Text: Christiane Erharter
Fotos: Johannes Stoll / Belvedere, Wien
The starting point for Heti Prack’s new series titled „Freundschaft“ is the imagined love story of two young craftsmen set in 1930s Vienna. Josef Ofner works as a stonemason, while Anton Brandstätter is a blacksmith. The two meet and fall in love on the construction site of the Hueber-Hof, a communal housing complex built in 1930/31 and named after the social democratic politician and unionist Anton Hueber. Prack executed the portrait titled „Josef,“ depicting the young stonemason with curls and a flower in his left hand, in sepia-toned imitation marble. The forms of the sculpture „Hueber-Training,“ a hybrid of a training device and a public art object, are inspired by the forged entrance gate of the housing complex. For Josef, this first same-sex love relationship also marks the discovery of his queer desires.
The title of the sculpture references the iterability of gender and sexuality: Performativity entails the constant and perpetual reconstitution, as Prack interprets it as a form of „practice“ or „training.“ The time in which the love story is set was full of promises, breakthroughs, and reforms; alongside a confident labor movement, the life trajectories of queer individuals became more visible. In cities like Vienna or Berlin, the first openly homosexual subcultures emerged, using terms like (ideal) friendship to name and communicate homosexual individuals and love. The title of the series also alludes to the magazine „Die Freundschaft“ (also known as „Freundschaft“), which was published in Germany from 1919 to 1933 and was an important organ of the homosexual movement during the Weimar Republic.
At the same time, the era saw the implementation of numerous projects by the social housing policies of Red Vienna, including the Hueber-Hof on Quellenstraße in Favoriten. Heti Prack links the struggle of workers for better working and living conditions with the fight of queer people against discrimination. A century ago, same-sex acts were punishable under the crime of „Unzucht“ (indecent acts), and homosexuals were subject to legal prosecution, primarily affecting men from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. While the love story may be fictional, the ongoing struggle of queer individuals for equal rights and recognition remains real and relevant.
plaster, pigments, boneglue
stucco marble (plaster, pigments, boneglue), fiberglass, iron, construction panels, papier-mâché