Ode to the Odds # 6:
The many faces of public art

Hey art lovers and those of the curious kind! This post is for you! Have you ever found yourself walking down a Viennese street, stumbling upon a stunning contraption of sorts, wondering what the heck it is? Well, I can say with ninety-eight percent certainty that it was probably an art installation. The other guess would be accidental art – like an inevitable dog gackerl* (Viennese slang for dog excrement) in the perfect shape of the poop emoji.

That’s right, Vienna is so full of art that it literally hits you in the face when you are walking down the street minding your own business. Well, perhaps not literally, but figuratively enough to make it count.

With the help of KÖR (Kunst im öffentlichem Raum) and their handy Public Art Vienna guide, we have compiled 10 of the most curious art installations in this amazing city’s public spaces for you to ponder on.


Let’s begin:


1. Stylit – By Michael Kenzer

If you walked up to this piece of art, you might think someone spiked your coffee, as it gives off a very ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vibe. The artist wanted to interpret open space as an archive of objects and implemented the idea of a long rod with a water pump at the tall end of it.

©Ewald Judt 1010 Vienna, corner Stubenring/ Weiskirchnerstraße. U3, Tram 2 Stubentor.


2. Abtauchen/ auftauchen by Julie Hayward

This piece is meant to give us the feeling of diving under water and swimming through to the other side of the passage. The way leads people to and from the Danube and serves as a guide, or perhaps even a magnet, to the water.

©KÖR– 1030 Vienna – Angelo-Soliman-Weg, Connects Löwengasse and Treppelweg (Danube Canal) Tram 1, 0 Radetzkyplatz.


3. Pi by Ken Lum

This installation shows the most recently calculated pi figures, and projects them here for everyone’s information. How else could we get through the day?

©Joerg Auzinger 1010 Vienna, subway station Karlsplatz, western passageway, exit Secession. U1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz.


4. Monument for a Female Nobelpreis Winner by Helmut and Johanna Kandl

This was created after the artist duo had collected stories and anecdotes for years from people in the Volkertplatz neighborhood. The duo condensed the stories into a fictitious woman’s biography who will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2045. This Monument to a Female Nobel Prize Winner is dedicated to her.

©Jörg Auzinger 1020 Vienna, Volkertplatz. Tram 2 Taborstraße/ Heinestraße; bus 80A Volkertplatz.

5. Library of the Nameless by Rachel Whiteread

Also known as The Memorial for the Austrian Jewish Victims of the Shoah is located on Judenplatz. This is already a well-known piece of art, but not many know the purpose of it, making it as chilling as it is fascinating. The Library of the Nameless was created as a reminder of the 65,000 Jews who were murdered during the Nazi regime and dissapeared without a trace. The books that make up the outer walls of the library are turned outward concealing the title of the book. In this case the inward turned books are a representation of the nameless victims who were killed and whose identities and stories have  been lost to the genocide forever.

©Chad K 1010 Vienna, Judenplatz. U3 Herrengasse.


6. Tell these people who I am by Iris Andraschek

This installation is all about women’s rights activism and putting a spotlight on prominent feminist activists. It is a three part series highlighting three different women’s names and short biographies about their achievements in the form of carpets on concrete.

©Mischa Erben 1070 Vienna, Lerchenfelder Straße 131 (Augustinplatz und Stiftgasse) U6, Trams 5, 46 Thaliastraße.


7. SOUNDTRACK_passage by Esther Stocker

One of five passages in MuseumsQuartier that are dedicated to a certain theme, it is located between courtyard 7 and 8 at MQ. Some passages have small benches so you can sit and listen to the various sounds. Our advice is to sit there for a while, people watch, and try to guess the theme for each one, then let us know how you did.

©Eva Ellersdorfer Meissnerova 1070 Vienna, Museumsplatz 1. U2, U3 Volkstheater/ exit Burggasse; U2 Museumsquartier.

8. Cube EXPORT – The transparent room by Valie Export

A transparent glass cube that was installed underneath one of the elevated subway arches at Lerchenfelder Gürtel, it was designed for open space, communication, creativity, and contemplation. It serves as a venue for presentations by artists.

©atelier coeln wien 1080 Vienna, Lerchenfelder Gürtel, Gürtelbogen 48. U6, Tram 2 Josefstädter Straße.

9. U-bahn Station Karlsplatz by Peter Kogler

This Installation is perhaps the most curious out of the bunch. The artist wanted to interpret a kind of connection and symbiosis between reality and virtual reality. It portrays a network of digital wires or tube forms existing and intertwining with reality.

©Iris Ranzinger 1040 Vienna, subway station Karlsplatz U1/U2 – intermediate level. U1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz.

10. Untitled (Project “Garden with a well”) by Ines Lombardi

This work relates to the district’s history and topographical context. It is an overgrown garden with a bronze well located within its center.

©wikimedia 1090 Vienna, Zimmermannplatz. U6, tram 43 Alser Straße.


This list is just the tip of the iceberg. We hope to have piqued your interest for the somewhat invisible art that surrounds you in this beautiful and bizarre city. We strongly encourage you to explore as much of it as you can. It is a mind-altering experience.

header image: pixabay

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About Anita Matkovic

Anita has a degree in Transcultural Communication from the University of Vienna. She spends her time translating, teaching English, and proofreading. She is a language enthusiast with a chronic case of wanderlust.

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