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Richard Hoeck :

St. Pölten, 1997


The two-stage competition provided the background to the artistic intervention in St. Pölten, for which seven artworks by Austrian artists were recommended for realisation. These projects are by Josef Danner, Bruno Gironcoli, Richard Hoeck, Hans Kupelwieser, Christoph Steffner, Thomas Stimm and Heimo Zobernig. Five commissions for interiors were awarded directly, to Gunter Damisch, Franz Graf, Brigitte Kowanz, Eva Schlegel and Walter Vopava. The winning project in a separate competition for the design of the chapel (1995) is by Arnulf Rainer. Additional existing artworks by Franz Xaver Ölzant, Oskar Putz and Ruth Schnell are also to be found in the Regierungsviertel. Works by Dara Birnbaum and Michelangelo Pistoletto, also selected by the first jury, are not realized.

Richard Hoeck's work is closely linked to his "Translantic Echeos" project in which he explores and reflects on the western genre from the perspective of a European living in New York and Vienna. "Cowboy", however, was not the first idea that the artist had for St. Pölten. Originally he had suggested "a Lenin for St. Pölten".
The description of these metal sculptures as picture puzzles and their displacement to the other side of the Traisen river facing the government district reinforce the discourse on periphery and center. The horseback cowboy was supposed to be integrated in an apartment complex, playground, etc. - a setting that is still unused and as empty as a steppe. "Transatlantic Echeos" was a projekt extending over two years and comprising three parts: "...a porch, modelled after the porch featured in John Ford's 'The Searcher'; a film loop comprised of a shot/countershot sequence from Howard Hawk's 'Red River' and a live music performance by the Berlin country band 'Blood on the Honky Tonk Floor' " (John Miller). The cowboy on the Traisen has been transcended in Richard Hoeck's context, but it can only be understood by adopting a differential approach to studying cultures and habitats from the perspective of the Other. This could also apply to St. Pölten. In this respect he is not as unpolitical as the highly dangerous Lenin who was opposed with a vengeance. At least he is dead and can no longer ride by waving his hat.