Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?" Gansbach, 2018 © Katrin Plavčak
Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?" Gansbach, 2018 © Katrin Plavčak
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
© Katrin Plavčak "Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?", Gansbach, 2018, Foto: Stefan Lux
 

katrin plavčak


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Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät?



Of all the wonderful rhymes and phrases attributed to the popstar Falco, the artist Katrin Plavčak chose the line Kommt der Komet oder kommt er zu spät? (“Is the comet coming or is it actually too late?”) as the title of her three-part, sculptural memorial that was inaugurated in June 2018 at the new Falco Square in Gansbach, Dunkelsteiner Wald. The proximity of the words “coming” and “comet” and the rhyme (Komet/comet and spät/late) in German obviously delighted the popstar. Falco not only translated the Viennese dialect (known as Schmäh) into rap and funk in the 1980s, rising to the top of music charts all over the world, he was also a veritable master of language games. In Plavčak’s theatrical memorial, the comet has hit the earth’s surface, narrowly missing the abstract four-meter-high silhouette of Falco, which consists of four metal sheets, each silver on one side and black on the other. The role of the comet is “played” by a massive block of grey-green Serpentinite with a glittery surface that gives it an alien and exotic look, although Plavčak actually found it in the Asamer stone quarry not far from Gansbach. The power of its impact can be seen in the cracks in the earth’s surface next to the sculpture of Falco balancing on tip-toes, unharmed and unscathed. The four welded sheets look as if they have been pieced together loosely by hand, with Falco’s four arms stretched out wide, his stylized fingers spread.

Plavčak captured the all-embracing, far-reaching gesture of pop music and planted it in Gansbach, Dunkelsteiner Wald, where Falco’s father Alois Hölzel grew up and still lives today. Most contemporary popstars are not capable of such gestures as this, which seems like a cross between a bear-hug and a whooping “Achtung, Achtung!” (watch out!). We rarely sing the same songs anymore, and we no longer have a collection of platinum records on our shelves, with their large covers and their inserts with impressions of styles, hairdos, emotions, attitudes, and ways of doing things. Because we are distanced to all of this today, remembering Falco must be approached through the culture from which this persona emerged in the first place. The widespread disappearance of the record industry has had a deeper impact than merely migrating from vinyl to CDs, or from downloading to streaming. Records once provided pop musicians with a model of identification that said something about how cool they were, how sexy and interesting, and how ready they were for a pop-cultural revolution. If an artist was successful at this game, he or she was like a comet, shining brightly in the sky, although a disproportionate amount of fame and constant danger were also characteristic of this pop music era. It is therefore fitting that Plavčak’s Falco does not focus on his hair, the folds of his exquisitely bespoke Helmut Lang suits, or his personal problems.

Sculptures of major Austrian composers—like the Strausses (father and son), Mozart, and Haydn—are made in a naturalistic style that gives us an idea of the real men behind the melodies. On the other hand, anyone can look at Falco’s face online whenever they want. Kids hanging out at Falco Square today can use their phones to access the Internet and find out who Falco was and what his music sounds like. That this is occurs silently in collective isolation, that musical spaces and youth have become so much quieter, and that the difference and distinction that was once as valuable as gold in the age of records are now met with mistrust are all shifts that have become noticeable in the twenty short years since Falco’s death. That is why it is very fortunate that Plavčak’s four-armed, four-meter-high Falco reminds us of the power and attitude of the golden age of pop music. Plavčak arrived at this form for the memorial while studying Falco’s body language. Her sketchbooks, which she showed to me during a visit to her studio in Vienna, are filled with newspaper clippings of Falco with his arms outstretched and fingers spread. In them, he also usually wears a dress coat or a white tuxedo, which makes him resemble a magician. “He liked to strike a pose,” she said. To her, it was important that the memorial “is not a colossal block in Gansbach.” Instead, she had to think of something Alexander Calder once said about how heavy sculptures also need to feel weightless.

When the sun goes down in Gansbach and the colorful spotlights go on, light and shadow play on the scene, lending it a mysterious, purplish look. The townspeople of Gansbach are already joking about the town’s new red-light district. Nighttime is when the nature of this figure, which changes throughout the day like a moody popstar, is revealed, while we stand in Falco’s shadow. (Sara Khan)



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