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monumental set design on the water…


One year after the end of the Second World War, the first Bregenz Festival was held: the week-long Bregenz Festwoche. The inaugural performance was staged upon two barges moored on Lake Constance – one carrying the stage structures for Mozart’s early work Bastien et Bastienne, the other the orchestra. In a town that did not even possess a theatre, the idea of mounting a festival seemed eccentric; but the initially makeshift solution of choosing the loveliest part of the town – the lake – as the stage proved to be a hugely successful one. Visitors from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France made the Festival an international event in its very first year. The Festival orchestra from the outset was the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, which has made a major contribution to the evolution and success of the Festival.

"The Death of Marat" by David (detail)...

In 1950 the Bregenz Festival acquired its first home: an off-shore stage erected on wooden piles, on which mainly operettas and ballets were performed. The open-air auditorium had a capacity of 6,500 seats; in the event of rain, a sports’ hall seating 1,000 people could be used instead. The previous year, 1949, had seen the foundation of the Patrons of the Bregenz Festival, a Bregenz residents organization which subsequently became the organizer of the annual Festival. Stage designer Walter von Hoesslin, with director Adolf Rott, took the first steps towards a distinct Bregenz production style, in that he dispensed with the conventional proscenium stage when designing the Seebühne. For him the lake was not just scenery, but a central element of the productions.

In July 2007 a team from EON Productions, the production company responsible for the James Bond movies, visited one of the last rehearsals for Tosca. Producer Barbara Broccoli and director Marc Forster were impressed – by the unique location on the shore of Lake Constance, the imposing stage set with its hi-tech capabilities, and by the modern architecture of the Festspielhaus. In the first week of May a film crew came to shoot scenes for the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace and stayed for ten days. In the film Bond discovers his adversary for the first time during a performance of Tosca during a seven-and-a-half-minute, high-action sequence shot in the Festspielhaus and on the Seebühne. Director Marc Forster has incorporated the opera intriguingly into the action of the film: the chase through the Festspielhaus is at the end like an apocalyptic silent film – interspersed with dramatic scenes from the Bregenz Tosca.


Opera on the Lake 1946 – 2006


19 monumental sculptures created for the ’68 XIX Olympics in Mexico City


One of the cultural artistic realizations of the Mexico City Olympic Games of 1968 was the planning and execution of nineteen abstract, monumental, concrete sculptures on the Southern part of the “Anillo Periferico”, the superhighway leading around the capital of the country. It was an example of team work on a large project of an artistic nature made possible especially by two distinguished personalities, architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, who was the President of the organizing committee of Mexico’s Olymic Games, and Mathias Goeritz, a German sculptor who was the creator and director of the project.

At that time architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez had already received both national and international acclaim for having designed the acclaimed National Museum of Anthropology, the Aztec Stadium, and other outstanding buildings as well as hun- dreds of public schools built by local labor and materials. He later became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and, together with his Swiss col- league, Jean Pierre Cahen, designed both the administrative building of the IOC and the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mathias Goeritz was a noted sculptor, born in the free city port of Danzig, who had to flee from the Nazis because he was partly of Jewish origin. He settled in Mexico after the Second World War. In 1957 Goeritz had designed a group of concrete towers called the “Torres de Satelite” in the suburb “Ciudad Satelite” near Mexico City. These tower-sculptures were conceived with a direct relationship to a super-highway. Today they are situated in a densely populated area of the huge megalopolis.

In 1966 Mathias Goeritz proposed to Pedro Ramirez Vazquez that the organizing committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad convene an international meeting of sculptors in Mexico as one of the cultural events of the Olympic Games. Numerous meetings devoted exclusively to aesthetic questions had already been held in the past in different parts of the world, but the idea was that this one should give the artists a specific task or theme. The meeting was supposed to gather together sculptors from every continent, from all ethnic groups and from all the main political trends of the world at that time. It thus had an idealistic and humanistic nature that transcended aesthetics and was in conformity with the fundamental principles of the Olympic

The Route of Friendship Movement was to be an international event with the unifying theme of brotherhood of all the peoples of the world. The particular problem the sculptors were to solve limited their artistic liberty by the following restrictions: the sculptures had to be made of concrete, be monumental, and abstract. Furthermore, the sculptors were supposed to have in mind solutions related to being located adjacent to a superhighway. The President of the organizing committee gave his full support.

The nineteen monumental sculptures were executed along the “Anillo Periferice” on both sides of the Olympic Village. At that time this expressway which was in the process of construction passed through zones outside the city as well as urbanized areas. It also went through parks and sparsely inhabited zones which later became part of the city.

(OLYMPIKA  Vol. VII 1998)

the participating artists: Angela Gurría – Mexico, Willi Gutmann – Switzerland, Milos Chlupác – Czechoslovakia, Koshi Takahashi – Japan, Pierre Székely – France/Hungary, Gonzalo Fonseca – Uruguay, Constantino Nivola – Italy/United States, Jacques Moeschal – Belgium, Todd Williams – United States, Grzegorz Kowalski – Poland, Jose Maria Subirachs – Spain, Clement Meadmore – Australia, Herbert Bayer – United States/Austria, Joop J. Beljon – The Netherlands, Itzhak Danziger – Israel, Olivier Séguin – France, Mohamed Melehi – Morocco, Helen Escobedo – Mexico, Jorge Dubón – Mexico…


the Swiss Alps project will be the longest…

the drill machine “Sissi”…

from AP

The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is seen as an important milestone in the creation of a high-speed transportation network connecting all corners of Europe.

First conceived in 1947 by engineer Eduard Gruner, it will allow millions of tons of goods that are currently transported through the Alps on heavy trucks to be shifted onto the rails, particularly on the economically important link between the Dutch port of Rotterdam and Italy’s Mediterranean port of Genoa.

The tunnel also aims to reduce the damage that heavy trucks are inflicting on Switzerland’s pristine Alpine landscape.

Some 2,500 workers have spent nearly 20 years smashing through the rock beneath the towering Gotthard massif, including the 8,200-foot Piz Vatgira (Vatgira Peak).

When the $10 billion tunnel opens for rail traffic in 2017, it will replace Japan’s 33.5-mile Seikan Tunnel as the world’s longest – excluding aqueducts – and let passenger and cargo trains pass under the Alps at speeds of up to 155 mph on their way from Germany to Italy.

Swiss voters, who are paying over $1,300 each to fund the project, approved its construction in a series of referendums almost 20 years ago.

European transport ministers watched the breakthrough ceremony live from a meeting in Luxembourg, conscious that Switzerland has set the bar very high for future cross-Alpine rail projects. Two further tunnels – one connecting connect Lyon, France, to Turin in Italy, and the other replacing the Brenner road tunnel between Austria and Italy – are still a long way from completion.

Swiss engineers are hoping to complete the rail tunnel even sooner than planned – possibly by the end of 2016 – but its first high-speed trains could be delayed by protests in Germany and Italy, where local opposition to new tracks and budget constraints have become an issue in recent months.

The protesters in Stuttgart oppose plans to move the city’s station underground, viewing the €4.1 billion ($5.7 billion) project as a waste of money. Supporters say it will free up the city’s packed center and help shorten journeys across Europe.

(CBS NEWS.COM  10.15.10)

big balls…

a history…


1644: The Gottorp Globe the world’s first modern planetarium, is completed in Germany. The hollow sphere, ten feet in diameter, is turned by water power; it has a map of the constellations on the interior and a map of the world on the outside. In 17­14, it is given as a gift to Peter the Great but is destroyed by fire in 1747. The reconstructed globe, stolen by the Germans in World War II and recovered by US troops, now resides at the St. Petersburg Kunstkammer.

1850: Baron Haussmann and engineer Eugène Belgrand design the modern Paris sewer system.The sewers are regularly cleaned using large wooden spheres just smaller than the system’s tubular tunnels. The buildup of water pressure behind the balls forces them through the tunnel network until they emerge somewhere downstream pushing a mass of filthy sludge.

1922: Meteorologist Lewis Fry Richardson, creator of the first dynamic model for weather prediction, proposes the creation of a “forecast factory” that would employ some 64,000 human computers sitting in tiers around the circumference of a giant globe. Each calculator would be responsible for solving differential equations related to the weather in his quadrant of the earth. From a pedestal in the center of the factory, a conductor would orchestrate this symphony of equations by shining a beam of light on areas of the globe where calculation was moving too fast or falling behind.

1930s: Workers from the United Fruit Company, clearing land in the Diquis Valley of Costa Rica, begin unearthing large numbers of almost perfectly round stone spheres. The largest of these apparently man-made balls is over six feet in diameter and weighs over sixteen tons. No one is sure exactly when or how they were made, or by whom, or for what reason, but according to University of Kansas archaeologist John Hoopes, “the balls were most likely made by reducing round boulders to a spherical shape through a combination of controlled fracture, pecking, and grinding.” Today, virtually all of the spheres have been taken from their original locations. Many are now prized lawn ornaments across Costa Rica.

1934: William Beebe and Otis Barton descend more than half a mile beneath the surface of the ocean in the Bathysphere, a 4.75-foot steel ball fitted with three-inch—thick quartz windows. Their depth record stands for fourteen years.

1939: The centerpiece of the New York World’s Fair is a 700-foot triangular spire called the Trylon and the 180-foot tall Perisphere, a giant ball housing a model of a Utopian garden city of the future called “Democracity.” It is described in the official guide book as a “symbol of a perfectly integrated, futuristic metropolis pulsating with life and rhythm and music.”

1960: NASA launches Echo 1, America’s first communications satellite. The 100-foot mylar “satalloon” is coated in shiny, radio-reflective aluminum that allows it to passively bounce radio and television signals across the Atlantic.

1984: After a dispute with the Austrian government over the construction of his spherical house, Austrian artist Edwin Lipburger declares his property an independent nation and renames it the Republic of Kugelmugel. Lipburger is sentenced to jail for his refusal to pay taxes and insistence on printing his own stamps. However, a pardon from the Austrian president saves him from serving time.

1999: The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory begins operation more than a mile underground in an Ontario mine. The forty-foot sphere is filled with 1,000 tons of heavy water. Its purpose is to detect solar neutrinos.

the complete history here



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