---- The first train ride there was with Adrien, Larry, and Antoine. It was March of 2020. On the verge of being bitter with some sunshine. The pandemic was just around the corner, somewhere between the Italian border, Wuhan and the US. We sat in a cabin, Larri and I passed a drum machine back and forth. Antoine occasionally pointed out the window at meadows. Nazi details on top of hills. Mountains scraping clouds. Bookended factories. The occasional congregation of livestock punctuated by French interludes to Adrien. He also described some paintings he made as a teenager and the written history of the Graz flour mill in-between snacks. (24*)

-------------About a year earlier, Antoine invited me to take part in the project. He carries a look of distress around his eyes that makes me happy and argues with himself out loud. He's quiet in his approval but loud with time and support. He doesn't often say he likes something directly. Except for food. He's more Leve than Levi and plays the French card while smiling, but probably because he sees just how much I enjoy the performance. It encourages me to ratchet up my neurotic Jew schtick. At the midsection of the project, I tell him I think he should start a school because it feels true.

--------------------------After I'd been at the Rösselmühle for a couple of days, dragging cables around in pigeon shit and flour, a student who was installing in the room next to mine showed up. It was already night, we'd spent some hours around a table in the driveway drinking beers, exchanging looks and ideas in the dark. Before any introduction I approached him and flexed my aging, flabby muscles. I had heard his work would be loud. Which was a problem because my work would also be loud, but also a little quiet.  I then tried my best intimidation tactics by letting him know that my quietness took priority over his loudness. I was clever enough to not say it was a simple matter of rank though. That I had been at it longer and was invited to show off my super awesome artwork. The next morning I tracked him down and apologized. His eyes mostly seemed to hold pity, then we talked for a while about Brancusi, surrealism and the joy of objects that store their own text. His work turned out great, reanimating the gears of the mill, it barely made any sound. And when it did, the harmonics of the machinery wove into the space and seemed to glue the show together.

---------------------------------------------------------I find myself cringing when I use the word 'student'. Language drags like a slow, rolling model. It seems like, at its best, art can be faster than language. More slippery to the touch. Representation’s been speeding up though. Countless new nomenclatures have been adopted, our spoken and visual world seems to be in bloom. Plural, behind facemasks, across land masses. Even while writing this paragraph, I still don't have a good shorthand that helps to cut away at the power dynamic of 'student'. A word that embodies a desire for change. Recognizes modelling as just another aspect of teacher and student circuitry. (33)

--------------------------------------------------- It seems typical of my generation to have spent a large portion of their adolescence telling their Boomer parents that they’re assholes. That they’ve given us an impossible world full of inequity and waste. That they’re racist and classist. That it’s their fault we’re consumers instead of citizens. I recognize that I’m also an asshole, just with a different shape.

------------------I already see this repeating with my son. At seven, he doesn’t quite have the words or experience beyond our family cult to say it, but he performs it. When he comes back from friends’ houses, their parents seem to be describing a somewhat different person. Someone who’s eager to eat anything put in front of him, compliment their efforts and then offer to do the dishes, and maybe even apply for a job. It’s probably just a matter of social survival and differentiation. I find myself doing the same reversals. With immediate family, my love is mixed with the ability to act like a frustrated teenager. To use them as a mirror for expressing what I’m feeling when I’m comfortable enough to break character and rank.

------------------------ With my teaching practice I’d like to create a space that’s close to this. A space where we can drop whatever professional politeness is in between us and understanding each other on a deeper and more honest level. I'd be naive to say hierarchy didn't exist at Oeverwerk. My hope is that we worked to soften it though. Maybe it's a fantasy. One I hope can be carried around after the fact. A rolling model that changes hands and voices with each generation, each participant, each witness.

----------------One sunny afternoon while leaning against a dumpster, Ton, the professor of our department told me he wasn’t sure about where he fit into the project because of his age. I thought this was exciting. Not because he expressed doubt or didn’t feel good lifting heavy things anymore but that he could relax in his role as a community elder. Just wander around the flour mill and hang out, absorb and relay experiences. Later that same day, my partner Claus got stuck at the gates of the compound without a key. She saw Ton heading toward her with a small, rolling suitcase in tow. She tried to wave him down, thinking because of his title within the project he’d for sure have the key. He jogged past her, said he had to go and that she should follow him, then hopped a fence to the side of the entrance. After watching this from across the parking lot, I made my way over to Claus. We then stood at the gates together, quietly listening to the sound of his suitcase rolling into the distance, locked inside of our own show.  



A very special thanks to the whole crew:
Lea Bammer, Florian Berger, Costanza Brandizzi, Tomiris Dmitrievskikh, Anne Faucheret, Teresa Fellinger, Elisabeth Fiedler, Chaz Gervais, Julia Hartig, Leon Höllhumer, Anne Juren, Anousheh Kehar, Michael Köbler, Edgar Lessig,  Juliana Lindenhofer, Pepi Maier, Ton Matton, Verena Matz, Carina Mayr, Pia Mayrwöger, Larissa Meyer, Celeste Montales, Philip Pess, Georg Petermichl, Karolina Preuschl, Liesl Raff, Raumarbeiter_innen (Simone Barlian, Theresa Muhl, Sophie Netzer, Kerstin Reyer) Peter Rom, Philipp Sattler, Franziska Schink, Dubravka Sekulić, Barbara Seyerl, Sabina Švigelj, Vahdeta Tahirovic, Kiky Thomanek, Alexander Till, Adrien Tirtiaux, Franz Treichler, Antoine Turillon, Christine Westreicher, Anna Witt

* In an earlier version of the accompanying book, there was an image from the living quarters of Rösselmühle of a plate with a small Nazi emblem on it. The image was ultimately edited out, and I’d like to use this footnote to bring it back into visibility. The specter of National Socialism hangs like a cloud over most Austrian establishments that predate WWII, and although predictable, when I was staying at the mill and saw the plate in the kitchen, my stomach dropped.