“By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept” goes a famous line from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” echoing the Bible. If we were to adapt this verse to the city of Graz, it would read as follows: By the waters of Mur the London architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier sat down and…proceeded to some little more constructive actions. The outcome of these actions is Kunsthaus Graz, an astonishing architectural work that makes the use of the phrase “Waste Land” a waste of time and for the discovery of which, if you’re exclusively following the Biblical paths, I’m afraid you’re very likely to get lost.. In order to give you a whole picture of this masterpiece of architecture I’ll call upon the long hours you spent gaining an insight into the future, that is: watching “Star Trek” and wishing that Scotty beams you up into another reality. Well, if you’re still fantasizing about it and still feel sometimes that “beam-me-up” secret urge, you’ve got now three possibilities: you can go visit Graz or..you can just go visit Graz or ..you can simply go visit Graz.
You’ll find there, right beside the old Clock Tower of the city a huge, enthralling interface between past and future whose lights during the night could teach even torches to burn bright, as Shakespeare would put it, or just make the starship Enterprise turn pale, as maybe captain Picard would put it. Although those lights may seem astronomical, they are basically electrical and they share all the same name: BIX. That is a matrix of hundreds of fluorescent lamps integrated into the Eastern Plexiglas façade of the museum and conceived by the Berlin architects “realities:united”. This architectural additional device acts as an impressive urban screen where different animations, films or other artistic productions can be displayed but it acts equally as a magical radiant outer skin that envelops the biomorphic structure of the museum and invite you inside.
Two large exhibition rooms challenge the visitors’ imagination with their monumentality and unusual geometry, revealing at the same time a complex range of features and functions bathed in modern lighting. Like many a museum, Kunsthaus Graz serves as a multi-disciplinary venue for exhibitions, events and other means of presenting contemporary art, new media, and photography. But by its innovative structure, this museum inspires more than any other one the choice of artists who, by their exhibitions, aim to respond to this peculiar architecture character, developing projects that explore the potentiality of this space. Without claiming to draw a conclusion all I can say is that before visiting this museum it had never occurred to me that what could get me think out of the box one day will be stepping into the “black box” of Kunsthaus Graz inside of which the well-known words “Space, the final frontier” have suddenly another meaning. Where no Klingons are involved.
Author: Valentina Tirlea