oliver hangl, mixed feelings<br />
oliver hangl, mixed feelings<br />
oliver hangl, mixed feelings<br />
oliver hangl, mixed feelings<br />

oliver hangl


mixed feelings

Reinsberg was chosen as the scene and production location fort he project "Mixed Feelings", having previously been selected as the setting for "Common Cause" in 1999. Five artists came to live in Reinsberg for an extended period of time to learn about the events, the history and the stories surrounding the village, and to familiarize themselves with people and institutions, with public life, social conflicts and strategies of self-portrayal for marketing purpose. The real effect of "Mixed Feelings" was hidden between the lines. The preparations and development of the scenario were initiated by Karl Prüller, car mechanic and untiring promoter of cultural activities in the village, who incidentally was responsible for the castle ruin experiment with all ist performances as well as for promoting organic gastronomy in the village. "Mixed Feelings" clearly reflected the kind of intense and discursive operation mentioned above. The project of 2001 proved a continuous tightrope walk in as much as artists had to be found who were keen enough to do on-site piece-work and became engaged in internal as well as external discussions. They then had to be encouraged to go into what seemed at first sight a village very much closed in itself, to carry out research there, to speek approaches and prepare possible stagings. Local residents were at the same time reserved and open, they showed interest, wanted to participate in discussions yet were quick to cover up situations and would alternately open and close doors. As both the preliminary research and the actual project were carried out in a true-to-life situation and some of the artists showed a keen interest in dealing with concrete village history/stories, it was possible to find a real and tangible basis for discussion and critique which is quite rare in the arts world otherwise. At Reinsberg, however, it was not possible to remove oneself from the core issue or to make critique part of a closed art system. The fabric of stories/history, of participiants and recipients was too closely knit for anyone to break away from. There was the case of Hofmühle (mill) where Ricarda Denzer and Barbara Kraus, in preparing ist history and the stories surrounding it, found themselves caught up in a discussion with one of the local families, the mayor and Mr.Prüller on how much biographical detail was to become part of the artistic work. Conflicts were the inevitable consequence and the artists had to interrupt their work temporarily. Several talks were conducted and it soon became clear just how important individual biographies were for recognizing collective processes. Suddenly, looking at the dealing with an outsider’s life story was no longer considered an act of voyeurism but rather a way of coming to terms with common history outside any person’s private or family life. Many of the artists came from similar village or small-town backgrounds, a fact which opens up additional perspectives fort he whole scenario. The boundaries between people’s own history, their stories and memories, and those of the village had become blurred. The title is descriptive of the structure, the procedure and the actual course of the project. It refers to the "mixed feelings" people have when "strangers" enter their village. There are the "mixed feelings" of being at home, in a place of intimacy and familiarity, while at the same time being on the outside, being looked at suspiciously, having no access to communities, etc. And then there are the "mixed feelings" of being looked at as an artist, a young person showing interest, but also as an intruder, a stranger, someone from Vienna (the city!), or even a left-wing activist. The former supermarket Gruber, located next to the church in the village center, was adapted as the main communication hub. The Hofmühle, an old mill with a lot of history and many stories to tell, was chosen as a second focus fort he project.

Oliver Hangl drew on the unusually keen interest of the 900 soul community in cultural productions (of their own) to create his "Reinswood", which he developed in several parts. The success of productions like his is due in large measure to the multifunctional skills of some of the village's inhabitants (in their capacity as artists and organizers outside their jobs). Hangl simply decleared Reinsberg a "place of artists" for the duration of the exhibition, turning it into a stage for collective and individual performances. In a first step, he has the letters "REINSBERG", 5m high and 30m long, mounted on the castle hill Hollywood style. He then goes on to stage a kind of casting in the church square. People from the village arriving in their Sunday suits are made up and styled to pose for a shooting. How does a village prepare for public appearance? With flower orgies organised by the society for the improvement of local amenities, folklore competitions, women's caps knitted in gold, suits, make-up, posing on their tractors, posing with their cows? What media are used to transmit such a performance? (gold caps on the Internet?) Oliver Hangl operates at the crossroads of theatre, film and visual arts. He creates his performances with the help of actors and musicians, and tries to link elements of film and theatre - focussing on visual details and switching between space and time to create the kind of immediacy of expressive gesture which is unrepeatable. He stages artistc glimpses of scenes which the audience is invited to enrich with the clichés and fictions of their own identity. The construction and perception of these images are examined by means of the various media - film, video, music, entertaining multimedia live acts, selected according to the situation or context described.

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