Elisabeth Schmirl, „Because There Are So Many.“, 2023





Because There Are So Many.
Mural and light installation by
Elisabeth Schmirl

An Art and Memory Project of the University of Graz
Handed over to the public on May 8, 2023
Location: Unicorn, Conference Deck, Schubertstraße 6a, Graz


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“Because There Are So Many.” Elisabeth Schmirl’s artwork turns the stairwell of the Unicorn, which was opened in 2021 as the Start-up and Innovation Hub of the University of Graz (planning: arge leb idris architektur/architect iris reiter), into a multi-perspective space for encounter, remembrance and commemoration. The building, which was erected in 1868/69, served as the headquarters of Studentenwerk Graz, a chapter of the Reichsstudentenwerk Berlin, during the Nazi era. Two National Socialist murals, which were contextualised by an artistic intervention carried out by Richard Kriesche and Helmut Konrad in 1997 and listed as a memorial in this combination in 2017, still bear witness to this today.

The current art project “Because There Are So Many.” responds to this heterogenous memory space with portraits and messages of a multitude of contemporary and historical, real and fictional figures: “What is on display are virtually unique murals printed in flat grey. They run through the stairwell and manifest themselves between the first and second floor in a group presentation. There, near the wall, users of the stairwell can create multicoloured shadows with their bodies and connect with the life-size, screen-printed groups.” (Elisabeth Schmirl)

The impetus for the artistically arranged images and texts was a collection of around 70 historical and contemporary biographies of real people who used to study, research or lecture, or do so now, at the University of Graz. On the one hand, the protagonists are an expression of the university’s pluralism; on the other, they were either victims of the National Socialist policy of persecution or they have found refuge in Austria after fleeing from regimes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The biographical research and interviews were conducted by students at the University of Graz as part of two courses. The many voices involved in the project counter ideologies of enforced conformity and intellectual narrow-mindedness, from resentment down to contempt for humanity, with an image of solidarity and lived diversity in social and university life.

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All photos: Thomas Raggam

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The project on the website on the history of the University of Graz

Event on May 8, 2023 on the occasion of the artwork’s handover

Video-Rundgang durch die Ausstellung

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arge leb idris architecture/architect iris reiter: Jasmin Leb-Idris & Jakob Leb
< rotor > centre for contemporary art: Margarethe Makovec & Anton Lederer
University of Graz (Rector Dr. Peter Riedler, Unicorn, Center for Jewish Studies, Department of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology, Department of Educational Sciences / Migration – Diversity – Education)

Heimo Halbrainer, Brigitte Kukovetz, Judith Laister, Gerald Lamprecht as lecturers with Wanda Deutsch, Marco Jandl, Andela Karac, Livia Kodritsch, Lena Maierhofer, Heribert Macher-Kroisenbrunner, Nathalie Pollauf, Lena Prehal, Hannah Stadler und Antonia Unterholzer as students

Edith Abawe, Edvina Bešic, Sahar Mohsenzada, Asiyeh Panahi, Dženana Pupic, Masomah Regl, Emina Saric, Livinus Nwoha, Fred Ohenhen, Kheder Shadman, Nibaldo Vargas Arias, Eyawo Godswill

Litman Altman, Helmut Bader, Georg Barabás, Kurt Bermann, Israel-Joel Cygielman, Alexander Emöd, Erwin Feuerstein, Henryk Eisig Fisch, Salo Fischer, Eugen Ganz, Imre Groszman, Klara-Nina Gottlieb, Koloman Gordin, Paul Grünwald, István Hamvas, Gerhard Haushalter, Rudolf Hennefeld, David Herzog, Wolfgang Hepner, Hans Herlinger, Isak Hirsch, Izrael Hochmann/Jerzy Horecki, Lisbeth Hochsinger/Hockey, Eva Horowicz, Erwin György Jungreis, Kurt Kasner, Gisela Kaufmann, Ladislaus Kohn, Zdenko Kraus, Kurt Kunewälder, Trude Lang, Stefan Lichtblau, Sibylle Lichtenstein, Erwin Lipa, Otto Loewi, Viktor Loewi, Karl Löwinger, Alois Mandel, Josef Markus, Siegmund Markus, Maks Pajewski, Eugen Pillischer, Otto Pollak, Ernst Rachmuth, István Reich, Adela Reich, David Salomon Riss, Fritz Röhr, Friedrich Rosenrauch, Hans Rottenstein, Erna Scheck, Georg Schossberger, Ladislaus Schwarz, Norman Shefrin, Gustav Singer, Grete Singer, Borys Smazanowicz, Szyja Tyger, Ellen Witrofsky

Christiane Kada, Judith Laister, Gerald Lamprecht, Jasmin Leb-Idris, Jakob Leb,
Anton Lederer, Margarethe Makovec, Peter Riedler, Monika Sommer, Bernhard Weber

Elisabeth Schmirl with Agnes Urthaler-Jansa, Magdalena Berger, Isabell Heigl, Stefan Heizinger, Vivien Nattrodt


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