191 - Un-Austria

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“This work uses real statistics on Austria to create an image of Austria,” Babak Fakhamzadeh here on his website about this work, ‘Numbers’, that he created for Paraflows in Vienna, demonstrating a concept called ‘un-space’:

“Statistics, representing a real-life environment are, by their very nature, an un-space, as they only exist on paper. For example, the statistic that 1% of Austrians are members of voluntary environmental organizations is nothing but a number and doesn’t say anything about each individual living in Austria, except in general terms, on an abstract level.” “However, these numbers, these statistics, create a representation of a physical space, Austria, therefore pretending that statistics can actually be representative for a real life construct.”

To take ‘un-space’ up on its own premise, let’s just imagine an Austria in which, quite literally…

• All of the 4,9% Austrians who are unemployed live close to the Slovakian border, not far from Bratislava. For every 1.000 Austrians, a ghostly half-priest stalks an area enclaved in between this Arbeitslosenland and Slovakia. • A small area just south of Unemployed Country houses the 2,2% of Austrians who are actually Serbians. • In the south of the country, probably in a gated community and with screwed to the front of their houses the most expensive alarm installations their plundered coffers could afford, live the 3,1% of Austrians who’ve been the victim of a property crime – or theft, as they called it in the olden days. • Rarther inconveniently located in Carinthia and Styria, some of the most vertically-challenging parts of the country, are the 9,1% who love their Apfelstrudel too much. Think of all those ample Austrians having tho heave themselves over hill and dale to get to the nearest shop. Fortunately, the Alp meadows are stocked with purple cows, made completely out of chocolate. • The half percent of Austrians using amphetamines are tucked away near Bregenz, close to the Swiss border, next to that other undesirable element, the 7% “not proud of their nationality”, tucked away in Tyrol - which is ironic, since Tyroleans are usually a bit more nationalistic than the average Austrian (or so I’ve been told by an Austrian).

Cannabis users (3%), Muslims (4,7%) and volunteers (3%) each occupy a slice of Austria’s north, with illiterates (2%) holding on to the core of the Heimat. Just for fun,

I’m trying to picture a border crossing between each of these entities inside ‘un-Austria’: The sternly disapproving gaze of pious, bearded customs officers in skullcaps and halal Lederhosen, directed at their giggling slacker colleagues in the nearby booth, actually encourages their incontrollable bouts of laughter. The volunteer side of the border crossing sits unmanned, allowing thousands to cross unchecked, while the illiterate officers, frustrated at not being able to find anything wrong with any of those passports, have to wave all of them through.

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