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Prater Stories

Prater Stories

PROJECT BY Stefanie Hoffmann & Helene Payrhuber

When you walk through Prater in Vienna in December, it is extremely quiet. In fact, it is so quiet that one could almost be afraid of the colorful iron constructions of the abandoned rides, and the “Prater figures” wrapped in plastic. Sometimes it seems that people can be spotted in the distance, but most of the time it is an illusion. Nevertheless, the Wurstelprater in winter is still colorful. So multicolored that one could almost overlook the traces of paint on the ground that appear mysterious and surreal–in this place at this time. If one follows the traces, one arrives at powder clouds in yellow, pink, blue or red. And suddenly you realize that the fairground can be a workplace during winters as well: for those who are busy grinding the paint off the colorful lampposts. And while you’re still wondering what all this is for, you notice that the light poles that have been sanded down have already worn many coatings. So, maybe it is time to remove these layers and paint the poles uniformly in military green. Judging by this, the tracks lead to the new and freshly painted street lamps. Standing there, you raise your eyes and begin to imagine an attraction that might take place here at another time. And things get a bit more colorful again…The attractions that we have imagined are written down on post-its, and stuck to the places that have been shut down. If a person comes by and reads what is on them, they might have a ride on the merry-go-round in their head:

A tourist orders pork knuckle with cabbage for 13.50 EUR. The holiday trainee at Gelateria Ponticella looks at his watch and is delighted that he has to work for only one more hour. On this spot a defiant child stamps its foot. This is where a long impatient queue is. A group of young people chat about how they have never seen the movie “Wild Mouse”. Here, two cars are chasing each other back and forth. Over here, the second round is announced. This is where a squirrel scurries up the tree. A pigeon approaches the leftover fries that are scattered on the ground. Someone covers the display of the “Combo-Boxer” with a piece of paper that says “Currently out of order”.

The Vienna Wurstelprater seems to be almost devoid of life–a ghost town. Is this due to the Corona situation, or is it typical for the winterseason? Everything is at complete rest –silence – nothing is happening. The attractions appear like frozen objects. You automatically start searching for a different kind of attraction, look for movement, entertainment… After passing by several times, we suddenly discover colorful spots on the ground. Scattered footprints lead away from the scene. A mystery arises in our minds –a conversation? We create our own attraction in the Prater and try to solve the mystery of the stains. Discovery: They are paint chips, not stains! The paint comes from the street lampsthat have been sanded off. But why? We speculate, ponder theories, ask passers-by and staff, until we finally see the painters in action. The solution to the mystery: The lanterns are being freshly painted in a different color: Why are the lanterns repainted? Once they were colorful like the rest of the Prater – did they become too colorful, too distracting, or was it simply too much work to repaint them in various colors?