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An installation in the park of Admont Abbey shows just how close poverty and wealth are in our society

How close poverty and wealth are to each other in our society...

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Six silhouettes made of steel - children, young adults, older adults - each depicted as a couple, as rich and poor united. This art installation "Wealth versus Poverty" by the Family Department of the Catholic Church of Styria and "RAINBOWS" as well as five other organisations can be seen in the park of Admont Abbey until 30 June. The installation will then move on to St Lambrecht as a travelling exhibition. As a sign of how close rich and poor are and how quickly a good life can turn into a difficult one.

The project is based on 20 life stories taken from the day-to-day work of the participating organisations. The exhibition tells exemplary stories of part-time working single parents, the long-term unemployed, the chronically ill, families with many children, people with a migration background, "working poor" families and their children. "Stories that are upsetting and thought-provoking. They show how quickly breaks in life happen, e.g. through divorce or job loss, followed by poverty. It can happen to any of us, every day," say the project managers Katrin Windischbacher (Family Department of the Diocese of Graz-Seckau) and Dagmar Bojdunyk-Rack (RAINBOWS). They hope that passers-by will become part of the exhibition, for example by taking selfies with the figures, and realise that poverty should not be associated with guilt but should be seen as a structural problem that is part of our society. The aim of this interactive travelling exhibition is to create concern, understanding and sensitivity for the topic.

The artists who designed the figures were themselves forced into a precarious situation by the effects of the coronavirus. "We are all now familiar with the situation of not being able to earn anything for many months and not being sufficiently supported by social safety nets. Those who are lucky have savings, those who are unlucky - and there are very many of us - have to apply for social welfare," say artists Jelena Ristic and Rainer Juriatti. They see this project as an opportunity for people who are happy and have a sufficient income to take a few seconds to think about which "side" of the poverty line they themselves are on - or could soon be on.

"A painful perennial issue - wealth - poverty, increasingly noticeable during the Corona period, painfully visible after the Corona period. Each and every one of us is called upon to help the other person who needs help, materially or spiritually, depending on their possibilities. "If a brother or sister is without clothes and without daily bread and one of you says to them: "Go in peace, warm and feed yourselves, you give them or not what they need to live - what good is that?" (Letter of James 2, 15.16).

Christians are no strangers to solidarity and empathy," says Abbot Gerhard Hafner O.S.B.

The exhibition is accompanied by a brochure with the biographies of the people depicted and many offers of help for those affected.

Installation Rich & Poor

People at risk of poverty are those whose household income is less than 60 per cent of the average weighted median income. One in seven (1,472,000 people, or 16.9 % of the total population) is at risk of poverty or poor in Austria. 303,000 children and young people across Austria live in households at risk of poverty. (Source: Statistics Austria, May 2020)

A project by: Family Department of the Catholic Church of Styria, RAINBOWS, Poverty Network Styria, Caritas of the Diocese of Graz-Seckau, Fund for Work and Education of the Diocese of Graz-Seckaz, Project Single Parents, Department for Diaconia in the Pastoral & Theology Division

Funded by the Innovation Fund of the Diocese of Graz-Seckau.

Text: Dagmar Bojdunyk-Rack (RAINBOWS-Austria)

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