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"Antonio Riello. Flaktürme down"
2005-03-23 until 2005-04-10
Kunsthalle Wien, Museumsquartier
Wien, , AT Austria

The game of antagonisms appeals greatly to Italian artist Antonio Riello. He challenges his chosen themes by using conscious discrepancies between material and subject, form and content. For the exhibition ‘Flaktürme down’ at the project space, Riello has constructed scale models (120) of four of Vienna’s six World War II flak towers – from 1,000 kilos of sugar cubes. Visitors to the exhibition are given carte blanche to demolish this sweet variant on fascist war achitecture and take chunks home as mementos. Two generations after National Socialism, these monumental utilitarian structures remain fixtures of Vienna’s peacetime urban landscape, but by dismantling their sugary guise piece by piece, they will be reduced to the pitiful fate of mere souvenirs.

Antonio Riello explains that he felt impelled towards the idea for this exhibition through his strong conviction that art can act as a social liberation from the past: ‘My work is intended as a gift to the longsuffering people of Vienna who have had to tolerate the presence of these bleak fearinspiring witnesses of an obscure past in the parks and gardens of their city. Rather like those Parisians who witnessed the storming of the Bastille or the people of Berlin during the fall of the Wall, I like to think that the Viennese will now have the opportunity to demolish these symbols of evil through an art event of a collective nature.’

During the Second World War, the Nazis erected six military towers throughout the city. Made of steel reinforced concrete, they were used as bunkers for the civil population and equipped with antiaircraft guns trained on Allied bombers. For years the authorities have considered ways of demolishing the flak towers. At the project space, Antonio Riello will unleash a work of ironic annihilation of this symbol of total war. Using over 1,000 kilos of sugar cubes, he creates detailed reproductions of the towers which will then be slowly taken apart by means of a slow yet inexorable breakdown. Visitors may take away the broken pieces as souvenirs.


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