Search for damage: Otto Wesendonck checked the Aphrodite, but found no dents. Because of the risk of injury at low water levels, he also installed protective covers on screws and eyelets. The first shell is already set here. © Stefan Schweihofer
Bathers threw stones at the sculpture of Aphrodite by the sculptor Otto Wesendonck. Other works by Gmundart have also been damaged.
Gmund – For the first time, the artists of the Gmundart have also moved their exhibition outdoors: 15 sculptures have been on display in the sculpture park by and in the water for a good month. The artists were aware that they were taking a risk, says Priska Büttel, who is represented with four proofs at the Mangfall Bridge. But hardly anyone would have guessed that it would happen so quickly: At the end of May, a reader of the local newspaper observed how bathers threw stones at Otto Wesendonck's "Aphrodite". "It's outrageous," complains the nationally known sculptor. Other works have also been damaged.
Heidrun Weitzmann, who discovered the stone-throwers on Whit Monday, was similarly angry. "We have gone from the Mangfall Bridge to the sculpture that rotates in the lake," reports the Gmünder. With her husband, she saw a group of eight to ten bathers lying on the beach near the Gmünd lake promenade. Muffled noises were followed by the cry: "Oh, I scored." Not only the scattered beer bottles, but also the age of the stone-throwers annoyed her very much, Weitzmann describes. "They weren't half-strong, but adults between the ages of 20 and 45." She didn't dare to talk to the group. But other passers-by had expressed criticism – which the group did not care about. "I think it's disrespectful – to the object and to the artist," grumbles the 83-year-old. She would like to see more consideration.
Artist suspects lack of education
The artist himself, sculptor Otto Wesendonck from Waakirchen, is also annoyed: "Works of art should not be attacked with violence." After all, you can also choose other destinations. Wesendonck suspects a lack of education or hostility to art behind the crime. The artist does not believe in political reasons – "Aphrodite is a very emancipated sculpture".
However, explains the Bad Wiessee police when asked, the officers could, depending on the statement of the art, also investigate for hostility to the constitution. "We're in the area of property damage anyway." The police have not come across similar cases in recent times.
In the specific incident, however, the officials are not active: Neither Weitzmann nor Wesendonck have filed a complaint. The latter explains that damage is extremely unlikely, as the movement is made of stainless steel and bronze and is very robustly cast. Overall, he gets a lot of positive feedback. "The art is very much appreciated by the people." He could also imagine an extension of the exhibition, which has been approved until September. To this end, Wesendonck keeps the work in good shape: Most recently, he installed protective covers to cover visible eyelets and screws when the water level is low.
Further outdoor exhibition questionable
All the other artists also had a lot of work to do with the "giant action", Büttel reports. All the more annoying: The sign has been removed from their proofs and blue glass panes have been missing from a work by Kurt Gmeineder for some time, says Büttel. One of their factories in South Tyrol was even shot with an air rifle. "I take it sportily," explains the artist. "We have to reckon with people who lack respect and tolerance towards others."
However, it should be considered whether there will be another outdoor exhibition in Gmund. It is true that most artists have taken out insurance for their works, says Gmundart member Hans Weidinger. But, as Büttel adds: "Private individuals are also liable for many damages." nap
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