Parent-Baby Centre / Perinatal Centre, 2010
Salzburg Provincial Hospital

Maria Hahnenkamp has created an artwork for the newly built Perinatal Centre (Schwarzenbacher Architektur ZT GmbH ) of Salzburg Provincial Hospital that aims to provide a sensory and conceptual sounding board for the individual experiences of patients, visitors and medical staff. Greatly enlarged ornamental lines are rendered on one wall on each of three floors, running a length of roughly twelve metres. Painted with the aid of foil stencils and affixed with adhesive foil, the stylised creepers and climbers run wild from the floor to the ceiling, not only occupying the wall surfaces, but also the door frames, doors, fittings and switches dividing them. The architectural, functional layer is fronted, as it were, by an aesthetic layer.

Approaching the walls, it becomes clear that some of the painted or glued lines have lines of writing integrated in them, following the sweeping lines of the plant ornament. On the ground floor, housing the General Gynaecology Outpatients Department, for example, there is a quotation of the French psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray: “As for woman, she is place. Does she have to locate herself in bigger and bigger places?” On the top two floors, where the Tocolytics and Neonatology departments are located, early childhood development and the relationship of the newborn child to its mother is the focal theme: “Like the patterns of a fabric, early childhood experiences are recorded and live on in the unconscious, as ‘experience in emotion’.” (Gertraud Diem-Wille)

The textual references to “woman as place”, as an enclosure whose boundaries nevertheless remain open, on the one hand, and the infant as a being whose feelings are communicated to a great extent via the skin, on the other, constitute clear references to the functions of the various floors. What is more, the quotations can also be related to the ornament itself, that nestles against the wall as a “place within a place”, forming a kind of membrane – a boundary that is permeable like the skin. As such, every time an integrated door opens, the ornamental pattern is disrupted, thus intertwining with the day-to-day procedures that define the routine of the perinatal centre.

Manuela Ammer

Manuela Ammer is a curator at mumok Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien. Until March 2014 she was research fellow at Collaborative Research Centre 626 “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits” at Freie Universität Berlin, where she was working on a research project on the concept of the subject in minimal art. She has written pieces for magazines such as Frieze, Texte zur Kunst and Parkett and numerous catalogue texts on contemporary art.

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