Transzendenzaufzug (Transcendence Elevator), 2017
Elevator, steel, glass, concrete
12 x 4 x 3 m
Photos © Manfred Seidl, 2017
In artistic production, the freight elevator is of great importance. It travels all floors of the university building and transports both people and works of art. First and foremost, however, it transports the material with which the students of the art academy work, experiment, and produce. The freight elevator is thus a central tool for an art university. Moving vertically, it crosses all the levels, ceilings, and floors of the building.
The Art-in-Architecture project for the roof top of the art academy in Linz, Austria, aims to highlight the manifold roles and meanings of the freight elevator withinthe arts: The vitreous elevator pierces the roof of the university building, thus turning into an observation tower, from which one can enjoy a magnificent 360-degree view overlooking the city of Linz.
Lit up and exit-less, the lift appears like a walkable light sculpture. Metaphorically, it symbolizes the ability of art to transcend the given, thereby generating new perspectives of reality. The transcendental elevator illustrates the ability of art to cross both spatial and mental boundaries and to open up new experiential opportunities.
The freight elevator plays a significant role in the arts. First of all, no art museum, large gallery, art storage, or institution could operate without it. Second, the use of former industrial sites as artist studios would be unthinkable without the freight elevator as the central vehicle for bulky materials - steel, stone, wood, canvas, frames etc. – and the resulting art works. In a way, freight elevators might even gain a certain aura or fame, depending on the fame of the artists and artworks that were transported within it. Even though a freight elevator itself is not considered to be an exhibition space, there is always the possibility of taking it over and turning it into a small showroom with the purpose of presenting art works and projects. It will, however, always remain a transitory space, a space of passing. But because of its importance for the production of contemporary art, especially within the realm of an art university, the lift should get the attention that it deserves and is entitled to: It should be considered beyond its mere functional profanity, it should not be hidden in a closed off shaft, rather, it should be transformed into a transparent, auratic space of movement and foresight. Thus, the elevator becomes a space of creation and experimenting. At the same time the lift allows for a transitory view of art in all its different states: The raw material, unfinished or in the making, packed up and ready to be shipped, finished and out in the open. In each case, the lift as a transitory space and a kinetic sculpture moves vertically through the building, passing all floors. If by accident the wrong number is punched, an artwork might unintentionally (or perhaps also deliberately) show up in the glass cube above the roof, appearing like a transitory work of art. The lift then turns into a kind of lighthouse of artistic creation, visible from afar. In a similar way, people – students, teachers, visitors – can appear within the glass elevator, visible as “oneminute sculptures” on the roof of the academy.