Arctic Portal logo

The Arctic Gateway

The Box by Gregor Sailer

The Box was the unofficial name given to small scale secret Soviet facilities such as design bureaux for weapons, aircraft, space and military electronics. These functioned much like Closed Cities, but were typically only around the size of a factory. The name box was usually classified, as were the activities undertaken there. The definate location selected for this project is the secret “Messerschmitt-halle” in the now-disused mines of Schwaz (Tyrol). This secret underground factory for the production of the infamous aircraft was constructed during World War II within the existing infrastructure of the 15th Century silver mines. Hundreds of slave labourers had to work there under horrible conditions in order to successfully produce the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. The area is situated about 2000 metres underground in absolute darkness and (nowadays) without the service of any infrastructure. The proposed illumination of these huge caverns is a fundamental requirement in revealing the architecture of this semi-legendary space and in doing so, exploring the visual and emotional impact of one such historically-significant Box.
The photographs on the surface describe the location where the former forced labor camp constructed for the “Messerschmitthalle” has been situated. Later the French occupying forces used the camp as detention center for National Socialists and named it “Oradour”. Today nothing is reminiscent of this place.


The Polar Silk Road by Gregor Sailer

Temperatures up to 55 degree Celsius below zero, military restriction zones, extensive research, and the unpredictability of the Arctic made this project with the analog view camera an enormous challenge. The Polar Silk Road deals with the economic exploitation of the Arctic regions and the territorial claims of the respective neighboring states. The associated consequences are geopolitical tensions as well as the expansion of military structures and research stations, which Sailer highlights in his project.


Unseen Places by Gregor Sailer

The artist is interested in the structural transformation of landscape and the complex political, military and economic implications of architecture. This leads him to remote, inhospitable parts of the world, Potemkin villages and places that only a few people can reach. Sailer's photos are deserted, the buildings in them often look like sculptures. Whether climate change, political conflicts or an exaggerated need for security - Sailer's pictures reveal the dynamics that lead to the existence of these places. KUNST HAUS WIEN is devoting its first major exhibition in Austria to Gregor Sailer. The Tyrolean photo artist, born in 1980, has received numerous awards, his photos have been shown in numerous publications and exhibitions and are represented in public and private collections.