Ready, set, go! Play a game of human billiards when the Haus-Rucker-Co’s giant installation takes over ARKEN.

8 October 2022 to 16 April 2023


Haus-Rucker-Co (Laurids-Zamp-Pinter), Giant Billard, Vienna 1970. Photo: © Almut Imlau / Archive Zamp Kelp

In the autumn of 2022, the rebellious collective Haus-Rucker-Co’s legendary and community-forming installation Giant Billiard will take over one of ARKEN’s largest exhibition spaces. The installation is a remake of the historic work from 1970: back then, three giant, white billiard balls lay waiting to be pushed around on a 225 sqm mattress that formed the setting for an experimental game of billiards at The Museum of the 20th Century in Vienna. Here, the audience becomes part of the game, pieces that fight against or alongside each other depending on how the game develops. Everyone shares one common trait: they are all part of a larger game. They have become team players – maybe even actors. The work remains highly relevant today, a time when many urgently seek a release from entrenched cultural rules and expectations. ARKEN is eagerly looking forward to breathing new life into the work, inviting playful people of all ages to frolic and have fun with the vast opportunities for social interaction found in Haus-Rucker-Co’s Giant Billiard.

Haus-Rucker-Co (Laurids-Zamp-Pinter), Balloon for 2, Vienna 1967. Foto: Gert Winkler © Archive Zamp Kelp

The utopia of play

The 1960s called for radical change, and the Viennese group Haus-Rucker-Co was born in the wake of this upheaval. Three architects, Laurids Ortner, Günter Zamp Kelp and Klaus Pinter, formed the cooperative in 1967; they were later joined by Manfred Ortner. Engaging with the general public, the group wanted to challenge the often-limiting general perceptions of space, to break down existing hierarchies of power and create new utopian urban spaces. Inflatable oases, futuristic masks, edible urban landscapes and giant billiard balls were to increase the viewer’s awareness of the power of sensuous experience, a faculty increasingly dulled and forgotten by the stimuli of consumer society. Taking their starting point in the Situationists’ ideas about play as a vehicle for change, Haus-Rucker-Co turned realities upside down and created poignant food for thought for subsequent generations of artists. Haus-Rucker-Co no longer exists as a collective, but regarded as a practice the group’s experiments remain relevant, resonating with our ever-increasing focus on the environment and social art.

The ‘house-movers’

The newly graduated sixties architects named their budding project after the region ‘Hausruck’ in Austria, where the three founding members were born and raised. The dual meaning of the word ‘Hausruck’ would prove an apt description of the group’s practice: it can be taken to mean ‘house-move’, a ‘ruck’ being a sudden jerk or pull. On the one hand, the collective wanted to introduce a new architectural concept through their innovative installations, and on the other hand they also wanted to create works that were changeable and mutable. However, the last part of their name, ‘Co’, was perhaps the most important of all: signifying their essential nature as a cooperative and how a collective spirit was the core of their ideology, permeating their practices and works.


It was for us always about perception. So, I have something to touch, something to look at, and something to hear. Through all of these elements we experience something new. This input of the unexpected is a moment of innovation or revolution.