Nedko Solakov

Lost Cold War Spies (2019)

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.


Historic Hotels in Graz

Grand Hôtel Wiesler ♿
Grieskai 4–8, 8020 Graz 

Hotel Mariahilf
Mariahilferstraße 9, 8020 Graz

Das Weitzer ♿
Grieskai 12-14, 8020 Graz

Palais-Hotel Erzherzog Johann ♿
Sackstraße 3, 8010 Graz

Parkhotel Graz ♿
Leonhardstraße 8, 8010 Graz 

Schlossberghotel – Das Kunsthotel ♿
Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Kai 30, 8010 Graz

Free access

Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst ’19

Figurines executed by Slava Nakovska

Nedko Solakov (1957, Cherven Bryag, Bulgaria) is an artist who uses his work as a tool to tell stories that always contain a dose of humor and irony. His drawings, paintings, performances, and installations pose critical questions about deep-rooted societal norms and practices of contemporary art. Solakov lives in Sofia.