25. May 2009


Art on the Rooftops of Linz

A Project for LINZ 2009 European Capital of Culture


Exhibition: 29 May to 31 October 2009
Curators: Paolo Bianchi & Martin Sturm

Exhibition Architecture: Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo (in collaboration with Riepl Riepl Architects, Linz)


The art exhibition OK | HÖHENRAUSCH (Thrill of the Heights) entices visitors up to and over the roofs of Linz. It shows art between the sky and the city, offering an opportunity for a unique experience of Linz. For 150 days it is possible to experience OK | HÖHENRAUSCH, then the heavens above Linz will be closed again.

The Project

In a joint effort by OK, Linz09, the City of Linz, the Federal Province of Upper Austria, and the business partner, Raiffeisen Landesbank OÖ, an art project has been created, such as the city has never seen before: an exhibition trail, starting at the OK Square, leads from OK over the parking garage City Parkhaus to the roof of the Passage City Center, back to the OK, over a new bridge through the previously unknown rooftop landscape of the Ursulinenhof. After a tour of about 1.5 km over stairs, walkways, bridges, lookout points, flat roofs and attics, visitors find themselves on the street in Landstrasse.

The Partners

Building Authorities
Extensive construction work is necessary to implement this project: structural analysis certification, construction tenders and permit procedures presented the OK with challenges, which were dealt with together with the authorities of the city of Linz.

A bridge connects the OK with the Ursulinenhof, thus making accessible the new art collection of the Federal Province of Upper Austria. The connection will remain open even after Höhenrausch/Thrill of the Heights, thus ensuring that the project will have a lasting impact.

Business Partners
Raiffeisen Landesbank OÖ is actively engaged not only as one of the main partners of Linz09, but also in constructive co-operation with the partner agencies Real Treuhand and the Passage City Center. This has made it possible to realize a project that has and will have an impact far beyond Linz.

Architects and Execution
The idea of routing a path between OK, the roof of Passage and the Ursulinenhof was developed by the OK together with Riepl Riepl Architects. The Riepl office is also the Upper Austrian "sparring partner" for the Japanese team of architects and was entrusted with the planning and local construction supervision. The wooden bridge was built by the Mühlviertel company Gebrüder Resch.

The Tour

Those who undertake this ascent are transformed into the figure of the rooftop wanderer, exploring Linz from an unfamiliar perspective across seven stations: 1) Stairway to Heaven, 2) Luna Park, 3) Roof Bridge, 4) Linz09 Lounge, 5) Art Lab (working title), 6) Herbal Garden, 7) A-Loft.
The landscape of the course leads over bridges and stairs – from house to house, from roof to roof. The path changes with the constant up and down. Spaces are alternately crossed on the inside and on the outside. Visitors leave the surface of the familiar. In the end they land on the ground of reality, in the streets of Linz.

1. Stairway to Heaven

The seemingly endless stairway to heaven starts in the OK. To climb it, you have to start far below. The path to the peak of art, to the “thrill of the heights” leads upwards step by step. And to arrive at the top, you have to want to “climb higher”.
Most religions imagine the path to paradise as an upward climb. Many of them depict this climb with the help of a ladder. The profane ladder becomes a medium for imagining the unimaginable. In symbolic perception, the endless stretch is compressed into a small climbing expedition.
The stairway to heaven made here of wood links several buildings together on the roof through steps and passageways. Several branches of the path appear to be an overhang of the building. What starts as a stairway to heaven evolves like the roots of a tree proliferating horizontally across the roofs. (Atelier Bow-Wow).

Georg LindORFER AT
Flieeeeeg, 2009
In Lindorfer’s scenarios visitors can put their heads through a hole in a painted billboard and have their fairy market picture taken. The people portrayed slip into the role of a gigantic figure of a child with a balloon that floats away of the OK Square in an animation on the back side of the board.

Leonid Tishkov RU
Private Moon, 2009
The moon is revered in many cultures as a goddess. With the crescent moon that has fallen from the sky, Tishkov commences a visual poem about the feminine. In Linz the moon has found a temporary home in the chapel and can be borrowed. Wherever this heavenly body appears in Linz as a guest, it overcomes the loneliness of city people. And gathers a crowd of viewers.

Atelier Bow-Wow JP
in cooperation with Riepl Riepl Architekten
Linz Super Branch, 2009
The stairway to heaven by Atelier Bow-Wow serves as a bridge into a different land. Stepping onto it, you leave everything else behind: the daily rat-race, job stress and anxiety. It is the ideal aid to ascend to the levels of the Luna Park, leading to where the sky is "filled with violins".

2. Luna Park

Arriving on the roof, the visitors find themselves in a Luna Park – a place of sensations, a world of sensual experience.

Pierre Bismuth Fr/BE
Respect the Dead, 2001–2009
Bismuth shows the first few minutes from films like "Dirty Harry", "Vertigo" or "Highlander". As soon as an actor dies in one of these films, the film ends abruptly and the credits follow. The radical cut turns initially irrelevant figures into main characters, calling for respect for their sudden death. For Hoehenrausch above the roofs of Linz, Bismuth has chosen a series of films in which the action takes place specifically on roofs, balconies or parking garages.

Ricardo Jacinto PT
Labyrinthis, 2007–2009
Jacinto's bunch of balloons reduces body weight by 35 kg and results in limiting balance. This work deals with the sense of balance in the inner ear, the irritation of which induces the illness "labyrinthitis", but which also triggers the kick of the spinal column machines found in theme parks.

Shaun Gladwell AU
Voyage/Descent, 2009
Gladwell filmed Og D’Souza, riding his skateboard without the use of his legs in a building designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the São Paulo Biennale. The work shows Og defying gravity as he skatebaords upside down within the spatious building. Gladwell also documents a skateboard ride in a parkingtower .in the small town of New Plymouth, New Zealand. Due to the fact that the parking tower is near the ocean and a volcano called ‘Taranaki’, Gladwell has described it as the most beautiful parking garage in the world.

Brigitte Felderer AT
Höhenflüge, 2009
Felderer's picture track assembles posters, headlines, film images and art from the 18th century up to 2000. It is not the aristocrats floating away into the sky, but clever citizens, audacious women, ingenious illusionists, courageous artists and romantic outsiders. And those who don't fly along, crash.

Maider López ES
High Wheel, 2009
A ride on the 26-meter high ferris wheel allows a view of the city from a dizzying height. The new coat of paint applied by López makes the landmark of the Capital of Culture vanish on a monitor. Due to digital editing the monumental red construction vanishes in a video, and all that remains are the revolving green gondolas that seem to float above the city as though moved by a magical hand.

Andreas Strauss AT
90° Kiosk, 2007/2009
Strauss' upside-down construction vehicle is one of his typical multi-function tools, which he removes from the original context and re-dedicates with functional architectonic interventions. It serves as a weather station, kiosk and hot spot at the same time. The offers vary depending on the weather: umbrellas if it is raining, sealed drink packages, like on airplanes, if it is hot, and soap bubbles if it is windy.
A collaboration with Time’s Up and FunkFeuer.

Roman Signer CH
Raketenbahn, 2009
Once a day Signer shoots visitors' messages of greetings right across with OK Square with a rocket launcher. This event, which lasts only a few moments, is amusing and makes us grin at this explosive manner of communication that lags behind mostly digital communication today.

3. Dach Steg

The path leads across an over 2000 m2 large roof garden with peculiar vegetation. Walking across the roof bridge provides the greatest overview with a view of the distance and a panorama. One discovers the urban silhouette of Linz: unknown buildings, large columns of steam, 30 Linz peaks and the flame from a blast furnace. To allow ample scope for seeing and hearing, there are vantage points in all directions, specifically devoted to hearing the city and seeing the city.

Atelier Bow-Wow JP
LLinz super BraNch, 2009
Atelier Bow-Wow calls its large sculpture "Linz Super Branch". The branch idea applies to the modular construction, but is also meant literally. What starts as a stairway to heaven now proliferates horizontally across the roof like the roots and boughs of a tree – with branches above the abyss.

Werner Pfeffer AT
Stadtmensch, 2009
Pfeffer sets up vantage points and panorama boards and tells of city people, like the organist, the Linzer Torte baker, or skaters. In a southward direction he points toward Trieste and the voestalpine blast furnace workers. At the "audio points" we hear the sounds of trams and church bells.

Shih-Yung Ku Taiwan
Bubble Man, 2006
A life-sized figure is stuck to a helium balloon with a diameter of 4 meters, floating and bobbing high above, depending on how the wind blows. Ku's balloon man recalls that among all the great inventions of humankind – from the wheel to the printing press and the sailing ship to the computer – there is hardly another that changed the world as much as the conquest of the sky and the yearning for a thrill of the heights. For safety reasons (for him and for us), the "Bubble Man" is pulled in every evening and raised again every morning. In this way, he is not only a sign of yearning, but also a practical signal: whenever he is visible above the city, Höhenrausch/Thrill of the Heights is open and accessible.

Paul DeMarinis US
Rain Dance, 1998–2009
DeMarini's uses water to make familiar musical melodies audible as a composition of drops and sound vibrations. The open umbrella becomes a resonance body for sound worlds made of fine streams of water – even if the sun is shining.

4. Linz09 Lounge

The bridge leads out onto the open deck of the OK. The Linz09 Lounge offers relaxation and refreshment. Visitors can send off their “thrill of the heights” greetings on a rocket track.

5. OK Labor

Artists investigate the "phenomenon of the thrill of the heights". Above or below, overcoming gravity, flying, falling and climbing. Studies, trials, investigations and experiments. The "Art Lab" builds a bridge to our neighbors. It links the OK with the Ursulinenhof and takes a look at the new art collection.

Martin Music AT
Music in the Sky, 2005/2009
Hanging on 5000 helium filled balloons, Music's ascent to the roof during the opening was a real thrill of the heights. The artist literally grants people's wish to float away: fleetingly fleeing, melancholy, clown-like – and yet a risk is involved too. A video documents the spectacular flight, the balloons remain as a flying machine and relict in the exhibition.

IngeR Lise Hansen NO
Parallax, 2009
Hansen shot her film in February 2009 above the roofs of Linz with an "inverse" perspective. The super-16mm camera placed upside down was moved centimeter for centimeter from shot to shot. This "stop-motion" technique imbues weather, light and shadow with an unimagined presence.

Erwin Wurm AT
Tell, 2007/2008
Wurm’s video shows a couple driving through the center of Vienna while philosophizing about reality and physics. The longer the drive lasts, the more physical forces change. At the end the car suddenly drives up the wall of a building vertically. The couple gets out.

Roman Signer CH
Filme, 1981 - 2006
With his videos and films Signer carries out a balancing act between absurdity and melancholy. He always starts from sculptural experimental arrangements and documents each phase of these temporal sculptures or "occurrences". In this way he investigates elementary forces and includes time as the fourth dimension and formational element. Occurrences of explosives and loud noises stimulate the senses. When a bucket with a video camera crashes in the street from the 20th floor of a building, then the fall into the void draws the gaze with it. We are there when the bucket falls.

Leonid Tishkov RU
Sky Roof Experiences, 1999 - 2009
Tishkov's studio is located on the top floor of a 24-story building in Moscow. He uses the roof as a natural setting for his investigations and for his "conversation with the sky". In the winter he climbs up to go skiing, or he uses the creative potential of the wind at this intersection between earth and sky.

Shih-Yung Ku Taiwan
Lightness, the way to let you lighter, 2000
In Ku's video a man blows up a balloon so big that he vanishes into space hanging on it. Yet suddenly the dream of flying bursts. And he crashes with an explosion to the ground. The kaleidoscopic presentation shows flying up to the sky and crashing as an explosion of color.

Fiona Tan Indonesien/NL
Tilt, 2003
Lift, 2000

In Tan's photo a person hanging on a bunch of red balloons floats gently over leafless trees. In the video "Tilt" a small child has also lost its grounding, floating, sinking and rising in a parachute belt. And in this physics experiment, it is carried laughing to the ceiling.


6. Herbal Garden

Seeing, smelling, feeling and tasting a garden of medicinal herbs on the roof of the former Ursuline convent opens up the senses and simultaneously creates a natural connection between heaven and earth. The plants cultivated here have been used since the dawn of time for healing purposes. Taiwanese artist Mali Wu has set up the garden with help from the Austrian Mountain Herb Cooperative from the Mühlviertel (Hirschbach).

Mali Wu Taiwan
Paradiesgarten, 2009
Seeing, smelling, feeling and tasting a garden of medicinal herbs on the roof of the former Ursuline convent opens up the senses. And at the same time, it creates a natural connection between heaven and earth, but also a historical link between U-Hof and OK through a convent garden of the shared grounds. For Wu, gardening becomes a meditation along the paths of a living apothecary.

Wu’s row of notes provides information on "secret" knowledge about the medicinal effect of plants. Herbal recipes from diverse fields of knowledge (literature, cultural history, pharmacy, traditional Chinese Medicine TCM, and knowledge handed down) are free to be taken!

7. A-Loft

The attic loft of the Ursulinenhof from the 17th century appears in new magnificence.
The descent over the back stairs, back into everyday urban life, lets the visitors see the city with new eyes even at street level.

Serge Spitzer US
Untitled (LINZ), 2008–2009

Pipilotti Rist CH
Open My Glade (Flatten), 2000
In the film a human figure (played by Rist) presses her head, lips and hands against a window pane. It is unclear whether nearness or captivity is shown. The manic rubbing at the window of the old Ursuline Convent is like a final heavenly greeting before descending to earth. The sky is behind us and we are back in reality again.

The Publication

Edited by Paolo Bianchi & Martin Sturm for the OK "Offenes Kulturhaus" Upper Austria, the catalogue is a "visual reader". It depicts the Höhenrausch/Thrill of the Heights course and assembles material on the artists and on the phenomenon of the thrill of the heights itself. The release date is August 2009. Publisher: Folio Verlag, Vienna/Bozen. Book design: Stephan Fiedler, Berlin.

Die Kuratoren

Paulo Bianchi, born 1960, is a freelance exhibition-maker and guest editor of the magazine "Kunstforum International". He lives in Baden by Zurich
Martin Sturm, born 1957, is director of the OK "Offenes Kulturhaus" Upper Austria.

Künstlerinnen und Künstler

Atelier Bow-Wow (JPN)
Pierre Bismuth (FR/BE)
Paul DeMarinis (USA)
Inger Lise Hansen (NOR)
Ricardo Jacinto (POR)
Shih-Yung Ku (Taiwan)
Georg Lindorfer (AUT)
Fiona Tan (NED)
Mali Wu (Taiwan)
Maider López (ESP)
Martin Music (AUT)
Werner Pfeffer (AUT)
Pipilotti Rist (SUI)
Roman Signer (SUI)
Andreas Strauss (AUT)
Serge Spitzer (USA)
Leonid Tishkov (RUS)
Erwin Wurm (AUT)


Opening hours: daily 11.a.m. – 10 p.m. closed Thuesdays

Tickets, Tours
+43.732.78 41 78-555,

Admission fee: 10,-- / reduced 7,-- Euro,
guided tours (15 persons): 120,--

Project Partners

OK Offenes Kulturhaus OÖ
Director: Martin Sturm

Linz 2009 – Kulturhauptstadt Europas Organisations-GmbH
Director: Martin Heller

Press information:

OK: Maria Falkinger, Dametzstr. 30, 4020 Linz, T 0732.784178-203;
Maria Falkinger

Linz 2009: Pia Leydolt, Gruberstraße 2, 4020 Linz, Tel: +43.732.2009-37,