The house at SPORGASSE 16 in GRAZ has been offering studios, guest studios, accommodation, offices and presentation rooms to artists, researchers, journalists and musicians for more than twenty years.
The names reflect the dynamic make-up of the project: Atelier Facchinelli; Atelier M; Atelier Reichl+Baur; Büro für Anonyme Arbeiten im Öffentlichen Raum: Baur+Tertinegg; Initiative Atelierrundgang Graz: Baur-Rahs-Haubenhofer; SKI Kulturinitiative-Büro: Baur-Klammer; Textilatelier Silvia Magerl; Metallatelier Gerry Ozimic; Atelier Baur+Baur; Atelier Paternusch; Büro Willi Hengstler; Lametta Film Production; Literaturraum Schwarzenberg; Studio O.Klammer; and many more.
WERKSTADT GRAZ is an expedition group with bases, an office, guest artist accommodation, guest studios, an archive laboratory, a presentation room and a gallery – between boutiques, perfurmeries, beauty salons, cake-shops, beggars, computer shops and a knife sharpener’s shop in the middle of the historic old town of Graz.
The great diversity of the projects carried out is seen as confirmation of the openness of WERKSTADT GRAZ towards social change and can be regarded as constructive co-operation on drafting a new concept of culture. But the many years of work also testify to the firm persistence that seems to be required in order to solve problems in the difficult realm of culture.
An important quality factor of WERKSTADT GRAZ is the international nature of the projects. The guest programme alone, for example, involved publication and support of extraordinary artistic and scientific achievements in co-operation with more than twenty-five national and international institutes and initiatives from a wide range of fields.
WERKSTADT GRAZ is one of those innovative institutions that have embraced the “new” functional conception of art. It is aware of the risks of making art autonomous and does not do so in the sense of going against society but rather in the sense of becoming independent in society. It does not try to lobby with the aim of making profit or to “collaborate” with certain social structures but rather to work together with them and to develop joint projects and models of cultural policy.
(from: Almanac 98, Vanesa Cvahte)
In its long history, WERKSTADT GRAZ has succeeded in involving such artists as Timm Ulrichs, Gottfried Bechthold, Peter Weibel, Pipilotti Rist, Gerfried Stocker, Oksana Zabuzhko, Damijan Kracina, Ingeborg Strobl, Rainer Ganahl, Bazon Brock, Franz West and many, many others in specific local issues, in evoking and creating a communication situation and adding a new (critical) angle on the local problem.
One of the pioneers of media art, Richard Kriesche, wrote: “Both with regard to the ‘local scene’ and the overall cultural profile of the city, WERKSTADT GRAZ shows a track record that has yet to be adequately acknowledged in terms of its cultural importance and that has been officially underestimated, and thus badly underfunded. If we can talk about an open art scene in Graz at all, then it exists in the form of the finely woven fabric of WERKSTADT GRAZ”.
Or, in the words of one critic: “werkstadt graz is one of the most interesting art institutes to come into being in styria, austria, over the past few years. Artists and scientists work together here in an interdisciplinary manner, contributing notable creative initiatives to the cultural image of the province”.
WERKSTADT GRAZ expanded its premises into SPORGASSE 20 in 2005, when GRAZ KUNST* was founded. This building houses the gallery, the artist’s office, and the artist’s studio of WERKSTADT GRAZ in the rooms of the former fashion accessories shop BEL VEDERE (Ital. “beautiful view”). It also accommodates the archive and office of WERKSTADT GRAZ on two floors and the Werk–STADT–PARK–GRAZ designed by artists in the rear courtyard.
“GRAZ KUNST” showcases artistic achievements of national and international artists in a range of different analog and digital media: e.g. painting, drawing, photography, music, concept and video. Since its foundation, WERKSTADT GRAZ has been engaged in the “contemporary jewellery art” research series, that led to the opening of http://www.schmuckmuseum.at/ on 15 November 1999.
*(“GRAZ KUNST” is a term coined by Werner SCHWAB, that was first used in “Volksvernichtung - oder meine Leber ist sinnlos”: “ ... So, Grazkunst… that kind of art that comes about when artistic people pull their feelings together in this sensitive city… i.e., when an art genre ventures a unique beginning based on the sensitive Graz-person. It’s like when the master of the house says that he wants to bring in a colour picture for the children’s room of the children of Graz…”)
In addition to that, GALERIE GRAZY, a gallery under the patronage of FRANZ WEST, was founded in 2007. The gallery is based in the rear courtyard of Sporgasse 16. The rooms have been available for projects and exhibitions since its foundation.
WERKSTADT GRAZ / PRIZES & DISTINCTIONS:
WERKSTADT GRAZ artists have received numerous prizes and the following distinctions: (selection)
Hanns-Koren-Kulturpreis des Landes Steiermark, 1998
Kunstpreis des Landes Steiermark für zeitgenössische Kunst, 2001