Safety Curtain

Encourage new, contemporary creativity in the Vienna State Opera

It is good and proper that art should not be reduced to the status of a decorative triviality but that it should polarise and stimulate. However, in spring 1997 as I brought up for discussion the of redesigning the safety curtain of the Vienna State Opera, it seemed as if I had opened Pandora's Box. A storm of indignation swept away all reasonable arguments for and against redesigning the safety curtain. I made it clear at the time that it was not my intention to destroy what was in existence, but rather to encourage new, contemporary creativity.

Feelings have in the meantime cooled down and I am happy that we have been able to find a competent partner in "museum in progress" who have further developed the original The generous support of "artpool" has made possible the realisation of this During the next four years, for the duration of one season, a work by an internationally known artist will be displayed in front of the safety curtain by means of a new technical process. The existing design will not be destroyed and will still be seen during the summer months.

The American artist, Kara Walker, whose picture for the 1998/99 season opens the newly created "living museum space", was the choice of the international jury for the first design. The Austrian artists Christine and Irene Hohenbüchler were chosen for the second design for the 1999/00 season.

I am pleased that in this way the State Opera can give one contemporary artist each year the opportunity to show his or her work in a place where it will receive much public attention.

(Ioan Holender, former Director of the Vienna State Opera, 1998)