Approaching Stadlnova - Record of a journey through the in-betweens of Vienna and Bratislava

Stadlnova is a fictive suburb somewhere between Bratislava and Vienna, creating the base for a creative research platform about marginal(ized) aspects of these cities, their region and all the in-betweens. It unfolds a new space of the possible between here and there, center and periphery, growth and recession, archaeology and utopia. A space, where participation and collaboration are facilitated, infected by a genuine curiosity in peripheries.

km 0,000 Stadlau

Entering the Marchfeldwiesel, my train. At present not exactly the most swift train connection, the Marchegger Ostbahn once used to be a major railway line. Since 1870 for decades it even provided the rail connection between Vienna and Budapest, also featuring the legendary Orient Express. The fact that our weasel is currently riding Austria's longest straight railway track tells a lot about the morphology of the territory we are passing through. It is the westernmost part of the Eurasian Steppe, the great wide open, for Austrians associated with a primal fear of sorts.

km 0,725 Wien Erzherzog-Karl-Straße

This is so nowhere, I once thought after having left my train from Bratislava to Vienna at that stop, still quite far from its final destination Südbahnhof. Somehow this suburbia captured me, and I got excited strolling past vast traffic corridors, post-industrial brownfields, abandoned shops and large scale retail infrastructure. I started imagining traces of a long since gone glimpses of suburban life, and tried to sense unexpected spaces of the possible. The idea for Stadlnova started to grow somewhere there. I notice a group of young Spaniards sitting behind me, who are obviously getting excited about their trip to Bratislava.

km 19,478 Siebenbrunn-Leopoldsdorf

Heaps of sugar beet, and a factory. Marchfeld, the lowlands between the rivers Morava and Danube are known as Vienna's breadbasket and region of market gardening. The merry travelers in my train seem as if confronted with the limits of their Lonely Planet Travel Guide. I'm surprised that there even is an edition for Central Europe, featuring Slovakia and Austria alike.

km 27,120 Schönfeld-Lassee

Tall yellowish concrete silos, just like at any other station after having left Vienna behind. They are the only landmarks around, bearing the gable cross logo of that influential banking group, still controlling a vast majority of rural Austria. Along the track I notice piles of rotting onions and occasional hectic rabbit movements. No hint of growing commuter towns. Not a single trace of excitement anymore from my fellow travelers either.

km 35,606 Marchegg

Seeming somehow lost at the edge between here and there, the rural Austrian town of Marchegg lies just across the river Morava from Bratislava. It could well be considered as a suburb of the Slovak capital, if it wasn't only connected with it by a single track railway bridge. Nowadays Marchegg has about 3000 inhabitants, while some 750 years ago, it was supposed to become the biggest city of eastern Austria. Reminders of this failed utopia of its founder, king Ottokar II of Bohemia are the remains of the massive 8-meter tall town wall, of which the Wiener Tor (Vienna Gate) is in quite good condition, while the Ungartor (Hungarian Gate) lies in ruins. Spaniards have fallen asleep.

km 37,910 National border Austria-Slovakia

We are crossing the river Morava, whose meadow-lands are known as a stork paradise. The railway bridge is lined with the tattered remains of what used to be a major connection between here and there. Sadly my fellow travelers miss the welcoming committee of seemingly intact concrete bunkers topped by Volkswagen's smoke stacks on the Slovak shore.

km 41,530 Devínska Nová Ves

I get off the train. Feeling kind of numbed by the dreary journey, I'm starting to wonder about the occurrence of Robert Musil's “of the possible” in the peripheries between here and there, while the Spanish travelers continue their nap towards Bratislava.

Jürgen Rendl