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Off Piste: an Alpine History

Off Piste: an Alpine History

Author(s): Lois Hechenblaikner, Thomas Weski, Wolfgang Ullrich

Location(s): Austrian Alps

Genre(s): Historical, Travelogue

Era(s): Various

Location

Content

“Off Piste” is a very funny and powerful satire. It looks at the enormous changes to Austria’s alpine region, the Tyrol, over recent decades. It juxtaposes images from two very different worlds – the old, ‘traditional’ rural Austria and the increasingly consumer driven culture of today. Wonderful ironies abound, yet despite the humour that underlies them there are chilling implications for the region and for the sustainability of its natural landscape and social traditions. Behind this very amusing book lies an equally serious purpose. Once there was a strong dependence on the natural world – the landscape, work and everyday lives were intertwined. The black and white photographs, taken by agricultural engineer Armin Kniely, that depict this ‘lost’ world have a particular charm. Today though, as Lois Hechenblaikner’s colour photographs vividly show, it is a much changed environment where the excesses of our consumerist world are clear to see. With over 40 million overnight stays a year Austria’s tourist industry is all important to the country. Here there is ‘Something for everyone, summer and winter, season after season, event after event. A well-oiled leisure machine. A tourist paradise. Big business and big profits.’ But at what cost?

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