Kunstalm is the name of an artist in residency programme and sculpture park by the owners Katrin Liesenfeld-Jordan and Dirk Liesenfeld of art-lodge Hotel in Carinthia, Austria. In spring, we visited the sculpture park and discovered spectacular artworks in direct dialogue with it’s surrounding landscape.
Our interview with the collectors gives you a glimpse into their relationship with art, artists and the environment. They reveal the importance of making art accessible and how Kunstalm offers its visitors a “soft” entrance into the art world.
VC: Let’s start from the beginning, when did you start to engage with art? Did it start with buying art or collecting came in later?
Katrin Liesenfeld-Jordan and Dirk Liesenfeld: Well, we were always interested in art – even before we met and got married, both of us had more or less first contacts to the art scene. But then, when we started to earn some money we slightly slid into what you could call “collecting” – we bought some art without any expectations but at one point we had more than we could hang. Maybe this is the moment you can call somebody a “collector”. 🙂
VC: How did your taste shift? Did it shift at all?
We don’t think so. We were and are still interested in young positions and not in names or investments.
VC: What is your approach to collecting art?
Well, there is no distinct strategic approach and we are aware of our limitations on professionalism and financial capacities. Certainly, we still believe in our own instincts and judgement; and we are always open for and interested in new experiences. The fascination with collecting art is to learn about artists and their worldviews. Another fascinating point is to confront our guests (do not forget, we are showing the collection in a hotel and not in a museum) with contemporary art in a very relaxed atmosphere. Maybe, the constantly growing sculpture park is the most meaningful aspect as long as we are presenting art in a natural environment that is admission free for the public and without being too educational.
VC: What do you look for in the artwork?
Besides the visual attributes of the artwork and the effects that they have on us, we are always interested in the artist’s personal and professional context. Since we collect solely very young art, the artists are mostly younger than us and this fact makes collecting so exciting for us. What is the artistic approach? What is her/his mission?
VC: You have formed beautiful relationships with some of the artists from your collection. Was that intended? How do you maintain that?
Yes, we were and still are very happy to have made the acquaintance with some young artists and to be able to accompany them on their road a little. As mentioned before, we are always interested in the human beings “behind the artwork” and therefore our “artists in residency programme” is just focused on inviting artists to have a nice and relaxing time at our place. The only condition is that she or he should spend an evening together with us, having a glass of wine (or anything else).
VC: What gave you the idea to combine art with your hotel?
That’s a funny story. In our former life we were engaged in advertising – one day we started to think about “elderly advertising professionals” and decided to change our way of lifestyle … living in a big house to host our collection – and some friends – and some guests led us to the idea to establish a tiny hotel in the countryside. That’s how the story started ?
VC: How did the process of setting up rooms by artists look like?
Very easy, with a bottle of beer (or a glass of wine) with some dear artist-friends …
VC: What do you look for when you are choosing the artists to participate in the residency program?
We are so, so curious to meet (young) artists and to find out what they want to tell to the world.
VC: How important is it for you that the artworks “speak” to the environment through site-specific works and materials?
Yes, well, that’s a good question: Inside everything is possible. Outside, the sculptures all have meanings and it’s so lovely to witness the process of how artists go along with the environment and materials …
VC: How does the art, landscape and hotel interlink to form the concept of Kunstalm?
1 + 1 + 1 = 4 ?
VC: What kind of visitors do you get at Kunstalm?
That’s the amazing thing: we are able to witness so many different people who are obviously not interested in art in their “normal lives”. Just by coincidence or out of curiosity, they will have a quick walk through the sculpture park – and that is what makes us feel so good! This attitude to present art for free could be a blue print for other collections. Tear down the walls for culture and communication!
VC: When did the Sculpture Park begin?
We started to establish the first sculpture around 2010 and we had to wait for the official permission to create a sculpture park on an alpine meadow until around 2016 – since then we are allowed to combine the exhibition of sculptures in combination with the original use as a meadow (used by our Corinthian mountain sheep). And we are very happy with that.
VC: What gave you the idea to extend the artworks beyond the hotel?
The installation of Claudia Rogge with around 23 “naked men” crouching along the entrance of the art-lodge in 2009 inspired us to force the idea of showing art around the hotel – for everybody and for free ?
KUNSTALM is initiated by Katrin Liesenfeld-Jordan and Dirk Liesenfeld, owners of the art-lodge Hotel, to support an artist in residency programme and to realise a sculpture park with a distinct reference to the local environment. In addition, for around 20 years now, a collection of time based art is growing constantly, which is partly presented in the entire hotel and was shown in different exhibitions.
The Sculpture Park comprises of approximately 15.000 square meters of alpine meadows. Since they got the permission to show sculptures on the property in 2010 and 2017, every year they invite one or several artists to create and realise an out- or indoor installation. The sculptures and installations are intervening with location-specific materials, e.g. findings and rejected things. The sculptures are not only representing the collection outside, but also the projects enable young and emerging artists to realise projects in a public area. In the summer of 2017, curated by Philip Patkowitsch, they extended the concept: The direct dialogue with the environmental landscape and the focus on the location is the main objective. Meanwhile, nine new sculptures were located at the enlarged sculpture pastures with a newly integrated walking path.
The Liesenfeld/Jordan art collection comprises of contemporary art pieces from Austrian and German artists working on painting, photography, sculpture and video.
List of artists in their collection:
Giulia Bowinkel | Franz Burkhardt | Ralf Edelmann | Theresa Eipeldauer | Andrea Faciu | Vincent Faciu | Wolfgang Flad | Aurelia Gratzer | Stephanie Guse | Ruth Habermehl | Sibylle von Halem | Amina Handke | Stephan Kaluza | Terese Kasalicky | Birgit Knoechl | Katharina Mayer | Farshido Larimian | Markus Lüpertz | Liav Mizrahi | Johannes Niesel-Reghenzani | Carolin Cosima Oel | David Ostrowski | Philip Patkowitsch | Michail Pirgelis | Mathias Pöschl | Julya Rabinowich | Claudia Rogge | Thomas Ruff | Christoph Schirmer | Stefan Sehler | Katharina Sieverding | Klaus Sievers | Beat Streuli | Thomas Struth | Rosemarie Trockel | Martina Tscherni | Günther Uecker | Salvatore Viviano | Robert Voith | Clemens Wolf | Vittorio Zambardi
Written by viennacontemporary