Gabriele Fender is a museum guide at Schloss Moosham and resident for Studio Klampisan, born 1962 in Mühldorf/D , lives in Moosham/Unternberg in Lungau.
“And now I am here.”
What was your career like?
It’s not all that exciting. I was born in Bavaria, in Mühldorf am Inn, and then moved to Munich when I was 19, worked there and met my then husband through friends. He was a Chinese Indonesian and did his medical training in Hamburg. When that time was over, he would have liked to go back to Indonesia. In the meantime, I went there on holiday a couple of times and loved it and thought it was a great idea to go there with him. I felt very comfortable there over the years and have 3 children from that time. I didn’t work during that time because I was at home with the children, but I did a lot of social work for the bridge. The Brücke is a meeting of German women, mostly Expads, who come there for a while. We organised Christmas markets, garage sales, meetings and once a month we had a meeting place in the hotel, I worked in the organisation. In 2003, my husband fell ill and we flew to Germany, where he was operated on. It took more than 3 years, and we always had the feeling that he had survived the cancer, and then we came back to Indonesia. He died in 2007. Then I thought about staying in Indonesia and heard by chance that the Austrian embassy was looking for someone to work in the visa department, but only for half a year.
I introduced myself and then worked there for half a year. Then the question was whether I would go back to Germany, but my children didn’t really want to go to Germany. But as luck would have it, the German Embassy in Jakarta was looking for someone to work in the visa department and they called me to see if I could imagine doing that, so I applied and stayed at the German Embassy for 8 years. After my little son also moved out because he started studying in Indonesia in another city, I thought about whether I would stay forever or go back to Germany. Then I let fate decide and wrote applications for airport staff to Frankfurt and Munich. Munich said they’d take me and then I said, well then I’ll come and quit my job, broke up my flat and travelled to
Germany. Then I spent a year at Munich airport and met my current partner, who has lived here in Lungau for 25 years and is a dentist in Rennweg. Yes, and now I’m here and have been working at Schloss Moosham for three years.
You work in the castle as a museum guide?
Yes, I enjoy it very much and I really like doing it. The castle was first mentioned in 1191 and Count Nepomuk, the Wilczeks, the current owners, bought it in 1886. In the summer, there are always 5 guided tours a day, so there are usually 3 or 4 tours, and in the winter, when I’m only marginally employed, there are only 2 tours a day and I tell the visitors something about the castle.
As a newcomer, how do you see the culture of the Lungau?
It’s not that different from Bavaria. Although, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but in Lungau people, especially my generation, are very inaccessible to strangers they don’t know. They have their clique and they stick to it. The younger generation is much more open. I don’t know this from Indonesia, where the foreigners don’t know anyone either and are happy when they meet someone.
Are you active in associations here in Lungau?
No, because I can’t find a club that suits me. I can’t make music and I can’t sing, I don’t enjoy handicrafts and things like that and then it gets difficult and why should I go to handicrafts just to meet people, that’s not me.
What do you feel is the great cultural asset of Lungau?
Well, customs are very important here. There are many traditional events in the Lungau, traditional costume events, fire brigade events and a lot still happens here in the community.
Where do you think the situation of art in Lungau is?
It depends on what kind of art you mean. We do classical concerts ourselves from time to time here in the house, over in the living room, and there are a few people who always come, but there are not so many people who love classical music. What is very popular and in demand is the traditional music from here. There’s also theatre in Maria Pfarr over there, that’s great, they put on events every year, I’m always there and I think that’s really great. Art exhibitions are more over in Gmünden, in Carinthia. There are sometimes things here, but not so much, but maybe I don’t know.
How was the supergau publicised and how did you get involved in the supergau?
To be honest, I wouldn’t have known about the super accident from the newspaper. I found out earlier because I met the two Indonesians by chance. It was when they were here for the first time, I had just finished the guided tour of the castle, I came out of the castle and the two of them walked past and asked me something in English. I answered and then the girl spoke to the man in Indonesian, I asked them if they were from Indonesia and invited them for a coffee and that’s how I knew. Anna from Supergau then contacted me and was also here and we talked about it. I said it would be no problem and I could do the translation. We kept in touch with the artists by phone and three weeks before the performance they sent me the documents and I translated them.
So you accompany the group of artists at the festival and the performances?
No, I only accompany 3 performances, the one in Tamsweg, one here in Moosham Castle and the one today in St. Michael. What they say at the performances I translate into German and in Schloss Moosham I read out a report like this, which wasn’t quite mine, reading down a whole page. I think it’s nicer when they say something and then you translate it. People are not so focused when you read down a whole page.
How would you explain Studio Klampisan’s art project to an outsider?
It’s actually about the landscape of Indonesia and also a bit about culture. In Tamsweg, for example, they also wanted to do something with smoking. In Austria not so many people smoke and they wanted to present their cigarette tobacco with cloves, which is also a very big industry in Indonesia because people still smoke a lot there. Then they presented the landscape with its hills and in Moosham Castle it was almost all about the death mounds in Indonesia, because in the countryside people are often buried on death mounds. Then they talked about the fact that these mounds can also be bought. But what they forgot to say is that in Indonesia no foreigner is allowed to buy land, the Indonesians want to keep their land for themselves. For example, the Lawa Mountains, which are one of the largest in the world. Culture yes, but almost a little less, the landscape mainly.
How did you perceive the reaction of the visitors at the performances?
Actually very positive, especially today in St. Michael, also in Schloss Moosham. In Tamsweg there were two sides to it, because they had a coffin with them, and some people were bothered by the coffin. Yesterday I overheard that people said “Yes, but there are so many things, why do they have to do something about the dead”. Some found it interesting, some less so. They were also stopped by the police, I heard, when they took the coffin for a walk and someone called to say that people were walking through the streets with a dead body. I don’t really know why they took the coffin. In Europe, a coffin is not necessarily seen the way Indonesians see it. In Indonesia, no one would mind walking through the streets with a coffin, they wouldn’t care. When someone dies there, they also drive through the streets with cars in columns, the coffin car in front and everyone behind. The richer, the poor carry the coffin. It’s quite normal there, no one would call, someone walks through the streets with the body. But they have already arranged that with the police.
Have you already looked at other projects from the festival?
Unfortunately not at all. I’ve been working all the time, especially over Whitsun. But I still have plans, actually I want to go on the bus tour tomorrow, I think that’s when I’ll see the most.
Do you see the festival with its contemporary art as an enrichment for the people of Lungau?
I think it’s mixed. There are people who are really happy to have new, modern art, there are also people who say it doesn’t suit us at all, but that’s also more my generation, the younger ones are more open-minded. For me, it was already very interesting, also for the reason that I lived in Indonesia for so long.