steirischer herbst / marathon camp 21/09 – 28/09/2012

  © steirischer herbst

Truth is concrete

 

A 24/7 marathon camp on artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. 21/09 – 28/09/2012, Graz

“Art is a left-wing hobby.”
(Geert Wilders)

These have been months, years of unbelievably fast change all over the world. Uprisings in the Arabic world. Revolutions and counter-revolutionary attempts. Islamistic threats and the fetishisation of Islamistic threats. Demonstrations and repercussions in Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia … Persecution of artists – sometimes under a bright spotlight as in the cases of Pussy Riot or Ai Wei Wei, but more often unnoticed by a broader public. The nuclear disaster in Japan. The appearance (and disappearance?) of Occupy all over the world. The rise of the right wing in many countries – often as a side-effect of the financial devastations that threaten the whole European project. The fundamental destruction of social, educational and cultural structures … Where to start, where to end?

On our travels during the last one and a half years – be it to Zuccotti or Tahrir Square, to Japan after Fukushima or to Moscow during the wave of demonstrations, to London, Budapest, Athens, Istanbul, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Tunis, Rio or Buenos Aires – everywhere artists were among the first to get involved, among the first to join the political and social movements. But how did art, how did artistic strategies and tactics play a role? At a time when art, theory and practice seem to be constantly lagging behind reality? When art is seen more and more as a mere leftist hobby rather than a foundation of humanity?

We have learned that there are no easy answers any more. We don’t trust ideologies, even though we follow the ideology of capitalism. We know everything is contingent and relative. We replace critique with criticality, the political with the post-political, and neoliberal capitalism with cultural capitalism. But where the answers get too complicated, the desire for simple solutions is growing. And we – perhaps indeed leftist hobbyists – seem to have lost contact with a larger base. The constant awareness of the complexity of the notions of truth, reality or even politics seem to have manoeuvred us into a dead-end road: either we are too simple, or we are too complex, too populist or too stuck in hermetic eremitism. Either we include too much or we exclude too many.

On the common ground of art and activism

So what is to be done? Can art help solve problems that politics and society themselves have ignored for so long? Should art be a social or political tool, can it be useful? And why should artists know what to do when nobody else does?

“Truth is concrete” is what was written in big letters over Bertolt Brecht’s desk in his Danish exile – quoting Lenin quoting Hegel quoting Augustine. And in another corner there was – as Walter Benjamin writes in his notes – a little wooden donkey standing with a sign around his neck: “Even I must understand it.”
We take the possibility of concrete truth as a working hypothesis and look for direct action, for concrete change and knowledge. For an art that not only represents and documents, but that engages in specific political and social situations – and for an activism that not only acts for the sake of acting but searches for intelligent, creative means of self-empowerment: artistic strategies and tactics in politics, political strategies and tactics in art.

Art and politics always have been in strange love/hate relationships. “Truth is concrete” purposely ignores many of the borders, conflicts and resentments. Art is not activism, and activism is not art. But the common ground, the shared space is large and important. It offers a chance for art to be engaged, connected and relevant. And it offers activism a chance not to get stuck in ideology, routine and functionarism, a chance to stay unpredictable and sharp. “Truth is concrete” takes a close look at what happens where the differences between art and activism lose importance.

170 hours non-stop

“Truth is concrete” is a 24-hour, 7-day marathon camp: for 170 hours more than 200 artists, activists and theorists lecture, perform, play, produce, discuss and collect useful strategies and tactics in art and politics. A full grant program additionally invited 100 students and young professionals from all over the world. The marathon is a platform, a toolbox as well as a performative statement. It is a machine that runs non-stop – often too fast, sometimes too slow. All day, all night. It produces thought, argument and knowledge, but it also creates frustration and exhaustion. Having to miss out is part of having to make choices.

The marathon is the centre, surrounded by a camp-like living and working environment, a social space with its own needs and timings. “Truth is concrete” creates a one-week community, mixing day and night, developing its own jet lag towards the outside world – at the same time being open and free for everybody to join.

The programme of the marathon is accompanied by one-day-workshops, several durational projects and an exhibition. And – most important – by a parallel “Open marathon” that is based on self-organisation: its content is produced entirely by the participants – everybody is welcome to fill the slots, spontaneously or a couple of days in advance.

So is this all just too much? Maybe. But maybe we have no time to lose. The world keeps changing at a fast pace and the marathon is a work meeting – an extreme effort at a time that seems to need extreme efforts.

www.truthisconcrete.org

radiostream: www.truthisconcrete.org/radiostream/index.php

 

 

steirischer herbst

Adaptation

herbst-Ausstellung

Camp: Ausstellungsraum

Die Frage nach dem Verhältnis von Kunst und Politik richtet sich ja nicht nur nach außen. Sie geht auch an die Institution selbst und an die kuratorische Praxis: Die Prager Ausstellungsmacher Zbyněk Baladrán und Vit Havránek verstehen sich deshalb bei diesem Projekt mehr als Einladende: In einem gemeinschaftlichen Prozess entwickeln sie nicht nur die Form, sondern auch den thematischen Schwerpunkt von „Adaptation“ gemeinsam mit den Künstlerinnen und Künstlern – eher ein Labor für neue Paradigmen, Strukturen, Hierarchien, Kollaborationsformen als eine Ausstellung, ein kollektiver Prozess, der lange vor der Eröffnung beginnt und mit ihr längst nicht endet.
Alternative Modelle von Gesellschaft und Zusammenarbeit bilden die inhaltliche Klammer und werden gleichzeitig konkret erprobt. Eine von allen zusammengetragene Materialsammlung wird wieder und wieder adaptiert, Gruppen sortieren sich und sortieren sich wieder neu, Gemeinschaftliches steht neben Eigenem. „Adaptation“ schafft einen Freiraum innerhalb des institutionellen Kunstsystems sowohl für die beteiligten Künstler und Kuratoren wie auch für die Besucher, die zu Ko-Autoren werden. Denn die Freiheit der Adaptation ist das selbstermächtigende Instrument für den unbefriedigten Leser, Rezipienten, Zuschauer, brauchbare, nützliche eigene Bedeutungen und Verbindungen zu erzeugen. Wie die berühmten „Merzbau“-Wohnungsinstallationen wird die Ausstellung immer ein Vorschlag bleiben, eine Momentaufnahme, ein sich verändernder Kunst- und Lebensraum, in dem utopische Regeln für die konkrete Situation, Zeit und Ort adaptiert werden. Und die künstlerischen Arbeiten einerseits unabhängig bleiben und zugleich Teil einer gemeinsamen Anstrengung sind.

21/09 (14.00) – 28/09 (16.00)
00.00 – 24.00

29/09 – 13/10
Mo – Fr 12.00 – 20.00
Sa & So 10.30 – 20.00

Eintritt frei

Führungen
Fr 21/09, Fr 05/10 & Fr 12/10
16.30
22/09 – 27/09
12.00, 14.00, 16.00 & 18.00
Fr 28/09
12.00 & 14.00

Die Teilnahme ist kostenlos.

Shuttle service Wien – Graz – Wien
Sa 29/09 & Sa 13/10

 

© Ruhrtriennale / Klaus Grünberg

 

Heiner Goebbles / Carmina Slovenia (D/SLO)

When the mountain changed its clothing

Das Alte ist nicht mehr, das Neue noch nicht greifbar: Die vierzig jungen Sängerinnen des weltweit tourenden slowenischen Chors Carmina Slovenica – alle zwischen zehn und zwanzig Jahre alt – konfrontieren uns energiegeladen mit Geschichten und Fragen zum Abschied von ihrer Kindheit. Zwischen Souveränität und Abhängigkeit sind ihre Spiele nur scheinbar harmlos, in Texten von Joseph Eichendorff bis Marina Abramović erproben sie immer wieder ihre eigene Position und justieren die Machtverhältnisse untereinander, aber auch zu uns im Publikum stets neu.
Die neue Arbeit von Heiner Goebbels, einem der einflussreichsten Musiktheaterregisseure und -komponisten unserer Zeit, beschäftigt sich mit dem Umbruch im Leben der jungen Frauen in spannungsreichen Bildern, die auch Perspektiven des massiven sozialen und politischen Umbruchs der Region sind, aus der sie und die musikalische Kultur ihres Chores stammen. Im Zyklus der Jahreszeiten verwebt Heiner Goebbels Musik des renommierten Chors aus der Grazer Nachbarstadt Maribor, die in diesem Jahr europäische Kultur-hauptstadt ist, mit Partisanengesängen aus der Tito-Zeit, Klassik, Popmusik und eigenen Kompositionen zu einem großen Musik-theaterabend.

Konzept, Regie und Musik Heiner Goebbels
Bühne und Licht Klaus Grünberg
Kostüme Florence von Gerkan
Dramaturgie Matthias Mohr
Tondesign Willi Bopp

Künstlerische Leitung Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica Karmina Šilec
Musik Johannes Brahms, Heiner Goebbels, Sarah Hopkins, Lojze Lebič, Arnold Schönberg & Karmina Šilec

Texte Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Joseph Eichendorff, Adalbert Stifter, Gertrude Stein, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marlen Haushofer, Marina Abramović & Ian McEwan

Österreichische Erstaufführung

Fr 12/10 & Sa 13/10, 19.30
Helmut-List-Halle,  90’

www. steirischerherbst.at

 

Truth is concrete

“Art is a left-wing hobby.”
(Geert Wilders)

The Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Great Britain, Greece, Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Japan… A list in progress of countries as synonyms for crises, hopes, disasters that are changing the world so fast, we can’t keep track: The rise of the populist right, financial devastations threatening the whole European project, fundamental destruction of economical, educational and cultural structures, democratic uprisings, Islamic fundamentalism, threats of technological and ecological catastrophes – where to start, where to end?

What is the role of art in this race of events that we can barely follow, let alone properly understand? At a time when theory and practice are constantly running behind reality? When art is seen rather as a mere leftist hobby than a foundation of humanity?

We have learned that there are no easy answers anymore. We don’t trust ideologies, even though we follow the ideology of capitalism. We know everything is contingent and relative. We replace critique with criticality, the political with the post-political, modernity with post-modernity, and capitalism with added value. But where the answers get too complicated, the desire for simple solutions is growing. And we – perhaps indeed leftist hobbyists – seem to have lost contact with a larger base. The constant awareness of the complexity of the notions of truth, reality or politics seems to have manoeuvred us into a dead-end road: either we are too simple, or we are too complex, too populist or too stuck in hermetic eremitism. Either we include too much or we exclude too many.

So what is to be done? Should art help in solving problems that politics and society themselves have ignored for so long? Should art be a social or political tool, can it be useful? And why should it know what to do when nobody else does?

“Truth is concrete” is what was written in big letters over Bertolt Brecht’s working desk in his Danish exile –quoting Lenin quoting Hegel quoting Augustin. We take the possibility of concrete truth as a working hypothesis and look for direct action, for concrete change and knowledge. Big or small scale, loud and aggressive, or intimate and careful. Obscure or obvious. An art that not only presents and documents but that engages in specific political and social situations – and an activism that not only acts for the sake of acting but searches for intelligent, creative means of self-empowerment: artistic strategies and tactics in politics, political strategies and tactics in art.

www.steirischerherbst.at

 

 

Adaptation

herbst exhibition

Camp: Exhibition space

 The question as to the relationship between art and politics is not only directed towards the outside. It also addresses the institution itself and its curatorial practice: therefore, the Prague-based exhibition-makers Zbyněk Baladrán and Vit Havránek see themselves more as inviters in this project: in a communal process, they not only develop the form, but also the main topic of “Adaptation” together with the artists – a laboratory for new paradigms, structures, hierarchies and forms of collaboration rather than an exhibition, a collective process that begins long before the opening and that will continue long after it has ended.
Alternative models of society and collaboration are the thematic bookends, which will also be put to the test. A collection of material put together by everyone will be constantly adapted, with groups arranging and rearranging themselves, a new creating joint and separate output. “Adaptation” creates an open space within the institutional art system, both for the artists and curators taking part and for visitors, who become co-authors. For the freedom of adaptation is the self-empowering instrument for the unsatisfied reader, recipient and spectator, to generate his or her own usable, useful meanings and connections. Like the famous “Merzbau” housing installations, the exhibition will always remain a suggestion, a snapshot, a changing art space and habitat in which utopian rules are adapted for the specific situation, time and place. And in which the art works remain independent, while at the same time forming part of a joint effort.

 

21/09 (2 pm) – 28/09 (4 pm)
00.00 – 24.00

29/09 – 13/10
Mon – Fri 12 noon – 8 pm
Sat & Sun 10.30 am – 8 pm

Admission free

Guided tours
Fri 21/09, Fri 05/10 & Fri 12/10
4.30 pm
22/09 – 27/09
12 noon, 2 pm, 4 pm & 6 pm
Fri 28/09
12 noon & 2 pm

Participation is free.

Shuttle service Vienna – Graz – Vienna
Sat 29/09 & Sat 13/10

 

Heiner Goebbles / Carmina Slovenia (D/SLO)

When the mountain changed its clothing

The old is no more, the new not yet tangible: the forty young singers of the world-touring Slovene choir Carmina Slovenica – all between ten and twenty years old – confront us energetically with stories and questions concerning the farewell to childhood. Between sovereignity and dependency, their games only appear harmless. In the texts ranging from Joseph Eichendorff to Marina Abramović, they are constantly testing their own position and adjusting the balance of power amongst themselves and in relation to us, the audience.
The new piece by Heiner Goebbels examines the upheaval in the lives of the young women in exciting pictures, that are also perspectives of the massive social and political upheaval in the region from which they and the musical culture of their choir hail. Following the changing seasons, Heiner Goebbels weaves the choral music of this renowned choir from Graz’s neighbouring city Maribor, that is this year’s European Capital of Culture, with partisan songs from Tito’s era, classical and pop music and his own compositions, to create a grand evening of music theatre.

Concept, direction and music Heiner Goebbels
Stage and lighting Klaus Grünberg
Costumes Florence von Gerkan
Dramaturgy Matthias Mohr
Sound design Willi Bopp

Artistic director Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica Karmina Šilec
Music Johannes Brahms, Heiner Goebbels, Sarah Hopkins, Lojze Lebič, Arnold Schönberg & Karmina Šilec
Text Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Joseph Eichendorff, Adalbert Stifter, Gertrude Stein, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marlen Haushofer, Marina Abramović & Ian McEwan

Austrian Première
Fri 12/10 & Sat 13/10, 7.30 pm
Helmut-List-Halle
90’


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