Goodbye Franz-Josefs-Kai 3!

After seven years at Franz-Josefs-Kai 3, AIL moves to the former Postsparkasse. We take the chance to say goodbye and look back.

An Interview with Alexandra Graupner, head of AIL since 2014, about false alarms, favorite corners and future plans.

About false alarms, favorite corners and future plans

A short ride through the history of AIL from 2014 to 2021
Interview by Vicky Klug

Hi Alex, thanks for finding the time for this interview in between all the packed moving boxes. How are you doing?

After experiencing so many intense projects here at the Franz-Josefs-Kai, I am of course a bit sad to leave this beautiful space behind. We worked hard on creating a calm and open work and exhibition atmosphere. It took some time to find our voice, but when we did, I felt very comfortable and strong about creating this very special safe space and I was enjoying every minute of personal interaction during our events or exhibition productions.

Starting a new chapter in the Otto Wagner building means changing the course a little and conquering the new space for our agenda. As there will be many different players moving into this building during the next years, it is very exciting to be positioned at the heart of things. After all, this is the biggest asset of moving: becoming part of the university geographically and being surrounded by potential AIL-collaborators.

Especially after this challenging Covid year, I am longing for having heated discussions and face to face contact with lecturers, meet our Angewandte artists in the hallway, get to know scientists from ÖAW, the Austrian Academy of Science, and finally, see our audience again.

Sign "Gallery closed because of flooding" | Image by © 'Gallery closed due to flooding'

What will you miss the most?

The cool basement in summer and the view towards the Riesenrad (the Giant Ferris Wheel in the Vienna Prater amusement park), when stepping out.

What won't you miss or may be glad to leave behind?

False alarms and calls from our security company in the middle of the night.

Alexandra Graupner, Head of AIL and Dr. Gerald Bast, President of University of Applied Arts Vienna | Image by © Alexandra Graupner, Head of AIL and Dr. Gerald Bast, President of University of Applied Arts Vienna at the opening night of AIL, 2014

Can you remember your first working day at AIL back in 2014?

It all started in a shopping centre on April 1st: Die Angewandte rented office space in Wien Mitte, the mall, and in order to get to it I had to find my way through a maze of hallways. It felt a little bit like in Alice in Wonderland, walking through the rabbit hole … We would only move into our space at Franz-Josefs-Kai in August of the same year.

How did AIL change for you?

AIL is always changing. This is one of the core elements of its personality. Re-evaluating what we have done, how we work and what we could make better are central parts of our work process. Every project needs different things and teaches us more about inter- and transdisciplinary work and the people involved in it. We embrace constant development and I am very content that we feel comfortable in this suit.

Also thanks to our great team. Although I started the project by myself, in October 2014 I was joined by Eva Weber and Nico Wind, who helped shape AIL and how we roll. Their immense support, expertise, humor and endurance are part of AIL´s voice. For 5 years we were producing, curating, laughing, cooking, sweating and thinking together. Yet, as AIL needs have constantly been changing and growing (as well as our personal lives), the set up of our team needed to be modified.

In January 2020, Elisabeth Falkensteiner joined me in the leading position (each of us being part time), which we share with our complementing skills. Elisabeth brings in precious curatorial expertise and is in charge of putting together AIL´s program, which leaves time for my efforts to increase cooperations with external partners and encourage new collaborations. With the complexity of AIL´s tasks, adding this level of double-leadership, was a long-cherished wish. It offers so much more resources and strengthens the team over all.

Not to forget that until Fall 2021, we are also being joined by you for the AIL communications and your immense sensitivity for our diverse nature helps us to put together our new website.

So it's also the team and the people that bring in different things that help us embrace and manage the constant change, including the changes that come with the new space and the new neighborhood.

Favorite exhibition?

I don't have a favorite event or exhibition. In general, I was thriving most, when our collaboration with artists, scientists or other fields started to create it´s own drive and filled AIL with a changed atmosphere and exciting new content. The best moments are, when people find each other at AIL and start new projects together. Those moments are very rewarding.

What was one of the most impressive moments?

For me personally, all musical endeavors were amazing in the space. The sound and the atmosphere are unique and create goosebump – moments.

The AIL at Franz-Josefs-Kai was a huge space. Did you have a favorite corner?

The stairs in the central room were where I would sit and listen to our lectures.

Image by ©

Anything you would make differently retrospectively looking?

Not really, as I am convinced that we needed to take every step of the way and fail where we failed.

Image by © © Eva Weber

What are you looking forward to?

I am keen on starting to push our development further: besides connecting people and supporting projects and collaborations, I would like to work on documenting the theoretical background, the overall impact that finished projects have/had and our experiences in inter- and transdisciplinary work. So far, there is not too much out there looking at and measuring the impact of the artistic factors in interdisciplinary work. I would like to make the results of AIL's work more visible and show it´s importance.

Image by ©

What was the most difficult thing for you in the past years, something you didn't think you could manage, but in the end got there?

The most difficult things are to stay calm, patient and take the time to listen in the heat of everyday work. With all the different events and quickly changing contents, it was sometimes a lot to really understand what our partners wanted to achieve and support them accordingly. Yet, I was growing with each project and I am glad, that I was able to learn how to cater the needs of interdisciplinary collaboration best.

If you could make a wish for the new location and the year to come, what would it sound like?

Let us meet again, let us talk again. I can't wait for our first Kochmittwoch, our monthly cooking gathering!

Thank you Alex for this interview and the little ride through seven years with AIL!

Alexandra Graupner
works as a cultural manager with a special focus on transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary art endeavors and artistic research projects at AIL – Angewandte Innovation Lab.

Working in the field of architecture for over a decade, her interest in multidisciplinary aspects of artistic work was sparked. In 2014 she became the head of Angewandte Innovation Lab, a platform for interdisciplinary and experimental artistic projects at the University for Applied Arts Vienna. Her work focuses on supporting artists, scientists and external partners to present and realize their interdisciplinary projects, connecting people from different fields and providing a safe space for experimental ideas to develop. It is her goal to make the results of those projects comprehensible for a public audience and limelight the impacts they have on society.