The state vocational school in Hollabrunn has recently acquired a new butcher workshop, which it shares with the school of agriculture and the College of Food Technology (HTL). Gabriele Schöne’s artistic design encompasses all of the building’s outside walls and is visible from a distance thanks to its clear language of forms. The artist’s exterior wall design refers to what goes on inside the workshop, where slaughtered animals are cut into pieces for optimal consumption.
Schöne’s art raises our awareness of the world around us. She works to deconstruct our outdated habits of seeing and behaving and questions our structures of perception. In another series of pictures from the late 2000s, for example, she highlighted animals by showing them only as silhouettes, leaving them conspicuous by their absence. In a similar way, the motifs on the walls of the public vocational school in Hollabrunn are either reduced to white monochrome ceramic tiles, or they appear in the form of linear outlines, thereby leaving out all semblance of corporeality. The stylized motifs—some of which are arranged like a frieze, while others are assembled in clusters—structure the outside walls of the new building with outlines of cow and pig parts that are cut and processed in the traditional way of the craft. The artist took the correct “pattern” for the cuts from Austrian cookbooks.
The ceramic surfaces are a reference to the cold tiled rooms and floors where the animals are usually processed in butcheries. By conveying the process of butchering and cutting from the inside of the building to the outside, the artist generates a sense of transparency. Her creation of a pleasing design for exterior walls therefore assumes the power of a highly socio-political act. With their individual, organic designs, the handmade ceramic figures serve as a metaphor for diametrically opposing industrial meat processing, instead pointing to the singularity of each animal as a living being.
Gabriele Schöne was born in Mistelbach in the Weinviertel area (the wine district northeast of Vienna), where she grew up and now lives today. For the past ten plus years of her career, she has focused on themes like the constructed images of idyllic nature, livestock, and native wild animals, all of which tend to serve in urban contexts as clichés about life in the country.