Who exactly are the “StadtmacherInnen”? In this interview with Bernhard Teferle, this and many other questions are answered.
Claudia Kronlechner: So Bernhard, in a few short sentences can you talk about what and who the Stadmacher are?
Bernhard Teferle: We are actually called the StadtmacherInnen, although our logo still says “Stadtmacher”. Well, the origins of the Stadtmacher go back to Wolfsberg council’s moderated process to make Wolfsbergs city center more attractive. At that time there was also a working group titled “Youth and Culture” in which I also took part. Out of this process only relatively few concrete projects emerged, “Lila” by Dorian Melcher, the “Bunte Küche” and my project draft for the “Metamorphosen”, using high-performance beamers to project artwork on house facades. However, the project was not financially possible. Nevertheless, the organisers of this moderated process asked me to present it at the closing event, which actually annoyed me. There was no funding, but they wanted me to go on stage there and present “Metamorphosen”. I did do that, but in the back of my mind I thought “if they don’t do it, we’ll do it ourselves”. I have always been interested in public spaces, because I actually think that art and culture belong in public spaces and don’t necessarily have to take place somewhere in selected, enclosed spaces. As a result, initially I and soon afterwards a group of motivated Wolfsbergers decided to fill empty shops, public spaces and streets with art and culture. City Marketing Wolfsberg approved funding for this. Now we have been revitalizing the city center for four years with exhibitions, readings, concerts and workshops. Twice, for example, there was a graffiti workshop and, under the direction of Natalie Bischof, people who liked to dance met at Minoritenplatz, under the motto “Flash Mob”. Gabi Egger also directed art and dance events.
CK: Then there were also the “Artists in Residence”. Karin Rupacher, Simeon Kovacev and Walter Teschl come to mind.
BT: Yes, exactly. Well, I think a lot has happened. In the last 3-4 years there have been well over 200 events and as it happened the former fashion house “Hornoff” has effectively become our headquarters. We installed the StadtmacherInnen gallery on the ground floor and the club room in the basement.
CK: When you think back over the last few years in relation to the “StadtmacherInnen”, what stands out for you?
BT: Well, that the concept actually took off completely, because there was also a parallel effect. Before the beginning of the “StadtmacherInnen” and also this moderated process, there were an unbelievable number of vacancies in the Wolfsberg city center. Now, as far as I know, there is not a single vacancy on the “Hoher Platz”, even if it has to be taken into account that some locations are utilized with public funding, i.e. a la “Stadtwerkstatt” or perhaps the MGV (men’s choir). These are not exactly economically oriented ventures.
CK: It has done a lot for the cityscape, though.
BT: Yes, it has done a lot for the cityscape. Even in the “Johann Offner Strasse”, not as much is empty as a few years ago. It is also important to me to say that the vacant shops we originally used were then rented out permanently. Like the hairdresser in Johann Offner Strasse, “Frisur Pur”, where we once did an installation with Manuel Tschas and Tischlerei Penz. We also held readings and concerts at todays “Scharfen Eck”, which later became the “Chili Fraunz” shop. The streetware boutique “Fesch und Frech” also opened in the former flea market shop and art discounter of the “StadtmacherInnen”. A lot has happened on the “Hoher Platz”, I think, since a lot of the shops in the north were empty. Today, every shop around the Krasser hat shop is rented out.
CK: Are you often approached about the “StadtmacherInnen”?
BT: In the meantime, yes of course. I am “Mr. Stadtmacher” they believe, because I am the one who appears most in public, but there is a pretty dedicated team.
CK: Who are the people who help out the most?
BT: Well, especially Andrea Jandl, you, Claudia Kronlechner, Simeon Kovacev, who helps me again and again, and Karin Rupacher who curates the exhibitions. That is a huge help.
CK: And she also managed the art discounter very well.
BT: Yes, she did a great job at the art discounter and there was a really big team at the “Stadtball”, which has taken place twice. There were many who were extremely helpful.
CK: With the support of “Haus der Region” and the Cafino team.
BT: Yes, “Haus der Region”, they also had a bar and there are also other people like Brigitte Mayr who made the decorations with Karin Rupacher, the people from Container 25, who, and this is not to be taken for granted, managed the great discos, as well as many young people who sold tickets for the raffle and supported our team. So there were a lot of people involved, like Michael and Gerda Hatzenbichler, Myriam Robveille, etc.
CK: Some people from the “Anteaters” too, right?
CK: So the balls were highlights. What else?
BT: Well, the open-air events were outstanding. We held those three times, where there were four bands on two days each, so eight in total. Then of course the city ball twice and the art discounter, which has already been held three times. This year there is an exhibition called 20×20.
CK: What is that?
BT: 25-30 artists were invited to make artworks in the 20×20 format, as a reference to the year 2020.
CK: Do you sometimes get annoyed when people approach you about the “Stadtmacherinnen”? Do you get criticized sometimes?
BT: No, that is more of an exception. I may be criticized, but that is a fundamental criticism that in this cultural area that we, but also Container 25 move in, which is more socio-politically fixated, that there is simply too little support. Imagine, if you will, the events that Container 25 organises – in normal years without Covid 19 – probably 50 events and that with little public funding. We also usually organise 50 events a year, probably at a tenth of the cost compared to an official institution. There is so much potential left unused.
CK: But generally you are satisfied with the development?
BT: Yes, of course.
CK: And it will continue like this?
BT: As long as this basic funding is in place, we will certainly continue to exist, yes. There is also a little bit the question of what will become of the “StadtmacherInnen”-headquarters since Mr. Gutschi has bought the building. Can we stay for the long-term or not, will we have to look for another location?
CK: Have you spoken to him?
BT: No, but Eva Schatz from the council has talked to him and this year everything is okay and we’ll just have to see.
CK: Thank you, Bernhard, for your honest words.