Is there an art scene in Salzburg?

Posted in: Salzburg

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The youngsters we asked insisted that the local scene was “dead,” that their city was consumed by loathesome tourist culture. That just made us more curious: what comes out of a city like Salzburg, which really is one of the most touristy places we have ever seen?

Our quest led to the Salzburger Kunstverein. The museum is housed in a 19th-century building at the edge of the Altstadt. Though the Kunstverein has held contemporary work since it opened, the building’s preservation by a group of Salzburg architects has only increased its multipurpose edginess.

Current visitors enter to find themselves standing in a wraparound hallway with soaring ceilings. The hallway looks as if a giant child had scribbled with a giant crayon all over its walls. The result is nightmarish, overwhelming, and mesmerizing.

Zitko Rocks It
photograph courtesy of Miranda Siegel

It’s the work of Otto Zitko, an artist from Linz who has shown in such biggies as Helsinki’s KIASMA and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and has permanent wall drawings in Vienna, Berlin, and New York. Zitko took a week last July to execute the project, which will be up until July 2007.

Unless the Kunstverein has some grand plans for those walls, we think they should leave Zitko’s work up for good.

About the author

Native New Yorker Miranda fondly recalls family trips to Europe, which featured formative events like spending a night on the roof of an overbooked Greek hotel and sampling the culinary wonders of horse meat. But it was while riding a pony through a patch of wild blueberries in Iceland that she realized she wanted to be an explorer. As an undergrad, Miranda bicycled across the US and lived for several months in Berlin. Nowadays she obsesses over Baltic countries and the plump cream-smothered dumplings to be found there. Fluent in German, she does freelance translation and writes educational material for children.

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