “Kassenhalle” from historical monument, displaying its own emptiness and richness of patterns (See Salon #02) to a space very much in use by contemporary inhabitants, filling its sublime space with coffeehouse furniture, acoustic machinery (for the echo is fierce in a high room of so many hard surfaces) and of course themselves. 

This Salon had the challenge and the privilege to set a first mark.

Digging deep into the bottomless archives of the “Angewandte” Lucie Strecker found beautiful old carpets, almost impossible to carry, and covered the central space of the “Kassenhalle” with their dark glowing colours.

What a contrast, what a treat to many senses.

For the echo, it was softened a bit.

The space was opened for words spoken and sung.

One man after the other was giving a lecture – a wealth of information almost impossible to contain.

Robert Linke though impressed us greatly with his knowledge of the chemical fundamentals of architecture and the pervasive urban designs Ottow Wagner had created to give the Metropolis of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire a first case of a conceptual corporate identity – only moments before its decline.

Yet while the great city was soon to be great no more, his designs persist. But they are made of stuff, and stuff is always eroding. We know best, for we are in a way erosion turned into a lifestyle.

So Linke provided an insight into methods of restoration that also bring to light what has been hidden. We learned that Otto Wagner’s famous Green was meant to be gray – as could be seen in the room where we sat. In the “Kassenhalle” there is elegant egg shell off white and metallic gray, but no green at all.

Green was just a standard solution to provide for durability. A most practical, ordinary solution that became a trademark. 

Green, we learned from Jens Hauser, who is on that particular hunt for many years – Green is a suspicious colour.

Hunters wear green to remain hidden from their prey – provided there is still a forest to be hidden in. Yet what does it mean if the colour Green is the thing to be hunted? We tried by going on a photo safar the next day, shooting pictures of any kind of Green we could find.

Is it really toxic, like the Victorian wallpapers dyed with arsenic to feed colonial dreams of exotic places with a glowing emerald green?

Or is it too elastic, lending itself to ecological issues as well as to any artificiality?

Is green the opportunist among the colours?

We could not say, for you see – to us colours are not what they are to the human eye. They are just one kind of vibration, and their spectrum is not allowing for any one colour to be seen in isolation. 

So word gave way to song.

A song praising the Otto-Wagner railings with their imperial yet still fresh and clear design, giving orientation to everyone, framing the facilities of public transport and the borders between rivers and firm grounds, protecting many thresholds that could hold dangers for the drunk, desperate and very young – this song was finally sung.

It is called “I Mecht a Glanda sein”

Which, in standard English, means: I want to be a railing.

And it goes on:

Wö donn kenn I ollas vabindn

Wos sunst so furchtboa getrennt bleibn muass

I want to be a railing

For then I could connect

Everything that otherwise

would be forced to stay apart