François Davin invented a legend for the Festival of Regions with Es war einmal ein sehr alter Stau: 150 years ago, when the Summerauerbahn crossed and replaced the horse-drawn railway, there was a severe traffic jam … In the forest where this crossing was located, he planned a symbolic traffic jam consisting of old horse-drawn vehicles, carriages and sleighs. In collaboration with local farmers and experts, the artist has already realised over 200 “ceremonies” of this kind worldwide.
Festival report Andi Wahl
It must have been March or April. Otto from the festival office called me to ask if I had the time to come by at some point. He had a project in mind for which he could use my help. And so I went, of course I did! Whenever Otto calls it is bound to be interesting. The French artist François Davin had developed a concept for an installation, but due to health reasons was not able to realize it himself. Based on the old travel routes between the Danube and the Vltava, he developed a legend. According to François’ legend, 150 years ago, at the intersection of the Summerauerbahn and the horse-drawn railway, there occurred a traffic accident which in turn created a traffic jam that still exists today in a section of the forest near to the train station in Summerau. Otto told me that was my job to create this traffic jam. This meant that I first had to collect a number of old vehicles drawn by horses and once I had them, fabricate a traffic jam. Seeing as I am a trained carpenter and therefore something of a “Wagner”, it should be an easy thing for me to put something like that together. You have to keep in mind that Otto has a good eye for these sorts of things! He knows exactly who to ask to do something. But enough of that! The whole thing really did fit me rather well. And it did make me rather happy, meeting all the owners of the old vehicles and explaining François’ idea to them. Many of the materials were gifted to us on the spot. I like the way things like this are done here without much fuss and in such a considerate manner. This is a way of going about things that I encounter again and again in the Mühlviertel (though this could also be because I spend most of my time there).
When transporting the vehicles, and particularly when putting them together – we received many of them in their individual parts – I often hat to think of the Italian composer Luigi Nono (1924 – 1990). He was part of what is call “serial music”, an atonal form of music from the school of Darmstadt, if that means anything to you. No matter! He was also a very avid Communist. And so of course, he was confronted with the problem – as you can imagine – that many of his proletarian comrades had no interest in his art. But he was able to solve this problem. He always developed his musical theater projects, his operas, and the like, together with manual laborers. He included the competencies of blacksmiths and carpenters and stage builders. This is how the composer, and the manual laborers were able to meet on the same level and both were able to gain an understanding for the work of the other. I find this to be a wonderful approach and I also feel like this wonderfully represents the philosophy of the Festival of the Regions.
Of course, you don’t have to agree with me. But I truly do feel like Luigi Nono would have found a friend, had he seen me and Graser Heinrich and Glasner Alois and myself moving around these wagons in the forest, trying to create the artistic concept that François Davin had developed. I’m sure Nono wasn’t really watching us, because as a Communist he was most definitely also an Atheist. And when an Atheist dies, that’s it. At least I think that’s the case. On the other hand, Nono was also an Italian, like Guiseppe (“Peppone”) Bottazzi. So, if you look at it like that … No matter!
In any case, through this project I learned quite a lot about brakes, and turntable steering, and tilting. But not only that. I was also around people for the first time in a long time and was even able to taste self-brewed beer and whiskey. Oh yes, and one time I was even offered lamb innards. I loved being involved in this project. I then took all the vehicles home with me. And even while I am writing this, people keep coming over to pick up their wagons, wheels, spindles, and front and back axles. Sometimes to restore them, and sometimes for decoration. And so, the wagons and the individual parts remain in movement. Is there anything more beautiful for a vehicle than that?
Concept and idea: François Davin
Realisation: Andi Wahl
Thanks to the farmers Gottfried Pachinger, Josef Viehböck, Sonja und Walter Sengstschmid, Gerald Koller, Josef Engelmann, Helene und François Touze-Affenzeller, Johann Freudenthaler, Ernst Freudenthaler, Michael Fleischanderl, Marianne und David Lechner, Familie Friesenecker, Familie Rohrmanstorfer
and Conny Wernitznig, Friedrich Stockinger und Bettina Preinfalk (Verein Freunde der Pferdeeisenbahn), Nicole Wegscheider und Fritz Fellner (Schlossmuseum Freistadt), Florian Böttcher, Otto Ruhsam, Roman Glaser, Alois Glaser, Heinrich Graser und Gottfried Pachinger
The art created by François Davin is always a dialogue with the places he is invited to. He speaks with these places, with their landscapes, history, geology, flora and fauna, with their functions and potentials. Again and again, he has realized that this approach makes it possible for him to engage with the local population of the various places and to include them in the work in the form of a celebration of their territory. François Davin has realised over 200 projects on five different continents, and cut his teeth as an artist in France.