The ultimate Potentiale 2017 guide - a festival for urban space creation in Feldkirch, Austria

* this blog post was written by myself and POTENTIALe supported me financially.

Feldkirch, a town located in the west of Austria, is hosting a few events and festivals throughout the year, but there's only one festival where so many different kinds of people come to Feldkirch and where it's possible to see and experience Feldkirch from a slightly different angle. The 3rd Potentiale Feldkirch festival opened their doors on October 25th and within 3 weekends there was enough time to see Feldkirch through the eyes of POTENTIALe. 

© Katharina Weigert
© Katharina Weigert

Wait, never heard of Feldkirch before? 

Feldkirch is a medieval city, located in the western part of Austria, Vorarlberg. It's the second biggest town in Vorarlberg population wise (around 35,900 inhabitants). It's at the direct border to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Feldkirch was mentioned as a city for the first time in 1218. Founder of the city, count Hugo von Montfort built the Schattenburg on the hillside in Feldkirch. The castle is still one of the major attractions in town. Next year Feldkirch will turn 800 years and is going to celebrate this special event with several events and exhibitions throughout the entire year. Feldkirch is an adorable city with a well preserved medieval character, yet vibrant and urban with its many cafés, bars and events. Sustainability also plays an important role in the town's life. 

Festival start

I attended the opening of the Potentiale festival with the exhibition "Pizzeria Disgusto" at the agency Zeughaus. It was quite a warm evening in Feldkirch. The start of the festival, together with the opening of the exhibition was very successful and also delicious. Food and art, do I need to say more? They do go along pretty well. Outside, in front of the agency was a mobile pizza oven and delicious little pizzas were served, together with beer or wine. Ingo Türtscher, head of the festival, together with Thomas Pfanner from Montforter Zwischentöne, gave a short overview of the festival and later, everyone was standing in line for pizza and/or for drinks. All in all, it was a wonderful evening with great conversations. 

Sometimes it's the uninvited guests who invite us. Sometimes it's seemingly closed doors that open up new access for us. And not infrequently, the biggest gift is what demands a second look from us. 

- Ingo Türtscher, head of the festival - 

Divided into different programs called talents, projects, networks and fair, numerous events and workshops as part of the Potentiale festival took place in the past three weeks. A very interesting book project "Das Alphabet der guten Nachbarschaft" from Swiss typographers Jost Hochuli and Roland Steiger was presented at the press conference. It's a little book describing the connection between Vorarlberg and eastern Switzerland. With every letter comes a little story, although unfortunately right now it's only available in German. 


Typography also played a major role in the first family day at the Montforthaus (a culture and congress center that you should visit and even if it's just because of its beautiful architecture). Also, the tourist office is located right at the entrance (here you can buy "Das Alphabet der guten Nachbarschaft). 

Potentiale 2017 Montforthaus Feldkirch © Melanie Klien @Mafambani
Exhibition at Montforthaus Feldkirch

Festival headquarter: Pulverturm

As soon as the Potentiale festival starts, at most of the spots, you'll be able to get yourself a festival magazine. If you don't know where to start, Montforthaus or the Potentiale Feldkirch headquarter will always have a magazine for you. Inside, you'll find a map with all places in town that you can visit as well as a description to all places and different programs. I usually like to take those things with me so I can read through later at home. 

Potentiale 2017 Pulverturm Feldkirch © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

As written in the festival magazine, spaces should have an atmosphere. The Potentiale festival headquarter, Pulverturm, is exactly such a space. It was the perfect spot to take a break from walking around Feldkirch, to ask for information or to meet people. Although I live in Vorarlberg, I never had the chance so far to see the Pulverturm from inside.


The tower is from 1460 and is located close to the Mühletor. The alpine club used to be inside for a few years but in the last couple of years, it was empty. Throughout the festival, the Pulverturm hosted someone different for each week.

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The installation by Studio SAAL was a highlight as the whole ceiling served as a mirror and together with different lights it was an attraction on its own. While I was there, I got to experience the Dutch guys Piet Bergmann and his crew. I went there four times in total just because I loved the atmosphere there so much. I ate their fries twice, accompanied with their homemade lemonade (so delicious!) and also tried their soup. As I walked there, I already saw them in front of the tower, positioned under umbrellas preparing fries and cooking a soup. I listened to a cool and funky song while Piet was singing to it, as he prepared fries for the next customer. As more people came closer, one of the crew would walk around and give them a shot glass full of soup or with lemonade and tell them "try, it's good." 

POTENTIALe 2017 © Patricia Keckeis
© Patricia Keckeis

It was quite cold and rainy at the time I was there, so we grabbed our food to sit inside. At the time I was there, it felt so cozy inside because the crew filled old shirts and sat them to tables or on benches or hang them beside the staircase. Apparently, during another performance, they gave those shirts to visitors to wear them so they would all feel more connected to each other and now they use those used shirts for a new art installation. I liked the idea of it as it filled up the empty space and made it really cozy inside. Also it was perfect to lean against it and use it as a cushion. 

Sitting here, writing this blog post, it's bitter to realize that the festival is over now and I can't pick up some fries after a long day of work anymore and listen to some music and watch these guys having so much fun. Yes, Piet and your crew, you'll be missed and I hope you come back next year again.

POTENTIALe projects © Patricia Keckeis
© Patricia Keckeis

What there is of it - Florian Gerer 

Located in a quite unexpected space, Florian Gerer, a Vorarlberg artist, placed a few photographs along the wall of the underpass of the bus station by the Katzenturm. I love the fact that some people just walked by us and only when they realized we took pictures, they stopped and also noticed those photos on the wall. It's a great idea to include more art into our daily life and to bring more beauty into places which are not beautiful per se. In fact, this underpass has nothing nice, it just does its job to cross the street but it shows us that we do enjoy art and we do enjoy the beauty. So why not make such places prettier with such installations for a longer time? I'd love to see different exhibitions every few months. 

Astronaut - Nadine Hirschauer 

In the former café Stella, which now looks unfamiliar empty, sits a big balloon, with 5 meters diameter. Space is limited and somehow the balloon can move along the floor, but it never leaves it. It reminded me of some humans who are similar to me, filled up with dreams and hopes, reaching up to the stars but still stand on the ground with both feet. Taurus, my zodiac sign gives me roots while the rest of me is reaching up and always looks for inspiration, new projects, wants to explore new places and loves to discover mother earth. And there's this part of me who always loves to come back home, to be grounded and rooted in my home, where my heart belongs.

Potentiale 2017 Astronaut Nadine Hirschauer © Melanie Klien @Mafambani - Frank Lüling

This material, an expanding foam, is shaped by Frank Lüling who puts the somewhat not very aesthetic material into geometric forms. The artist highlights those forms with illumination. The installation was located at the Mühletor. I enjoyed the installation mostly by night but, I can't recommend getting too close to the installation. Unfortunately dark, public spaces are often misused and same goes with this one. I don't want to go into details but a few people must have used it as a public toilet. But, standing there with a bit of a distance I was perfectly fine and could still enjoy the installation that reminded me a lot of clouds. Again, very dreamy and to me, it was the opposite of the installation "Astronaut". One installation allows me to feel my roots, and the other brings the opposite, the element of air or ether. Ether is the first of the five great elements in Ayurveda. Often it's referred as "space", the essence of emptiness. Ether is cold, light, omnipresent and everywhere. Ether is part of all other elements and it has no limits. 

To a certain degree, the installation made the impression of clouds, of air and to a certain extent, they were captivated in the Mühletor as if they couldn't break out. But I also had the feeling these clouds could be everywhere. Those sunny clouds could be inside of me and make me smile on a busy, cold, rainy day in Feldkirch when nothing works out and I still smile at strangers or to the lady in the supermarket, only to brighten up her day and my day at the same time. Although it might just brighten up hers for a few seconds, it might be a difference. And for me, it means I am showing my body love because I smile. And we all know that makes a huge difference. 

POTENTIALe networks

Within networks, the POTENTIALe offers various cultural actors the opportunity to present their exhibition or their project. One of them was the Pizzeria Disgusto as mentioned earlier, as well as the exhibition "sagen wir, ich sei eine biene" (Let's say I'm a bee).

sagen wir, ich sei eine biene - an exhibition by Gernot Bösch 

Potentiale 2017 Gernot Bösch © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

I visited the exhibition shortly. The artist Gernot Bösch is like me, from Hohenems (which is around 20 km by car from Feldkirch). The exhibition is in the Wexelstube (see below for the map). There are still two possibilities to see it if you're in town:


Saturday, Nov 18th: 10 AM - 6 PM 

Sunday, Nov 19th: 2 PM - 6 PM (Finissage) 

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No more fashion victims - an installation by wolfff & Urban Foxxes 

Potentiale 2017 no more fashion victims © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

What a great opportunity to go back into this lovely store. Wolfff and Urban Foxxes share a little homey store with each other. For this installation, they made clothes out of newspapers and added price tags. A shirt for 2.99 € or a dress for 10.99 €. One evening, as I passed by one of the girls was even wearing such a dress, but unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of it. With a certain humor, they critically take a position on fast fashion. Kassandra, the owner of Urban Foxxes told me, she wants to show that fast fashion is like a newspaper. It could be in fashion today but tomorrow it might look different and she hopes to raise a certain awareness. In her shop, she offers vintage clothes but also produces own clothes under her label Urban Foxxes. She recycles different kinds of material and showed us one dress where she didn't have enough material anymore and cut an old pair of jeans and used the legs as arms. She's very passionate about everything she sells and with most products she can tell you where they come from. Last year I bought a dress in the shop and I love it. So if you're into vintage clothing, I can highly recommend this place. 

Noli me tangere - an exhibition by Elisabeth Eberle in the Johanniter church 

Swiss artist Elisabeth Eberle collected magnolia fruits and took protocol of its different mature states. Therefore she put the objects, into latex or plaster. The result can be seen in the church. The church by itself is already pure art, constructed between the 15th and the 16th century. If you have the chance to see it during your visit in Feldkirch, don't miss it. Be kind enough to support the exhibition, even if it's just a small amount so they can hold many more exhibitions in the future. I love this place for exhibitions and its very unique vibe. I still want to visit it in the daylight, but it has something magical by night. 

Open until December 23rd

Marktgasse 1, 6800 Feldkirch

Opening hours: 

Tuesday - Friday: 10-12 AM and 3 - 6 PM 

Saturday: 10 AM - 2 PM 

POTENTIALe talents

Culture happens everywhere. This format discovers new spaces and does lots of experiments. We discovered Neustadt 45 where we found a pop-up store with a few designers:

- Johanna Gauder (goldsmith and designer)

- NaSoNgo (bags and accessories with leather exclusively from Europe) 

- Buki Akomolafe (fashion inspired by Africa, created in Berlin)

- m°e (two newcomers in Vienna who create unisex kids fashion)  

POTENTIALe 2017 © Patricia Keckeis
© Patricia Keckeis

Thanks to the nice ladies in the pop-up store they pointed to the closed door and told us we could go and see the exhibition of "ISTANBUL'DAN - Design Experience Istanbul". It was exciting to open the door to discover yet another secret in one of the houses of Feldkirch. The spiral staircase went further down into a beautiful, little cellar. 

Potentiale 2017 exhibition Istanbul dan © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

Here's the description of the gallery: 


"The noise, the old and the new, the improvised and the temporary - all the stories that are told and all the experiences shared, the constant change and all the unpredictable aspects of life. What fascinates and captivates us is the versatility and complexity at hand. On our travels around Istanbul we consciously move outside the boundaries of our comfort zone - we want to discover, learn and act." 


Find out more:


The past weekend from November 9th until 12th the Reichenfeld area turned into the cultural district of Feldkirch. Designers, photographers and all kinds of crafters came to present their work and to exchange with customers, like-minded people and the whole community. 


First, we explored the Pförtnerhaus where many cultural events and concerts take place. Here was the main place for the fair. Downstairs we started walking around to explore one booth after the other. 


We had to stop at one booth specifically by the company BETONEN - handmade concrete furniture. That sounds a bit unusual and funny first, but looks quite cool! I mostly not a big fan of concrete to be honest, so if I like something with concrete it has to include wood basically. That's when I had to stop and had to touch the table and some other pieces they had in their exhibition.

Upstairs were even more booths. We enjoyed walking around, and talking to the people behind the brands. 

As it was already late, we had a delicious soup with bread just on the second floor. The catering was done by magma, a lovely café in Feldkirch. Their cuisine has its own, unique style, they offer many vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes and always cook in a high quality. 


The second part of the fair happened at Altes Hallenbad. I really enjoyed the photography exhibition but somehow I had the impression there were way fewer photos than I expected to be. Well, I love photography exhibitions so I was definitely hoping for more.

There were a few pictures I really enjoyed, especially those from Mexico (obviously as I love to travel) but the most fascinating photos for me were the ones with the title "Einsiedler. In einsamer Freiheit." (hermit - in lonesome freedom) by Ueli Steingruber. 



There was one portrait and below a book where you could get a little sneak peak how the person lives and what's important to him or her. I hope the artist will continue with such stories. I'd love to buy a whole book about it.

Potentiale Feldkirch 2017 © Patricia Keckeis
© Patricia Keckeis

Upstairs were a few booths as well, but I didn't spend much time walking around, only to sit at the lovely pop-up café of Glashus (which usually located in the areal of Blumen Kopf in Frastanz). Well, guess what we did extensively? Sure - coffee and cake, lots of cake. The concept of the café was 'pay what you want' where I usually end up paying way more anyway because the girls who worked there were so nice and the homemade cake sooo delicious. 

The POTENTIALe festival is over now and like last year, it feels different to walk around in Feldkirch. Being busy most of my days, I find it hard to visit galleries or museums in my free time as I also want to see friends and family or do sports. So with the POTENTIALe, I enjoyed most that art was an easy thing 'to do' or 'to enjoy' those three weeks. It was nothing I had to plan much because I could easily 'consume' a part of the POTENTIALe within my lunch break. I could experience something completely new and meet strangers and talk with them for a few minutes about something we just consumed together accidentally. I had a feeling of exploring a new place. I was excited what the next door might reveal in the next second, to see new places and to see new things. Well to me, that's a big reason why I love to travel. I love to discover. And while I have been living in Vorarlberg for my entire life (and a few other places too), and after traveling quite a lot, I find it interesting whenever I turn my 'discover' mode on. And usually that doesn't happen within a lunch break, but at the time of the POTENTIALe, it happened. I love this mode because I simply enjoy wandering around, my mind is shut off and new ideas come up in my head and it allowed me to be creative and to turn off that automatic mode that we find us many times during the day. 

Sad news first, the POTENTIALe 2017 is over, the good news is, 2018 will come for sure. If you plan to stay for a while in Feldkirch to experience it all by yourself, then I can recommend you to either book a room at hotel Gutwinski or at Montfort das Hotel. I haven't had the opportunity to stay there yet, but I did have the opportunity to take a look at a few rooms and I really liked them. 

Potentiale 2017 © Patricia Keckeis
© Patricia Keckeis

Although this blog post was a collaboration and sponsored by POTENTIALe, my opinion, is as always my own and based on my experiences. 

Are you planning to come and visit next year? Have you ever been to Feldkirch but missed the POTENTIALe? Let me know in the comments.