Back ground of this Project/ Eva Schlegel
The first contact with the building took place on a tour with artists and Mr. Stadlhuber, the director of BIG. We were fascinated right away by the abandoned spaces that still reflected the history of the temporary detainees and began studying the graffiti on the walls. These graffiti told stories and let the spaces come to life again. I was also immediately taken by the structure of the building, the layout of the cells in long corridors – with all of the doors open and the locks removed for security reasons because the cells could not be opened from the inside. And I was even more taken by the almost absurd colors in which the corridors were painted – flesh color, cream yellow, bright orange and a faint pastel blue. Here I encountered my first difficulty photographing the space, since I was forced to grapple with the beauty and the pastel shades of the rooms in my attempt to reveal the dark dimension. In conversations with the detention center’s teacher Wolfgang Riebniger it became clear why the space was painted in these colors. The detained juveniles had to paint the corridors every six months to keep them busy and in doing so they showed real imagination by accentuating the incident light in different shades in the window jambs.
I was impressed by the different manifestations of the building – on the one hand, the generous representative corridors and court rooms and on the other, the offices, the cramped, barren area of the cell tract. After walking through this building a number of times it became clear to me that this building functioned like a machine, a separate world. The heating rooms in the basement, the kitchen, the workshops, the archives – all of this was run with the help of the “detained“ workforce, the inmates. Wolfgang Riebniger helped us identify the rooms since he had worked in the building when it was still used as a juvenile court and was able to give us information about each detail.
The book is divided into various parts. For the first part, Eva Würdinger used her medium-format camera to portray the empty building from a static-architectural perspective. In the second part of the book, my photographs give a more atmospheric rendering of the rooms. I spent many days wandering through the building with friends who appear again and again in the photographs, vicariously representing the relationship of man and space. While photographing, I often had to leave the building for a short time, since the atmosphere was still oppressive and could become depressing. The last part of the book presents a series of graffiti and inscriptions on the walls.
Erika Ratvay, who also accompanied the photographers, did the layout of the book and arranged the photographs so that they form a spatial sequence. While leafing through this book, you have a chance to walk through the building.