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Yes, That Is Art. And Yes, It Needs To Be Moved…

In the rather fragile world of arts and culture, there is a huge demand for industrial trucks and transport systems. When it comes to moving works of art, it takes a highly skilled and deft touch to operate forklift trucks with the millimeter accuracy and precision required. Damage of any kind must be avoided at all costs. Forklifts have even featured as part of an art installation and had their design elevated to art status, blurring the boundaries between both worlds at times. KION Group brands and products worldwide play a key, if often invisible, role within the sphere of arts and culture.


It was business as usual at the Locarno Film Festival, with attendance back to pre-pandemic levels. The European movie-elite presented their work to a large audience at the open-air event, with a select jury panel choosing the best films of the year. Grand gestures on the big screen—supported by little helpers. Behind the scenes, the nimble, pale turquoise KBD+ Series forklift trucks from KION subsidiary Baoli played a key role in constructing almost 8000 seats in the Piazza Grande and installing the open-air screens. The vast majority of visitors are unlikely to have even noticed their contribution and were only aware of what was happening on the screens.

Linde Forklift Trucks in Action at the Linz Rekordfest

This epitomizes the role of logistics in the world of culture: transport and industrial trucks remain—often quite literally—behind the scenes, where they play an invisible but indispensable role. According to Peter Markschläger, Head of Marketing & Communications for the Austrian market at KION, this area forms part of their core business. “Music and cultural festivals—and the festival season in general—generate a period of peak demand for the hire and rental of our forklift trucks,” he says.

Krone-Fest in the Austrian city of Linz is a case in point. The Linde Material Handling 3.0 and 3.5 tonne trucks were used round the clock during the preparations for this free open-air festival. “With an average of 200,000 people attending Krone-Fest, it is vital that everything goes smoothly in the run-up. Be it loading and unloading staging, transporting and positioning barriers, or delivering musical equipment, lighting, and sound systems—our forklift trucks can handle it all.”

Linde forklift at the Krone-Fest in the Austrian city of Linz.

Linde forklifts play a similar role at the Christmas market on Vienna’s Rathausplatz, where their main remit is providing logistical support to stall holders. “Delivering and picking up thousands upon thousands of mulled wine cups and plates is rather a mammoth task,” says Peter Markschläger. Luckily, Linde Material Handling’s industrial trucks are equipped with special zinc prong extensions that enable faster loading and unloading of tableware pallets on and off the trucks. Once again, their role is indispensable but invisible to market-goers.

Linde forklift at the Christmas market on Vienna’s Rathausplatz.

The Invisible Hand of Logistics

Those who attend the NordArt art exhibition in the peaceful town of Büdelsdorf in Schleswig-Holstein always get to see something really quite special. Think extremely heavy stone babies, gigantic rams, and creatures that are half-human, half-beast. Czech artist David Cerny never fails to amaze with his exciting trends showcased at this fair, which has been taking place since 1999. Wherever you look, a sculpture takes center stage. Some of them may be vast and extremely heavy, but they can also be fragile and priceless. That is why Cerny enlists the help of KION brand forklift trucks to position his works or, in some cases, even move them several hundreds of kilometers.

This was certainly the case at the celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of German reunification. On the occasion of this jubilee, Cerny decided to transport his world-famous Quo Vadis statue from the German embassy in Prague (Czech Republic) to Berlin—a whole 400 kilometers away. This transfer was intended to be a symbolic act, forging a metaphorical link between two European capital cities. But for that to happen, there were several logistical hurdles to jump over first. From the safe loading of this statue, weighing several hundred kilograms, onto the flatbed truck in Prague, to its unloading in Berlin—the Linde LPG forklift carried out the job with reliability and precision. The statue then stood on Walter Benjamin Platz near the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin for several months—on the exact spot where it had been put down by the prongs of the Linde forklift truck. While the role of the industrial truck was once again invisible, its contribution to Cerny’s vision was indispensable.

Artist Joseph Klibansky is well known for golden statues towering several meters in height, as well as his unusual installations. He too relies on KION Group products to move these grandiose works with the level of precision they require. “The forklift truck has to maneuver through small spaces between fragile works of art and position items with absolute precision,” says Klibansky. And their help could be required at any given moment, as Klibansky is constantly rearranging his installations, coming up with new ideas, and searching for new ways to view his own work. All this has added up to a decent distance: The STILL E20 forklift truck has already driven 120,000 kilometers for him and there is no end in sight. As an artist, Klibansky is concerned with one thing above all else, and that is continuously adjusting and adapting his vision. His visitors are certainly happy, as they get to marvel at an ever-changing line-up of exciting works of art, made possible by the indispensable contribution of the STILL forklift truck.

The indispensable contribution of the STILL forklift truck.

KION, Arts, and Culture

Alongside modern art galleries, there are also timelessly beautiful amphitheaters dating back thousands of years that make use of KION Group products. One such example is the Arena di Verona in Italy, where the legendary opera festival takes place every year. Many tons of materials have to be moved during the preparations, all timed to the minute and placed according to an exact plan. Before the audience pours into the amphitheater, KION subsidiary STILL’s powerful electric forklift trucks provide scenery transport like clockwork. Guests will discover spectacular stage sets, castle backdrops, orchestra pits, and thousands of seats, all perfectly aligned with one another. By the time the public see all this in place, the STILL forklift trucks have already withdrawn back behind the scenes.

But that is not always the case. “The Linz Klangwolke (Sound Cloud) music and art festival used our forklifts in a particularly unusual way,” says Peter Markschläger. “This posed a real challenge, for more than just logistical reasons.” This time, those playing the intralogistics role were not invisible, but instead part of the performance themselves. In an adaptation of the famous tale entitled “Moby Dick – Jagd bis vor die Tore von Linz” (Moby Dick – Hunted Right up to the Riverbanks of Linz), six Linde forklift trucks were part of the stage set, where they recreated the movement of ocean waves in front of a 100,000-strong audience on the banks of the Danube. “The main challenge was coordinating all the participants,” explains Markschläger. “We had dancers performing tricks on moving forklifts, so we had to work closely with the safety team when bringing the director’s ideas to life on stage.” An unusual task that was mastered with style and produced spectacular results.

Dancers performing tricks on moving forklifts.

Timeless Preservation Thanks to Dematic

Transporting, loading, and positioning works of art, or assisting in the preparations for a large cultural event, are not the only ways the intralogistics sector contributes to the world of arts and culture. When it comes to preserving history and creating a sense of timelessness, the invisible hand of intralogistics is never far away. The National Library of Israel, known as the “source of knowledge”, is home to priceless cultural treasures. Millions of titles are stored here and are available to anyone with a thirst for knowledge. After deciding on a particular title, you can order it at the press of a button and, just a few minutes later, the book is ready for you to collect at the requested location.

This is made possible by the Automated Library System (ALS) from KION subsidiary Dematic —a system that is not only award-winning, but also well-known beyond the borders of Israel. In essence, it involves an automated small parts warehouse that was adapted to meet the requirements of libraries. A complex system is in operation to enable the immediate supply of the requested title. The software registers the order, the ALS checks the location of the book, and then delivers it in one of 50,000 containers to the pick-up point at speeds of up to six meters per second. A peek behind the scenes reveals a fast and highly efficient system that the visitor is not even aware of. Over four million titles, all available at the drop of a hat.

Timeless Preservation Thanks to Dematic.

Linde MH and Porsche: Opposites Attract

On the topic of product design, it is possible for art and intralogistics to converge in a way that resolves supposed differences. One such example is the design collaboration between Porsche Engineering and Linde Material Handling . The collaboration between the two companies ranges from the conception of slewing gear drives to the aesthetic reinvention of Linde Material Handling in the early 1980s. The Porsche designers’ concept has become a distinctive trademark of the Linde forklift truck and emphasizes Linde Material Handling’s brand values of quality, ergonomics, and robustness.

Both the Linde X20–X35 and the Linde H20–H35 electric counterbalanced forklift trucks mark a key milestone, and can easily match the performance of internal combustion forklift trucks. This represented a golden opportunity to rethink and redesign the shape of the forklift. Stefan Stark, Designer and Team Leader at the renowned engineering services provider, rose to the challenge. “Take cars, by comparison: We usually think cars are attractive if they are wide and have a flat roof line and large wheels. A forklift truck is almost the exact opposite.” That is why they agreed on horizontal stripes and a wide “standing” to make the forklift appear larger and more stable. The most remarkable thing about it is that these design changes and devices are not intrusive. Instead, they are perceived on a subliminal level and only consciously registered upon a closer look.

Anyone who thought that arts, culture, and KION had nothing to do with each other was rather mistaken. Be it opera festivals, transporting statues, art installations, or design collaboration, these examples clearly demonstrate that both worlds are interconnected and the same applies both in front of and behind the scenes.

The Porsche designers’ concept has become a distinctive trademark of the Linde forklift truck.