Book look: Helmut Schneider

“Dosen abfüllen können andere billiger” is a collection of interviews with Michael Häupl, the mayor of Vienna. Häupl – considered by many as Austria’s most powerful social democrat, is known for his openness in interviews, conversations and speeches.
Häupl became mayor of the capital city in 1994. He surprised many political analysts, experts and commentators when he started a coalition with the Green Party after the city parliament elections of 2010. Despite some battlefields like parking issues, questions concerning cycling and traffic around Mariahilfer Street, Vienna’s most popular shopping area, Häupl and Maria Vassilakou managed to convince most of their respectable critics. Boulevard media might continue bashing the Viennese partnership and speculate about an early collapse of the coalition, but Häupl seems determined to soldier on.

“Dosen abfüllen können andere billiger” offers a taste of his general education and cleverness. Thanks to several excellent interviews conducted by Raimund Löw, Peter Pelinka and others, Helmut Schneider’s new book makes very clear that conversations with Häupl are never a dull affair.

Dosen abfüllen können andere billiger
By Helmut Schneider
Published by Echomedia Buchverlag (

Disturbing art at the Kunsthalle Wien

A new exhibition has opened at one of Vienna’s most important museums.

“Salon der Angst” deals with the feeling of fear in many ways. Kunsthalle Wien director Nicolaus Schafhausen und Catherine Hug, who organised the exhibit, apparently tried to avoid putting works by famous artists on display to help visitors focus on the subject. In “Salon der Angst”, this happens in a more complex way than many probably expected.

There is no “Scream” by Edward Munch and no paintings by Gottfried Helnwein. However, the exhibition includes drawings by children, various short films and an installation featuring Margret 1Thatcher. There are film stills of the late British prime minister on a big screen and one of her speeches played in permanent repeat mode. Furthermore, there are sounds and photographs from a performance of classical music at a junk shop in Spanish Harlem, New York. Another photographic series consists of images taken in Warsaw and Chicago. Photos taken on Viennese streets and at the Austrian capital’s underground stations are also on display as part of “Salon der Angst”.

After reorganising the entrance area and presenting a new logo featuring an eagle, now it is finally up to the Kunsthalle Wien’s visitors to feel the fresh breeze of creativity. It appears as if Schafhausen is not shying away from controversies by composing “Salon der Angst” in the way he and Hug did. Austrian culture journalists criticised his first exhibition as too random and for failing to have a certain message – but isn’t this kind of uncertainty and the courage to leave decisive questions unanswered what fear is all about?


Book look travel special: Hamburg

A glamorous city, a centre of subculture, an intercultural melting pot – all of this is Hamburg. The northern German city still fascinates thanks to its picturesque city centre, its bustling markets and legendary nightlife hotspots like St. Pauli. While more and more residents are worried about exorbitant living costs, tourists enjoy the city’s manifold cultural offerings such as its various museums.SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

The Hamburger Kunsthalle (www. should be on top of the list of every traveller’s list. The institution – located right next to the main station – currently hosts an excellent exhibition featuring Danish painters active between 1880 and the first half of the 20th century, while brilliant works by Emil Nolde, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and many more are on display as part of its permanent gallery.

Ralf Groschwitz’ travel guide, now out by Dumont, is a reliable navigator through the city – from the architecturally impressive achievements at the new HafenCity quarter to affordable places to shop and dine. Sabine Spatzek wrote a travel guide for Schleswig-Holstein, including detailed reports about cities like Lübeck and Flensburg.

Dumont direkt Hamburg
By Ralf Groschwitz
Published by Dumont (

Marco Polo: Ostseeküste, Schleswig-Holstein
By Sabine Spatzek
Published by Marco Polo (

The Austrian Culture Channel can recommend the Lindner am Michel Hotel (, situated just across the street from Str. Michaelis, Hamburg’s most famous church. The four-star hotel is the ideal starting point for a stroll through the port or towards the ancient city centre. The next station is just a few minutes’ walk away. From there, a direct train service to Hamburg Airport is on offer – except on days like last Sunday when a shutdown of the connection due to maintenance works enforced to change twice.

Book look: MAK

“Eastern Promises” is the title of a catalogue published to accompany an exhibit of the same name. The exhibition, which was on display at Vienna’s Museum for Applied Arts (Museum für angewandte Kunst, MAK, from June to early October, informed about contemporary architecture in East Asia.

The catalogue – which is still on sale at the museum’s gift shop and online ( – offers a vast amount of information and dozens of photographs. Those interested in the topic should buy the book to soak up all the news.
The subject of living in big cities in China, South Korea and other countries of the region is complex and comprehensive. The exhibit’s curators did not try to disguise this fact. Their creation – staged at one of Vienna’s most vibrant museums – included a hardly digestible but impressive range of figures and essays. The catalogue enables fans of the exhibit to sit down and study it all once again and whenever they want. It features texts by Julian Worrall, Jun Jiang and others but also several statistics, building plans and graphics.

All contributors examine aspects like solutions for public space, pollution, efficiency in living, rising traffic levels and recycling. The usage of different materials and public art projects are in the focus too. Overall, “Eastern Promises” is as remarkable as the exhibition – and it contains a few surprises such as a highly unusual tree house.

Eastern Promises
By Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Andreas Fogarasi and Christian Teckert
Published by Hatje Cantz (

Book look: Food adventures, grammar guidance and an art theft thriller

Patrik Stäbler loves food. He explains that it triggers feelings of ultimate joy and 1fulfilment. However, he also realised that his skills were limited when it comes to cooking. This reduced his knowledge of meals remarkably. So the author decided to travel through Germany to get to know traditional dishes from all of his home country’s regions. Stäbler did not focus on well-known dishes like bratwurst and sauerkraut. During his trip, he tasted food with strange names such as Schnüsch, Oberlausitzer Teichelmanke and Knieperkohl. His book takes readers on a funny journey all across Germany. Mahlzeit!

Speisende soll man nicht aufhalten
By Patrik Stäbler
Published by rororo / Rowohlt (

Learning French can be tough, but a new grammar guide released by a German publishing house offers some help. “Französisch Grammatik” by Regina Lübke – now out by Bassermann – explains everything about the usage of direct and indirect speech, tenses and the correct formulation of questions. The book also contains information concerning prepositions and pronunciation rules. On 270 pages, no relevant fact about the language is ignored.

Französisch Grammatik
By Regina Lübke
Published by Bassermann (

Gmeiner does not just offer books. The latest release of the publishing house – a specialist for crime novels – is an exciting card game. Up to four players can participate in “Millionenraub”, a game about an art theft in a museum. The players have to find out who pilfered the most precious object on display at the gallery. None of the visitors are allowed to leave the premises while the players try to catch the culprit. “Millionenraub” promises a lot of fun and thrilling entertainment – as do the Gmeiner crime novels such as “Lenauwahn” by Hermann Bauer. The book follows Bauer’s releases “Philisophenpunsch” (2011) and “Nestroyjux” from last year. All of his stories take place in Vienna where he grew up and still lives. Bauer’s novels are popular due to their colourful characters and cleverly arranged plots.

By Inka and Markus Brand
Published by Gmeiner (

Book look: Poschardt on Porsche, Precht’s peaks and pensive pilots

German journalist and philosopher Ulf Poschardt Titel_2D.inddhas dedicated his new book to one of the most legendary cars in the world: the Porsche 911. In the 300-page publication, Poschardt analyses whether owning the car is still a status symbol. Furthermore, he investigates whether people who drive it are mostly arrogant managers or rather left-wing intellectuals. In his book – which features several black and white photographs of the famous vehicle – Poschardt underlines the importance of the Porsche 911 in pop culture and as far as political and sociological issues are concerned. Ferry Porsche, who designed the car, once said: “I wasn’t able to invent the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself.”

By Ulf Poschardt
Published by Klett-Cotta (

Albert Precht is one of Austria’s most experienced climbers. Over the past 40 years, the Bischofshofen-born climbing expert and ski tour guide conquered more than 1,000 peaks. Precht – whose autobiography “Tausend und ein Weg” was released in 2003 – did not stay in his home province Salzburg, he travelled to Greece, Jordan, South Africa and many other countries where he made astounding experiences. Now the 66-year-old wrote a book about his adventures. “Nach oben. Nach oben. Nach Oben.” not only includes compelling reports, the book also features fascinating pictures. In his texts, Precht portrays his companions as well as people he met during his journeys. His articles tell from technical challenges and difficulties caused by extreme weather conditions. Legendary climber Reinhold Messner praises Precht for “proving that climbing can still be an adventure”.

Nach oben. Nach oben. Nach oben.
By Albert Precht
Published by Verlag Anton Pustet (

His idea is truly unusual and extravagant: creating a book full of newspaper cuttings showing racing car drivers lost in thought. The new book by Max Küng, a Swiss journalist, includes photographs of Nigel Mansell, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve and many others. Most of the represented drivers competed in the Formula One. The images show them thinking about what went wrong after an accident and a bad performance in a training session. Some images still feature comments explaining why the drivers are in a bad mood. However, Küng mostly got rid of them to let the photographs do the talking. Asked by magazine profil what racing drivers think about, he said: “’Does my wife betray me? If so, who with? Is my tax declaration without fault? Is my money hidden well enough in Switzerland? Is my lawyer the best in the world?’” Küng dismisses claims that the Formula One is just a big party with no danger at all nowadays, but he stresses that “mortal danger was an essential part of it in the old days”. Speaking to profil, Küng mentions a statement from a movie: “’Drive too slowly and you’ll lose. Drive too fast and you’ll die.’”

Pensive Racing Drivers – Nachdenkliche Rennfahrer
By Max Küng
Published by Edition Patrick Frey (

A few more questions for… Heinz Stephan Tesarek

This is the second part of the Austrian Culture Channel interview with Heinz Stephan Tesarek, an Austrian photographer whose pictures have been printed by renowned publications such as Der Spiegel and the New York Times. His book “Zwischenzeit. Bilder entscheidender Jahre” (Interim. Pictures of decisive years) balances between images showing extreme poverty and despair and photographs reflecting reckless richness.

Did you release your book (“Zwischenzeit. Bilder entscheidender Jahre” / Interim. Pictures of decisive years) on your own, without the support of a publishing house? If so, how did that work – and how are the sales?

The reason for self-publishing the book was to be fully responsible for its content. Self-publishing the book was like signing it to me. If this book ever will be published again, this first edition guarantees the independence of its content. Now, having the book published, I am finding myself confronted with a strange, new task: Trying to sell something, I just wanted to put to discourse.

Is photographic art represented sufficiently in Austria? Vienna’s Westlicht and Ostlicht galleries are well known, but – apart from those two venues – there are no other big places where photographs are on display on a regular basis.

I don’t know, maybe. The gallery business is a strange land to me.

Are you just working as a freelancer, or are you also on contract with some magazine as your images appear quite often in (Austrian weekly) News?

For more than 15 years, News is one of my main clients. They assign me mostly with foreign politics stories, which is the focus of my work. However, I am a freelancer, and my clients include a variety of newspapers and magazines, but also corporations and individuals.

Is it possible to make a living by being a photographer in Austria?

I’ve been asked this questions ever since. Yes it is.

Newspapers editors and media company owners are resetting their focus from print to online due to dwindling sales and advertisement earnings. Do you think that photographs are getting more important in connection with news on the internet – or are the changes in the media business of harm to images and those who took them?

Pictures will be important, photographers not necessarily. Only on the first view a contradiction…

What is your opinion on today’s developments of almost everyone taking pictures everywhere and all the time with their smartphones? Do you think ‘real’ photo art suffers because of that?

Recently I found myself, not being able to find out if the pictures of a story on a major photo agencies website were the result of algorithm or talent. Algorithm kills talent. Not only in photography.

Is there a decisive moment in history you would have wished to be present to take pictures?

There is no time in history, which I would find more interesting to cover than ours. If I could travel through time, I’d like to shoot the same book as I did now, but starting 1925.

As a photographer, do you have an idol?
There are many artists, whose work I find inspiring. Some of them are photographers, others are moviemakers, painters or journalists…

Is there a certain person in the world you would like to spend a few hours with – to portray him/her in a setting of your choice?

US-dissident Edward Snowden, maybe. He is a bit pale, though.

There are so many kinds of photographic assignments – taking pictures for book projects, newspapers and magazines / red carpet shots / artistic and fashion photography. Which activity do you like the most – and which one do you despise?

I value every job I am assigned for. No matter, if it is a story in a crises area or a high-class wedding. As long as my work serves a good purpose, I am fine. But I despise, when my images are used to illustrate words, describing what I never witnessed.

Stamina, patience, intuition for the right moment, talent, readiness to compete with others – what’s most important to become a successful photographer these days?

Healthy, editorially driven newspapers and magazines.