3 steles | 160 cm, 150 cm, 137 cm | paper, cardboard, wax | iron base

Who was Agnes W.?

My eye was caught then by two notebooks that had washed up in public through a flea market. The determined handwriting, the long lists, the accurate and multiple crossings out and the glued in parts of plants struck attracted me.

Between 1908 and 1925 Agnes Wobek made notes in these booklets, kept lists, crossed bits out again, copied in poems, noted and commented on outings, dance evenings and visits, and noted down addresses. A receipt between the pages showed that in 1925 in Völkermarkt she had paid in 300,000 crowns in tax as a dressmaker. Other transactions are also noted, shopping lists – from a whole pig to castor oil to a lead for the dog. An “I-owe-you” lay between two pages, and – in line with her job – there are repeated measurements taken for her needlework.


In decoding it, the contours of a person slowly emerged: who was this woman, who as a twenty-year-old keeps long lists of the animals that come to her window? Who comments on her visits, outings or dance evenings as “very amusing” or “not very amusing”? Who evidently liked singing – on New Year’s Eve 1913, for example, her 22nd birthday, until four o’clock in the morning? And who also added poems to these notes, one by “A Ukranian one-year volunteer blinded in the war, A. Wolotschack (blinded in both eyes)”?


The town priest of Völkermarkt informed me from his records that she was born on 31 December 1892 in Eberndorf in the vicinty of Völkermarkt as the daughter of Agnes Wobek, nee Trabel, and Josef Wobek, gamekeeper in Eberndorf. The municipality of Völkermarkt also let me know that “the unmarried seamstress Agnes Wobek had a son with the name Max Wobek.”