Critics’ Picks

“Greetings from Stowe, Vermont,” 2004.

Innsbruck

Michael Rakowitz

Kunstraum Innsbruck
Maria Theresien Str. 34, Arkadenhof
July 18, 2013–December 15, 2004

Innsbruck has plenty of tourist attractions of its own-it's a cozy Tyrolean city surrounded by the impressive panorama of the Austrian Alps—so why the hell should it need a “Stowe Inn”? Usually it is the whiff of the exotic that makes tourist sites appealing, but American artist Michael Rakowitz's exchange project imagines what happens when the native and the exotic merge to form a weird hybrid. The backstory begins in the 1930s, when a few pioneers—including the legendary Sepp Ruschp, who helped popularize skiing in the US, and, of course, those singing von Trapps—fled Nazi-controlled Austria and settled down in Stowe, Vermont, establishing an expatriate enclave around Mount Mansfield. As a result, a number of Austrian-style lodgings, such as the famous Innsbruck Inn, sprang up. Rakowitz reverses the direction of the cultural shift, transplanting his winter holiday memories back to their place of origin. At the Stadtturmgalerie, a 1:1 recreation of a typical American “Austrian” lodge—fully equipped with kitschy-rustic furniture, memorabilia, and souvenirs—awaits you, alongside documentation of the artist's interaction with the descendants of the people who made Stowe what it is today. The magic continues when you take advantage of the gallery's hospitality and settle down for a night at the inn. In bed, watching the nostalgic '60s musical on DVD, you might start to wonder if there exists, in fact, something like an indirect lineage between yourself and—yes—the protagonists of The Sound of Music.