Austria at the World Expo 2008
PURA AUSTRIA was the name of the pavilion for the World Expo in Zaragoza. Conceived as an artistic and architectural project, it aimed to reflect on the theme ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ and further on what it meant to curate an Expo pavilion on the 21st century. Site specific interventions by Tomas Eller, Liquid Loft, Walter Niedermayr, Lucy and Jorge Orta and Erwin Redl interfered with the overwhelming Expo environment, renegotiating our collective understanding of water as an ever more scarce resource, and encouraging more than half a million visitors to become interactively involved.
The Austrian Pavilion was designed by the young Austrian team ARGE Strauss-Solid-Ritter. The exterior featured the harmonious interplay of art and architecture, with images by artist Walter Niedermayr. The series of six photographs run across the entire length of the façade showing an ice and snow landscape taken from the Pitztal Glacier. The use of moveable slats enabled to display a change of scenery from winter to summer, thus permitting the landscape covered with snow to morph into lush and green pastures.
The artist duo Lucy + Jorge Orta created a special sculpture using hundred of bottles, water tanks, hoses and pipe fittings as a tangible expression on issues related to water. Entitled OrtaWater Zille Fluvial Unit, the work playfully conveyed the need for more active involvement in regard to the world’s water problems, and for the development of sustainable solutions to combat them. The work united the traditional Zille canoe found in Austria’s mountain lakes and rivers with an organic steel construction. On certain days, the tanks connected to the sculpture were filled with Austrian water to provide refreshment for visitors.
Inside the pavilion, visitors encountered the dance company Liquid Loft. Under the guidance of choreographer Chris Haring, the renowned artist collective created a video projection entitled Winter Sun featuring specially developed light and sound elements. Central to the performance was a large ‘walk-in snowball’. Inside, the artists interacted with the visitors. Outside the snowball, the large projections permitted the viewers to become integrated into the abstract scenery of a glacier meadow, a sunflower field or a mountain lake. The following selected Austrian fashion designers complemented the concept of PURA AUSTRIA at the EXPO 2008 by creating staff clothing for the guides inside the pavilion: Schella Lann, Wolford, Swarovski, Mühlbauer, Horn plus the young collective House of the Very Island’s.
The Pavilion Lounge featured creations by renowned Austrian furniture makers such as Bene, Copa, Neue Wiener Werkstätte, Svoboda and Wittmann. A light and sound installation by Erwin Redl challenged conventional perceptions of time and space while creating a relaxed atmosphere.
More than 870.000 visitors experienced PURA AUSTRIA during the three months that the pavilion was open. All major national and international media, plus trade publications focusing on tourism and business covered the Austrian Pavilion and its events. Austria´s Expo presence was directed by Robert Punkenhofer on behalf of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour and the Federal Economic Chamber.
Photos © Rainer Fehringer