Nedko Solakov
Lost Cold War Spies



Grand Hôtel Wiesler, Hotel Mariahilf, Das Weitzer, Palais-Hotel Erzherzog Johann, Parkhotel Graz, Schlossberghotel – Das Kunsthotel


Production specifics
Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’19

Figurines executed by Slava Nakovska

Hotels are the perfect place for espionage and intrigue, as Nedko Solakov remembers in a series of twenty-three figurines discreetly displayed in six of Graz’s hotel lobbies. Designed and executed by Slava Nakovska, these figures are lost spies, night managers, and shady longtime guests—as imagined during travels through the grand hotels and luxury resorts of Europe, and through the lens of past encounters with the secret service back in the days of late socialism. They playfully recall the real and fictitious Third Man-type stories from the time when Austria was divided into four Allied sectors, with Graz serving as the seat of the headquarters for the British occupation zone. John le Carré was stationed here as a young officer and had his first experiences in tradecraft in some of these hotel lobbies and bars during the early days of the Cold War. Some say that a new era of cold wars is beginning today, albeit with new tools, technologies, and players that make the old ones seem as quaint, toy-like, and even as innocent as Solakov’s figurines.