Noah Riemer

Musiker und Sozialarbeiter

7000 Bänke:

Hello. We are right now at the bench in the front yard of Noah Riemer (18. district in Vienna). He built a bench for his front yard to sit there and smoke and drink coffee. It’s a nice little front yard situation: you have a view on the street, you are surrounded by green and some trees and so…

What did you think when you built this bench?

Noah Riemer:

I was always out here because I decided not to smoke in the flat anymore and it was pretty shitty to just stand there were the cars are coming or on the street with a cup of coffee. Or I was sitting here near the fence and I just did not feel comfortable, when people came and it looked like: who is this, why is he sitting here smoking a cigarette, I don’t know. and I always thought, here in front of the house it would be a really good place for a bench, it would be comfortable.

And one day, I was sitting on my couch, doing a meditation and it came like a flash to me: you have to build this bench today!  And I did it this day!
I went to OBI, bought some stuff and I built the first bench and put it in front of the house. First I thought, maybe it’s not allowed, so I will ask the doctor from upstairs, because I knew that he owns a part of the house. And when I met him, I asked him, if it is ok, or do I have to ask the other owners of the house maybe. He said: no I think it’s a pretty good idea, you don’t need to ask anybody else, it’s really ok, if you put this bench here. So I put it there. And then I was sitting here and smoking and drinking coffee and it was really funny, because after a week maybe I got to know…
First Lydia came down - the woman from the second floor and told me: „It’s such a nice idea to have a bench here, it’s really good, we should even do more.“
Yes, she also made a picnic here after I put the bench: one Sunday I came home, she was sitting here with a friend, saying: „Hey you should join us!“
I didn‘t have time, but she always wanted to do even more social stuff out here.
And at the same time, Martin came, the guy from the other flat.
It was funny – because I was living here one and a half years and I didn’t even meet them. And after the bench was here, suddenly, I met all the people of the house. For sure I know, just because I sit here sometimes, I see the people come in and…

So now you even spend more time here. I mean, since the bench is here, you don’t only come for smoking?

No, sometimes I write stuff in my book. It‘s not so super comfortable like sitting in a Caféhaus, but if the sun is here, yes.
But, just to say again, the first bench really did something with the communication of all the parties of the house…
And then I went traveling for four months in winter time, and when I came back, the bench was gone. So, I guess someone stole it, because I asked all the people and they all said, they don’t know. Or like: „Ask Martin, I guess he knows“ and the he says: “I don‘t know anything about the bench, ask Lydia!” And then everybody told me: “I guess, we put it in the cellar maybe, because it was winter time”, but I took a look at the cellar and it wasn’t there.

There was even the helper of the housekeeper, who opened cellar doors for you…

Ah yes, I even got to know Murat - the guy who cleans the stairs and he was really surprised, like: “Normally, the people in Vienna, they are really unfriendly; they don’t say hello to me.” But if I sit here, I always talk to him, he is a really friendly guy. I also offered him some coffee.

And he helped you looking for the bench?

We looked for the bench, but it was gone. And then I thought, we need another bench, because there is a bench missing, definitely. For a while, I didn’t even meet the people anymore and after a while I really thought: there needs to be a bench again!

There, it was also the starting point for me, to come up with this project. Because we were talking about it, that there would be a second bench needed…

Yeah, because also generally I guess, in the first district, second district, there are not so many places, I mean, there are a lot of benches everywhere. But here in the outside, more residential parts of the city, like the 18th district, there a lot of places, where you could put up a bench and just take a look, what happens then…

True, and for me, it was really, when we were coming here right now and I had a look at the place, I thought this is a pretty dead place without the bench, it’s between the fence to the road and the house and there is not really a path to walk.

But with the bench there, it suddenly becomes a place. Before it was just no man’s land and now it’s really a meeting point.

So, do you feel now like a social sculpturer?

Hahaha. Sometimes, when I sit here, yes; because the people walk by thy see me sitting and it seems that I belong to the place, you know…

Well then, thank you Noah; it has been a pleasure.