Theme 2019

[Dieser Text ist leider momentan nur auf Englisch verfügbar.]

Made in Austria. Can we claim that there is Austrian art and design? What other influences make Austrian art? How many non-Austrian influences are there, in the production, in the generation of ideas, in the implementation? Is it even important what passport the creator might hold?

In the current political context reinforcing borders with walls has almost become acceptable nationalistic ideology – sometimes in disguise – spreads out all over Europe. At the same time our survival is more dependent on collaboration with other countries than ever, from petrol to food to our favourite gadgets – it has all become global. So has art and cultural production. So have our lives.

Austria, being in the centre of Europe, has a long history of multiethnic conviviality. The borders have changed and so have those of the countries around Austria. Two states became one (Germany) one country became two (Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Yugoslavia split up in even more parts. Provinces want to be separated (Catalonia), people speak different languages in the same country and many of us have travelled or lived in other countries. Europe is changing. All the time.

Looking at all those movements and changes, we wonder why we can’t get over the national states. What happened to the idea of a united multiethnic Europe? Can we not value and respect each our traditions and cultures without always pointing on the black sheep and use their trespassing or abuse of the system as an excuse for not finding better solutions?

Both curators, Vero Schürr and Lisa Überbacher, were born in Austria and grew up in a comparably protected and safe environment in Innsbruck. Both lived outside Austria for long periods of time. Do we have the right to curate the Austrian contributions? Are we still Austrian enough?Or is it the opposite? Is it even more important now to inspire the Austrian scene with inputs from the outside, to engage in collaborations with people from other corners of the world, who think scenography differently? To exchange and learn that what seemingly „has nothing to do with what we do“ (comment of an Austrian scenographer visiting the PQ 2015) can be an interesting starting point to create something that is maybe better than each of the parts alone.

Robert Menasse, the Austrian author, says in his opening speech the following (translated):

“Overcoming the national states: Try the following: Ask the Heads of State or Government or the Ministers of the European Member States, who today make decisions in the Council, what the idea and intentions were of every generation of politicians who negotiated and signed the Roman treaties. You will realise very quickly that they don’t know. And when you tell them, they answer: “Oh what? What are they talking about, what a crazy utopian idea!”

Yes, that is what the men and women, who are politically responsible today, say. They consider themselves pragmatists for managing – without a vision for the future – a crisis that they themselves so pragmatically produced.On the basis of historical experience, the founding generation has planned far into the future. Today, they only try to extend a bad present being oblivious to history and blind for the future. That’s the whole crisis. And that’s why it is time now.

What is the “crazy idea” of the Treaty of Rome, what is its “crazy utopia”? Sixty years ago the founding fathers had the radical insight that nationalism must be conquered at the root, that is, ultimately by the gradual overcoming of the national states. This thought is very important, that is what we need to remember today. The “EU peace project” sounds nice and boring for many. But it is instantly exciting again, and we immediately understand the contradictions that we experience today as a “crisis” when we think of it: In the beginning there was the concrete utopia, the declared intention: lasting peace by overcoming the national states!”