I Remember You Well in the Hospiz Hotel
Vienna-based artist Johanna Braun stayed for three weeks at the Hospiz Hotel, Arlberg producing a new series of work on the hotel’s stationary. Inspired by the turbulent history, gloomy atmosphere, and spirit of the Hospiz Hotel and in addition as homage to Martin Kippenberger’s “Hotel Drawings” (1985 – 1996) and Wes Lang’s Residency at The Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles in 2011, Johanna Braun created detailed drawings, with an haunting imagery and therefore providing a visual journal of her stay.
After being invited to stay at the Hospiz Hotel for three weeks (in December 2013) I built a body of drawings exclusively focusing on the hotel’s little twisted history. In contrast to Martin Kippenbergers „Hotel Zeichnungen“ which are on a range of stationary from hotels he actually never stayed in and Wes Lang’s Residency at Chateau Marmont in 2011 who not only made just loose connections to the place he stayed in but also the United States of America itself (You will find Skulls, imagery of Native Americans and naked Women in an equal parts among his drawings) I took a clear approach to my residency.
The minute I arrived at the Hospiz Hotel and noticed the old, out dated atmosphere, I had the underlying feeling that this place and it’s occupants are still hanging on to a glorious past which is long gone. After walking the endless corridors down memory lane of the almost empty hotel where you can find at every turn a relict form a time long gone, I knew I had to capture this moment in time. Here the past is still the preferred time period. It seems here that you can’t escape the past and will never reach the present. The retired hotel owner is still being treated as the man of the house and the current owner seems unable to live up to the golden days of bygone times. Now his three-year-old son, embodying the coming generation, brings with his vital energy a glimpse of life to this ancient place. Already Freud knew: “the repressed eventually will return…that ought to have remained hidden and secret, and yet comes to light“ (Freud „The Uncanny“ S.376) and so it comes with no surprise that when the former hotel owners added the new building complex in 1957 they discovered the century old graveyard which was surrounding the congregation chapel that builds the core of the old hotel building. Death keeps invading life.
At a location where the new Hotel complex was literally built on the graves of its ancestors, the past and the uncertain future collide; it seems to be just the perfect place to summon the ghosts of the past, the present, and of years yet to come. I started a diary on the hotel’s Stationary, each day I produced at least one drawing. Trying to make sense of this historic site, which was in a sense so much over the place in the way it represents itself and the dark secrets sleeping beyond its surface. In this sense I haunted the Hospiz Hotel with my presence, reminding it of its hidden past and the unheeded present. In this moment this particular location becomes synonymous with many places in this country that are steeped with guilty secrets, dark memories and nostalgia of a long gone time. In this sense it’s not just that the place that is haunted by ghosts from the past, but from the history of the land it was built on, the country itself, and its historical events. After taking the atmosphere in, talking to hotel employees, village residents, former guests and doing my research I tried to wake this house from it’s daydream fiction of the past and remind it of it’s haunted foundation.
Johanna Braun, Jan.2014