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The title of this year's symposium should, of course, be read as a sentence, as a maxim countering the general mood of crisis with an optimistic programme . But it can als be read as a sequence of big and meaningful words. Both ways of reading it can be applied to this year's symposium and seen to influence forms and contents. 2009 is certainly so far the wettest in the history of the symposia. It rained steadily, save for a few hours, and the temperature stayed around 13 degrees. This, for this time of year, rather unexpected weather posed a challenge to sculptors and organisers alike. The artists had to work in drenched clothes, stand in puddles and apply wet tools to wet, slippery surfaces. Next to the usual workload that arises at the start of each symposium, the organisers had to procure eleven canopies that could hold off wind and rain. The situation took a heavy toll and the unfavorable climate cast a damp over the symposium. But as soon as everybody had a roof over their head and news came in about the devastation suffered elsewhere in Austria, we realised that save for some "shitty weather", nothing bad had befallen us, and the mood lifted. The cheerfulness lingered. This was probably due to the fine characters of all involved, the high quality of the sculptures that started to show, the gracious evening events and an astonishingly large stream of visitors. Despite the awul weather, the symposium was well-attended. Particularly the last couple of days attracted hundreds of visitors, who braved the rain and partied with us till late. Such an enthustiastic and loyal public, which for the larger part is not made up of locals but of visitors from all over, fills us with joy and also a little pride.

The results of the symposium 2009 have been widely considered as particularly successful. The sculptures are said to have spirit and thoughtfulness and are idealy presented on the grounds: large, coarsely-worked objects, partly referring to strict, philosophical principles, partly entering into dialogue with the "man of sorrows" tradition, stand next to blue, poetic-looking flowers and colourful, branchy fantasy plants. Esthetically elaborate and complex forms of classic wood sculpture meet classical carpentry in the service of artistic expression. Gravity meets lightness, old meets new, tradition meets innovation, nature meets art, spirit meets matter, severity meets humour and ten participants from six nations meet each other. So diverse, so multi-layered, so filled with wonderful fantasy and mastery. What is left are the artworks. What we take with us is the courage to believe in a great, two-year future of the symposium despite the hard times. We will work towards a tenth and final sculpture symposium in Maria Saal in 2011 and the realisation of a traffic-free link between the dome and the open-air museum via the "Klosterkögel". The project will not founder on art, man or courage. And if it is true that might makes right, then a much-longed-for wish by many people in Maria Saal will be met. With the help of sculptors.

See the sculptures here.

Mag. Heinz Ch. Hammerschlag, Organisator,
Maria Saal, 2009


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