Three counters in the Karmelitermarkt square
Global recovery by a single mode of production (capitalism) has made governing bodies generally consider public space "active" when commerce is part of the equation. In a sense, public space (like private space) is not evaluated relative to its use-value but rather according to its power to enable commercial exchange.
The pandemic significantly reinforces this assertion for two reasons:
• Firstly, outdoor interactions present a lesser risk of contagion.
• Secondly, when most traditional social contracts integrate the presumption of innocence as a foundation, the new conditions we are under present a rupture of this very concept: we are under the presumption of illness.
As a consequence, we face a contradictory injunction: leave the domestic sphere but stay hyper-vigilant. This paranoid state equates to the complete internalisation of capitalist relations. While Vienna is famous for the care given to public space in its most touristic areas (generating a profit for the city), we propose to act on two types of spaces:
• Public spaces which were historically bound to commerce, like markets and storefronts.
• Public spaces that have had little to no investment and where commerce has sometimes emerged organically, often in its underground form.
Our project consists of outdoor furniture covered with marks every 20 cm. While they could serve as an objective measure of social distance, we leave their use to the users' discretion. We do not doubt that public space is successful when hosting a combination of use and misuse, not entirely conditional to firm ownership, and where habits can form. Caring could be one of them.
• Kamerlitermarkt square hosts the market and a few local businesses. The pandemic rules restrict indoor on-site consumption.
• We propose to build three counters on Krummbaumgasse as a free-to-use open-air extension of the neighbouring shops. The three counters (l = 200 cm, w = 60cm, h = 105cm) are built out of concrete and anchored to the ground with a steel frame (h = 5 cm).
Photographic backplates: Nicole Maria Winkler