Collection > KARL VOUK


mixed technique,

74 x 222 cm

From 2005 to 2009, Karl Vouk painted nine so-called Carinthian triptychs that involve a considerable deal of criticism and sarcasm as they lay bare the political reality in Carinthia and Austria’s neglect towards the Slovenian minority in that region. The exhibited triptychs are a part of this series. They were created on the 50th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty, or rather the 50th anniversary of the failure to comply with it. During their first exhibition for a festive ceremony in the gallery of the Carinthian State Diet in Klagenfurt, they garnered an animated political response.

Triptych # 1 “Horuck üba’n Loibl!” (The defamed slogan of the right-wing Austrian nationalists used while expelling members of the Slovenian minority across the border to former Yugoslavia). It refers to the fact that Yugoslavia erected a monument to internees, victims of fascism, who were forced to dig a tunnel under the Ljubelj pass during WW II. Austria hesitated until recently before finally sticking a small commemorative tag beside the tunnel entrance on its side of the border crossing.

Triptych # 2 “Pax Vobiscum” shows the former governor Haider with the inscription »Mortal« and Jesus with the inscription “Immortal”. It is an ironic commentary on Haider’s cadre policy: the head of the department for Minority Community Policy Vladimir Smrtnik (his last name could be translated into English as »mortal«) decided to stand as a candidate for the Slovenian United List at the provincial elections; as a result he was transferred to a minor office responsible for the sewage systems. Haider appointed a man who was formerly an employee of the Pax funeral parlour in his position. At the time the Slovenian media in Carinthia commented on this by stating that Haider appointed an undertaker as the head of the department.

Ironically enough, a few years later Haider lay in repose at this very funeral parlour – an unambiguous proof of his mortality.

Triptych # 3 “Karntn is lei ans!” (German Carinthian dialect: There is only one Carinthia!). The central image is surrounded by the logos of the two EU countries: Austria and Slovenia. Currently, as the nations of Europe are uniting under the blue EU-flag, Carinthia remains sole and unified, coloured in brown. Brown has strong political connotations related to Austria’s history. With the rise of national socialism, the light brown becomes the colour of party member’s uniforms, and brown is also present in the Carinthian folk costume.

Text: Marko Košan

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