Not only for times when you cannot experience the exhibition Having Lived. Ingeborg Strobl live: a small sample from our mumok APP.
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Ingeborg Strobl, Alpine landscapes and the Rumex Alpinus
Alpine pastures connote a whole cosmos of meanings and associations. They stand for life in tune with nature and tradition, somehow outside of the rest of society. Countless folk songs tell of and idealize life in the Alps. The dairymen and women who live there in the summer are not just cowherds but rather mythical figures representing freedom and independence. For Austria, the Alpine pastures are especially important—today mountain huts that were traditionally closed for the winter are used by tourists for skiing.
The Alpine pastures are actually cultural landscapes. Without human management of these mountain meadows their vegetation changes. When huts and stalls have been abandoned, Alpine farming leaves its mark for decades to come—in the shape of a specific plant: “Rumex alpinus,” or Alpine dock.
This plant grows in hollows fertilized over many years by cattle slurry around the farmer’s huts, the cattle stalls, and camps. It does not have many friends and is often seen as the main problem plant in the green management of the Alps.
This is what an academic text on managing the Alpine meadows has to say: “The many unflattering slang words for this plant show how unpopular it is. It is clearly seen as a weed in today’s pasture management. This is a very hardy plant that grows to over a meter high and has large leaves that cast shade onto the ground. It generally outgrows the rest of the vegetation, and its initially yellowish and later red-brown seed heads often shape the image of our meadows and pastures.”
Austrian artist Ingeborg Strobl has taken a very close look at the periphery of our civilization. Her 2017 installation “Rumex Alpinus” (Alpine dock) is evidence of her interest in domesticated animals, and particularly cows. She in no way romanticizes the cultural landscape of the Alpine pastures, and she shows processes that are inextricably linked with these spaces but do not meet the clichés of tourism.