Sunday, July 18, 2010

Europe 2010 - Vienna - Day 11 of 12

Today was pretty much a "greatest hits" version of yesterday, partially because I was getting a little exhausted by more than a week's worth of novelty and partially because I wanted to dive more deeply into some elements of Vienna that intrigued me the most. For that reason I returned to Cafe Central yet again, once more ordering breakfast and staying long enough to sip a cup or two of melange. Then I dedicated much of the day to finding more street art.

Donaukanal mural
I have yet to fully think through my thoughts about this urban phenomenon. As a rule, I despise the notion that one person can lay claim to the property of another, whether through theft or defacement. Yet I relax my standards somewhat when viewing the imposition of creativity upon an otherwise ugly, deteriorating façade. This is hardly a coherent philosophy, I know. Happily, the city of Vienna has embraced street art in a number of locations, allowing its practitioners an open canvas to share their works. I've written some blog posts about what I found [you might as well start with this one].

Austria's version of "Freedom from Fear"
Exiting the Donaukanal, where I found some of my favorite murals, I also noticed an oddly contradictory poster for the Polizei. It centered on two cops in riot gear, the armored pair filling most of the frame. In the background, a nondescript crowd of protestors hoisted flaming objects, perhaps Molotov cocktails. The slogan: "Freiheit," the German word for "freedom" and "liberty." Not knowing the language, and hardly possessing insight into Austrian notions of irony, if any, I couldn't help but chuckle at the juxtaposition of ideas conveyed by that poster. Thinking back to the street art mounted nearby, I reflected on how these two notions of Viennese life, of discipline and resistance, talk to each other as competing visions.

"Secure Beneath the Watchful Eyes"
Evening brought me back to the Gasometer Complex in a halfhearted attempt to seek entrance into the domed living spaces rising from the mall's central axis. I knew that residents, understandably guarding their privacy, would have their own elevators or other pathways to the interior. I thought briefly about trying to follow someone away from the mall, perhaps even striking up a conversation about my interest in this unique type of domestic architecture. But I recognized that my lack of language skills and the creepiness of my request (essentially, "Let me follow you up to your apartment") would be hard to accept. I settled for an hour of random wandering in and around the structures, snapping pictures and planning for a return next year after seeking authorization in advance.

Back to the Gasometer
Exhausted after all my walking, and all my days of largely sleepless activity, I returned to my room and enjoyed an early night's rest.

Day 10 | Day 12

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