atelier florian boehm
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< 71 lifes > . < 71 lives >

berchtoldvilla salzburg . march 15 - april 25 2019

on 26 August 2015 59 men, eight women and four children died in a refrigerated lorry from lack of oxygen. they were found on the following day at an emergency lay-by on an Austrian motorway (gps: 47°59’37 n, 16°49’56 e).


in his site-specific spatial & sound installation < 71 lives > on the first floor of the berchtoldvilla, florian boehm addresses life in that field of tension between the optimism of departure & abrupt endings, with parallels between human tragedy and apparent banality. the external trigger for this installation was the accidental death of 71 people who died in a refrigerated lorry in 2015.

the installation investigates the voicelessness of the individual and such diverse aspects as the courage to face life, cheerfulness & departure on the one hand and the defeat of hopes and desires on the other. it encompasses texts worked into multi-component light and sound sculptures, large-format charcoal & chalk drawings and ink paintings. for the sound sculpture actor werner friedl voices the people locked inside the refrigerated lorry.

language as crystallisation point

the work began in the late summer of 2018, with 22 typed texts within a short period, in which boehm allows the imprisoned victims to talk and relate their fate. this is followed by a radio commentary that takes as subject matter the truck's hermetically sealed tail lift, the signifier of the difference between perishing and an unsuspecting continuing-to-live.

elements of the installation

  • two large-format charcoal, graphite & chalk drawings on hahnemuehle paper, framed,

  • 71 indian ink drawings as part of the series < blut.ung > (“”), each 76x56cm, arches / fabriano paper, fixed with foldback clips on coat hangers

  • three two-channel sound installations, together with a film still forming a sound sculpture

  • 23 texts, each 31x21cm, typewriter on crownmill cotton paper

two large-format drawings

the four-part charcoal drawing representing warped wire coat hangers in the first room refers to the transitional moment in which a journey, voluntarily or involuntarily is undertaken & its violent end. 

the diptych charcoal & chalk drawing in the final room stands for a basic boundary post marking the end of a road, this particular post becoming significant in the circumstance of the lorry having been parked behind one such post.

light & sound sculptures

three two-channel recordings, two of which are played in parts of the reconstructed refrigerated body, the third with film still in the first room, bring the typewritten texts to life. these three are not synchronised, so that there is an ever-changing overlaying of sound. this may be understood, among other things as an image for the simultaneity of the interred people's speaking, and also the inefficacy of any clear sequence in time.

indian ink drawings

the 71 indian ink drawings hung on coat hangers are part of the series < blut.ung > ( or blood.young) created between december 2018 and february 2019 in preparation for the representational installation. they take as a departure point the physical qualities of blood (as lifeblood, or the products of its decomposition) and show the hugely varied shades that blood can assume. as part of the installation the drawings also stand, literally, for the individual people imprisoned in the refrigerated truck body and thus are vital pointers towards the spiritual aspects of life such as their wishes, hopes, dreams and longings and asks the visitor (the ‘survivor’, as it were) to address their own issues.

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< tunnel.blick >

air raid shelter at wals / austria . november 7 2018 - march 1 2019

elements of the installation

  • coloured lights

  • three digital two-channel films (loop) . duration 2‘22 . 5‘43 . 2‘28

films & texts : florian boehm

actresses :

  • magdalena braennland : rede an ein zwoelfjaehriges maedchen (“speech to a twelve year old girl”)

  • yinet rojas cardona : zaehlen (“counting”) and barbara m. macheiner : finde dich in deinem sein (“find yourself in your being”)

  • barbara m. macheiner : kindes uebermut (“infant’s exuberance”)


the spatial & sound installation < tunnel.blick > (“tunnel.view” / “tunnel vision”) came about following an invitation from the bachschmiede cultural centre at wals siezenheim and as part of the opening of the air raid shelter at wals. the installations are florian boehm’s continued work specific to place. < tunnel.blick > is concerned with the emotions stored in air raid shelters, transmuting the space through language, luminous colour and film into a cohesive experience. the films portray three women, whose fears & especially mental pain is heard as internal monologues. they also address the adventure that darkness represents and tests of courage.

despite the location of the air raid shelter under a graveyard & and the pervasive cool and damp, for florian boehm this type of place is imbued with an atmosphere similar to that of the womb. the installation unfolds across roughly 40 metres of winding tunnel interlaced with coloured lighting, the uniformly dark background against which the women stand and the sound of repeated counting. this sound conjures up myriad associations, from the gruelling wait inside the tunnel, through the people counting time and the duration of their need for shelter, to a harmless game of hide and seek: these are timeless preoccupations.

about the air raid shelter

the roughly 40 metre-long air raid shelter was excavated from the porous conglomerate rock under the church & graveyard of wals at the end of 1944 and was frequently in use as a bomb shelter during the second world war. after the war, it was a place of adventure and a cellar for storing vegetables.

the < tunnel.blick > series

the starting point of the < tunnel.blick. > series was the initial concept of the raum. & klang.installation in the wals air raid shelter and the subject area of ‘shapeshifting’ / metamorphosis.

the sheets have in common an initially rapid working of the interplay of image & language which is then elaborated on. they represent less the concrete than the generation of illusion and an inner luminosity. in content, boehm grapples above all with questions of perspective & and changing of shapes, questioning the ability, or will of people to change.

< ahnen.portraits > (ancestral portraits) are a sort of negative of the ancestral portrait and examine the continued existence of identity when the actual portrait has been removed or left out. they arose as a continuation of the tunnel.view project.

the photos of the air raid shelter were taken during preparation for the raum. & klang.installation. the luminosity of the coloured lighting allows a glimpse of various conditions of nature.


wandlungen des ich < 77ichs > . september 16 - october 15 2017

st margret’s chapel of st peter’s abbay . salzbourg


the site-specific spatial & sound installation << wandlungen des ich < 77ichs >> (“metamorphoses / transformations of being < 77 egos > / < 77 i’s >”) was made between 2015 and 2017 and addresses the topic of living and dying.  ‘dying’ is used here additionally in the sense of ‘letting go’. we are not talking about death. a central element is the poem < 77 i’s > written in early 2015, which talks about ego and the letting go of & from the ego, in both playful.serious language.

originally, the work was devised in an improvised garage wrested from the moenchsberg and cladded out in black. only later did the idea coalesce in connection with st margret’s chapel and its very special & remarkable late gothic ‘firmament’.

florian boehm's texts on life & its understanding, spoken by werner friedl, awaken the various emotional facets of the they invite the visitor to immerse himself in them & and to experience them on his own account. 

between two and three thousand visitors attended the, which was generously provided by archabbot korbinian birnbacher of the benedictine order and sponsored by land salzburg.

statement . question . play

it is not death that is signifi.cant : but dying . as a process .

how does boehm alight upon this theme ? death concerns us . life (living) concerns us . but the pair of opposites is wrongly cited : it should be ‘living and dying’ .

life implies dying just as dying implies living . living is actively done , dying is actively done . the act of coming into being at the start is however passive : being.born (or perhaps not : sperm actively flow towards the egg ). thus a gift to the one being.born : through its mother's pain . but of course the one being.born plays its im.portant part in the birth .

conception of the installation

  • temporary cladding of walls up to the bezel in black : a cloth that does not allow much light to pass

  • cross-ribs and vaults (the vaults of the heavens, or firmament) remain visible and give the space a framework

  • three coffins (or coffin lids) are positioned in the chapel for visitors to lie on

  • the poem < 77 i’s > is read by werner friedl & four more texts are played in the loop

  • video projection between ground and heavens conveys the space between the spheres

report in salzburger nachrichten of 12 october 2017 on the stage.[ing

this installation was kindly sponsored by land salzburg

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florian boehm wandlungen des ich - 77ichs - photo hubert auer _DSC0529_1.jpg

draft memorial to the salzburg book burning


drafted in 2017 in response to the city of salzburg's invitation to tender proposals for a memor.ial for the book burning

the draft envisaged a static element & an ephemeral, poetic, positive element and aimed to com.memorate on the one hand the historical and violent components (the act of burning itself) and on the other hand the after-effects, as well and remembrance today & and in the future .

the explanatory plaque was to read :

“ despite the BURNING of books, authors are ENLIGHTENED & teach young people about THOUGHTFULNESS & OPENNESS ”

( draft not implemented )

(c) photo credit background : franz krieger / with friendly permission of the city of salzburg’s archives