Press information

Unexpected Encounters


21. 9. 2013, 14:00

22. 9. – 17. 11. 2013

Mit / with:

0gms (Sofia)
Kamen Stoyanov, Ivan Moudov in collaboration with Nemanja Cvijanović, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkáčová, Pravdoliub Ivanov

Beirut (Cairo)
Jens Maier-Rothe, Sarah Rifky, Antonia Alampi, Habiba Effat in collaboration with Malak Helmy, Hassan Khan, Mada Masr, Jasmina Metwaly

Kontekst collective (Belgrade)
in collaboration with Nina Höchtl, KURS, #Bojana Piškur & Ðorđe Balmazović (REC / Škart)

Co-produced by steirischer

Press Information

With the leitmotif “Liaisons Dangereuses”, the festival steirischer herbst is putting up for negotiation the many—necessary (?) strategic, transitory, precarious—alliances and cooperative relationships that come to life “after the revolution”, with an aim to conceptualise and pursue both artistic and cultural—and, most especially, political—“production” under altered conditions. Which political spaces have now opened up? Which still remain contested or are in danger of quickly disappearing again? Have new players become established? Has the capacity to act newly shifted among the players? Who is starting to write the story of such upheaval, applying it to a new societal order? Which continuities and discontinuities are taking effect? How can artistic practices even succeed in translating the complex political, institutional, and social antagonisms into a materiality of representation?

“Unexpected Encounters” is a metaphor for the attempt to convert, over the course of eight weeks, the institutional space of Camera Austria into a realm of unexpected exploration of these questions, which may initially be characterised by misjudgements, inappropriate assumptions, and dubious cultural differences. A number of initiatives and groups from various countries—whose “revolutions” and political/societal upheaval at times dates back over twenty years or more—are invited to start developing the format for a transfer in collaboration with Camera Austria: How can these political issues be transferred into the realm of cultural production without replacing political aspects with cultural ones and thus making them disappear?

“Decisions are already made in politics based on the description of what is determined to be a situation, problem, or crisis.” (Jacques Rancière)—Or as subversion within society, or as a phase of transition to new social and political realities. So the question of the “Liaisons Dangereuses”—the leitmotif of this year’s steirischer herbst festival—begins with the description of a societal field where this may indeed be explored. Decisive here is the origin and context for addressing or problematising this description—though it must not be assumed that distance to the events automatically diminishes awareness thereof.

Instead of once again dealing with questions of truth, reality, or authenticity, the issues here rather involve the parameters for perceiving events within society and politics; these are questions of interpretation, translation, of expectations, priorities, and strategic decisions.
Is it necessary for artists and cultural initiatives or institutions, which are active in countries experiencing societal conflicts and upheaval, to automatically define themselves through these conflicts? Is not this expectation itself just an outrageous ascription of cultural and political identity? The project “Unexpected Encounters” has an open beginning, for only those topics that the individual collectives explore on site end up becoming expressed through language and visual presentation. It is not a gain in authenticity that we are expecting, but rather the beginning of a debate full of unexpected collisions of ideas and concepts, so that we may leave behind those ascriptions that are currently being divided into antagonisms of a religious, political, cultural, or ethnic nature.


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