The Josefinian Committee for Enjoyment (named after an edict of emperor Josef II dedicating the Augarten park to the population at large for their pleasure i.e. Erlustigung) was founded early 2008 by slyly-smiling Viennese persons. The idea was to hold warning meetings to keep a bacchantic-baroque eye on the corner of the Augarten Park called “Augartenspitz”. In her inaugurating speech one of the founders of this committee, Ms. Raja Schwahn-Reichmann stated the aims of the Josefinian Committee for Enjoyment for which various activities are being carried out.

We wish to draw public attention to the unique beauty of the “Augartenspitz” at the north-east corner of the park, i.e. entrance of the “Filmarchiv Austria” on the junction of Castellezgasse and Obere Augartenstrasse. This piece of the imperial garden is being roused from an innocent slumber by the intentions of the Vienna Boys’ Choir to build a concert hall there. Not only would such a building greatly damage one of the last remaining complete National Heritage baroque gardens; it would also rob Vienna of a piece of natural recreation area, such areas being rare and precious in the in the middle of town.

Our baroque fetes, weekly warning watch meetings, merry marches or picnics held on the grounds of that jewel of a garden the “Augartenspitz” attracted a great number of people. We were greatly acclaimed both by visitors from all parts of Vienna and its surroundings and also by many tourists from all over the world. Some 10 thousand have signed protesting against building plans on the “Augartenspitz”.

Furthermore we have continued this last summer with our merry-making and were able to celebrate (some fotos can be seen here) our first interim success: the small baroque staff building, which had originally served as housing for the keeper of the north-eastern gate, must be preserved! This was decreed by the “Bundesdenkmalamt” (Federal Authority for National Heritage) as a result of an extended struggle to avoid the building from being demolished.

Now new revised designs for the concert hall plans envisage erecting it directly behind the protected baroque building which would be incorporated. This, of course entails the same brutal destruction of the public gardens as before. A reason for us to continue our struggle for keeping the Augarten green and free of additional buildings to be used according to the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the citizens of Vienna.

Vienna, 29 October 2008

Speech by Schwahn-Reichmann in March 2008

If you linger anywhere in the imperial park “Augarten“, think of the Austrian poet Theodor Kramer who said „the important thing is poetry“. Amongst other things I am „Councillor for Brothels and Paradise” in the artistic virtual city „AugartenStadt” and therefore concerned with everything beautiful. I wish to clearly indicate the poetic properties of a place such as the Augartenspitz.

Taking all the problems and possibilities of the Augarten into consideration, this is for me the most important place: it is at present poised on the razor’s edge and if we take too long in just thinking about it, the imperial park will no longer exist. The Augartenspitz is full of secrets like an aorta and a lane of sight into the imperial park.  The Augartenspitz is the quintessence of the spirit of a park which – being walled-in – is a mysterious place.  The very word „paradise” means literally „a walled-in place” a place of mysteries. This frame of a wall is precious, can be called the golden setting for the green jewel behind it. Each breach cut into it is an annoyance to the enjoyment as envisaged by Emperor Joseph II who dedicated the park to all people, holding them in high esteem. We shall, perhaps, in future express this enjoyment by holding baroque parties and festivities.

When I just imagine the horrible architecture on which no group had made any decision, only the son-in-law of a rich sponsor and an ex-member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir… I find that this is a symptom. At the moment there are several places and cases in which sponsors only need to wave with a packet of money and all the laws start waving in tune with them. There is the Albertina (graphics museum) being adapted for „business”, there are the baroque gardens of Mirabelle in Salzburg where the museum for baroque art was thrown out in favour of a private company offering „Sound of Music” entertainment.

And, therefore, the situation here is fraught with danger. We wish to preserve the quiet and peace of such a place. It is not for nothing that the beautiful and mysterious Augartenspitz has been a protected place ever since any laws on the protection of national heritage exist in Austria. I am angry that, being a citizen and paying taxes – also for the work of such authorities – I have to do all their work on my own. We must protect the place ourselves! We shall occupy it and defend it by holding baroque feasts and festivals. Just in order to keep hold on this lovely garden.

Advertisements