Exhibition project

Bivacco Günther Messner, 1972 (Photo: Oswald Trenkwalder)

2019 marks the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, when Tyrol was divided in two. As a result of it, South Tyrol and Trentino have been incorporated into the Italian State, In remembrance, ArtinTheAlps Association will be presenting the Bivacco project to an international audience during the 58th Venice Biennale, based on an idea by the artist Hannes Egger.

As a tangiblel manifestation of an ideal and large Alpine shelter, this original, old mountain bivouac represents an open, cross-border and safe space in which – as in South Tyrol itself – the European ideals of peace and coexistence are practised and promoted on a daily basis.


South Tyrol, situated in the centre of the Alps, south of the main Alpine ridge, has always been a border and transit country. The mountains, often perceived as a barrier, have been crossed for centuries and have always been an important hinge between northern and southern Europe. Instead of being a land of borders and divisions, this area has always been a place of intensive trade, social and cultural contacts, as a matter of fact, today it is more multilingual and multicultural than ever before.


Bivouacs are small emergency high mountain shelters , which always need to be open in order to fulfil their vital function, in order to guarantee access to all those seeking protection in every situation. Their difficult accessibility is a characteristic element of their mythological-alpinistic appeal. The original bivouac on display is not only closely related to alpine morphology, but also wants to be an allegory of South Tyrol, the land of transit and exchange, as well as a place to welcome people and overcome borders. „Bivacco“ represents a small Europe in these restless times, of rediscovering nationalisms, a Europe that is questioning itself about its future.

The emergency accommodation, chosen for its emblematic and evocative function, was provided by the famous mountain climber Reinhold Messner. As part of his collection this bivouac is normally exhibited at the Messner Mountain Museum in Sulden. This bivouac shown in San Servolo is named after Günther Messner, Reinhold’s brother, who tragically died in 1970 when he climbed the Nanga Parbat.

The artists* Jacopo Candotti, Nicolò Degiorgis, Hannes Egger, Julia Frank, Simon Perathoner, Leander Schönweger and Maria Walcher take part in the project conceived by Hannes Egger and curated by Christiane Rekade. Their works, which are closely linked to the vision and concept of the transition place , will be shown in the bivouac.

The basic curatorial decision is based on the idea that the artists* work on two levels of the concept of „Bivacco“. The first level is the „physical“ one, with works that interact with the architecture, materials, function and (limited) space of the bivouac. The works are created by reacting and interacting with the material structure of this refuge to complete or redefine its materiality. The second level is the „metaphorical“ one, i.e. the one that deals with the meaning of the „Bivacco“ as a place of protection, passage, reception, exchange and overcoming borders.

A catalogue with texts by Roberto De Martin, Hannes Egger, Hannes Obermair, Maxi Obexer and Christiane Rekade as well as Patrizia Spadafora completes the artistic project.

„Bivacco“ were shown from 11 May 2019 to 30 September 2019 in the large and magnificent garden on the island of San Servolo (Venice – Italy). The island can be reached from San Marco (San Zaccaria) by boat no. 20 (Vaporetto), www.servizimetropolitani.ve.it. The installation can always be visited, every day, at any time.