Summer Holidays

Group of works – Summer Holidays and Picnic, 2008. 

Pure romance. Summer holiday is a call for searching one’s center, returning to gradualness, to questioning valences and it opposes idyllic illusion.

Currently, the issues of environment and climate cut through all aspects of public and private life, get through to the bar rooms, and respective book titles compete for attention. Television addresses green topics; some series try to integrate “environmental and climate issues”. Environmentalism is on everyone’s lips. But why now: for those really aware, ecology was a topic of major significance already back in the 1980s, even if frequently belittled then. Today, the want for sound nature launches processes of social change. Motor traffic, climate change, limited resources, food crisis – these are just a few of the catchphrases related to the situation.

Flashback: in the 19th century, courtly and civil urban society discovered “summer holidays” and relocated social life in summer to the country side. This marked the beginning of the trend to completely evacuate specific aspects of life such as recreation, leisure and holidays from daily routine.

Cowpat shipping acknowledges ancient usage. In former times, some city dwellers used to collect cowpats during their holidays in the countryside. They used to dry them and sent themselves parcels containing these dried cowpats. They served to fertilize urban garden plots and window boxes. Nowadays, nobody would collect, dry and mail cowpats. GZ brought pats from the countryside to Vienna, placed them at sunny spots, flipped and dried them for several weeks, and finally packed them. 

Series Alpine Summer was created in between 1972 and 1993. GZ took photos of the partly already decayed chalets and stables on an alpine pasture in the Low Tauern, where she and her family used to stay for the summer months. These alpine cabins are at nearly 1800 meters above sea level and were restored over the years. The simple alpine life included both – huge efforts such as carrying building materials up the mountain as well as amusement by daily playing and recreation with friends and visitors.

Collage Sheep Tending has been inspired by sketches that were drawn on the Styrian alp. The photo was taken in the 1940s –it shows a “dirndl”.

For “Picnic”, Greta Znojemsky asked Viennese children to depict their idea of a picnic. Their drawings – being mounted above a cow’s horn that protrudes into the room like a hunting trophy – allow a view onto a generation’s changed habits. Picnic with frozen pizza, picnic at the playground, a romantic picnic including “girl” and “boy” compare picnic-related situations in order to reveal what now and then share and at which points they differ: food, the relation to nature, family constellations. 

For “Summer Holidays Traces of Green – Media Attention”, cleared out shreds of paper – records and administrative documents, originating from an institute for health and social affairs such as medical certifications, reports and health care data – were made part of a “sound” growth process again, i.e. the development of a picture. Symbolizing grass blades and hay bundles on a summer meadow, they are completed by magnetic recording tapes, traces of former capability for communication between man and nature. The tapes also refer to the media’s current interest in the issue of climate change. 

The objects of bag and shoes present themselves in green livery. Ecological awareness as fashionable disguise. Handbags and shoes are a fetish, magical objects the wearing of which bears a special meaning. Pick up your bag, take on your shoes and go out in the wild. 

”Cowpat Shipping”, installation, dried cowpats, newsprint, metal case 21x41cm, lace cloth, 2008
“Alpine Summer”, slide show, photos from 1972-1993
“Sheep Tending”, graphite pencil, charcoal, photo, on paper, 60x80cm, 2006
“Picnic”, installation, children drawings, each 20x30cm, cow’s horn, 2008
Diptych “Rhythm of Communication”, 30x50cm, 2003
“Summer Holidays”, acrylic paint, paper, magnetic recording tape, 247x 116cm, 2008. 

“Bag and Shoes”, objet d’art, acrylic paint, paper and paper waste, 38x36x10cm, 22x27x10cm, 2008