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Roman Ondák :
Tourist’s Trophies

Melk, 2006 – 2015


In 2005, when the abbey suggested making Mozart's stay there the subject of an artwork for the coming Mozart Year, Roman Ondák took a series of photographs of Mozart commemorative plaques mounted on the façades of buildings in several European towns and cities. He showed replicas of these plaques under the title Tourist's Trophies in the Melk Bastion in summer 2006.

In 2015 the artproject has been returned to the Landessammlungen Niederösterreich and is no longer on view.

The Slovakian artist Roman Ondák establishes links to the cultural life of the present with elements of detective work. For the work at Stift Melk in the Mozart Year 2005 he engages with the factor of time, with travel and with memory. The monastery mentioned a visit by Mozart to the monastery in this context. Ondák took this event as his point of departure for his concept, and decided to follow Mozart on his journeys to the European towns and cities of London, Paris, Vienna, Baden, Salzburg, Venice, Rovereto, Ala, Bratislava, Frankfurt and Mannheim. He visited the Mozart memorials in each of these places and photographed the commemorative plaques mounted on the façades there. He behaved like the tourists who are totally obsessed with amassing as many of such 'cultural treasures' as possible by visiting them, taking photographs of them and bringing the images back home. A collection of Mozart plaques was subsequently shown in the Melk Bastei in the summer of 2006: different kinds of reliefs, displaced objects, and structural sculpture that has relinquished its link to the original architecture. Are they the booty of souvenir hunters? The source of the heavy metal and bronze plaques appeared enigmatic and mysterious to large numbers of tourists. Who had brought them to Melk? And, who had used this subterranean hideaway? Roman Ondák remains silent on the matter. His artworks, arranged with an ironic deeper meaning, act as pivots between actual locations and the artistic gesture. The fine play with meaning is at the same time a 'poetic act', a story that challenges our imagination. The work is now part of the inventory of the Lower Austrian Landesmuseum and is intended for permanent installation at Melk when this proves possible.
(Brigitte Huck)