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September 22–October 16, 2022
Every autumn, the Steirischer Herbst Festival blurs the lines between documentary reality and creative fantasy. This year, the reality of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine dominates all other factors. After a prologue of films by and about Ukrainian filmmakers in July, the ongoing conflict forces the festival to reflect on and revisit the various wars that have been etched into its history. Early years of the event were overshadowed by the Cold War and memories of World War II; later editions took place with the Yugoslav Wars taking place directly next door. These neighboring front lines remain, however, out of sight and out of memory in this pleasant area of Austria until the repressed makes a vengeful appearance. The overall theme of A War in the Distance addresses the larger, looming presence of battles mentally kept at bay.
Regarding the curatorial vision, it turns a portion of Steirischer Herbst into a museum of classical art this year. The focal point of the event is a sizable exhibition held in the spaces of the Neue Galerie Graz. Steirischer Herbst revisits the museum’s collection after reopening its historic entry and stages a number of interactions between rarely viewed historical artworks and modern pieces, several of which are brand-new commissions. The emphasis is on 19th and 20th century narrative and figurative painting, frequently overtly political, from both ends of the left-right spectrum, and frequently from Eastern Europe. Since the 1960s, Neue Galerie Graz has taken a leading position in this field, while it has also been influenced by crypto-colonial prejudices against former Habsburg territories. The show, which examines what these mean to the festival’s own deeper politics, analyzes the artistic expression of a world that is becoming more and more divided as a result of continuous colonialism, the fall of empires, and rising class tensions. The relationship between Neue Galerie Graz and Universalmuseum Joanneum will continue through February 12, 2023. The event is supported by a robust schedule of concerts.
Raed Yassin recalls the Lebanese Civil War and looks back on a theatrical puppet procession that took place in Beirut in the 1980s for the festival’s inauguration on September 22. On the first day, Ming Wong will also provide the world premiere of a musical lecture-performance that explores the Sino-American “ping-pong” diplomacy. Augustas Serapinas will change the context of the museum during a durational performance on the opening weekend to address tense lines of communication in emergency situations.
The highest church in the city will host a new Boris Charmatz performance that will explore the Greek concept of ekklesia, among other premieres (assembly). In a continuation of their long-standing collaboration, Theater am Bahnhof and steirischer herbst will mock the construction of homes atop Graz’s Schloßberg.
Other themes and memories are brought to life in freshly commissioned productions as the festival progresses. Giacomo Veronesi concentrates on adolescent male bodies that are used for military purposes. To face his own previously unspoken family history, Boris Nikitin revisits the concept of “coming out.” For the exhibition, Navaridas & Deutinger create unique creative guided tours.
Forum Stadtpark hosts an exhibition of lesser-known works by the renowned filmmaker Harun Farocki made against war. It is framed by a discussion program, linking the festival to its prologue, featuring panels with Tom Holert, Oleksiy Kuchansky, and Clio Nicastro; Armina Pilav, Nour Shantout, and Yosh; Michael Marder and Anton Tarasyuk; as well as Oleksiy Radynski and Herwig G. Höller.
Adding a note of humor necessary in difficult times, steirischer herbst revives the tradition of political cabaret in Forum Stadtpark’s recently renovated basement with shows by Verena Dengler, eSeL (Lorenz Seidler), and Les Trucs in October.
This year, the festival’s substantial presence outside of Graz was also renewed. Bus trips stop in Hartberg to see Haus lebt, a temporary cultural center housed in a historic structure, or in Eisenerz and other Styrian towns to see the anti-fascist architect Herbert Eichholzer’s architectural creations. Writers explore the vanishing memories of a 21,000-person refugee camp at Schloss Retzhof. For a project examining the remnants of modernism in industrial architecture, tours outside of Styria stop in Maribor, Ruden, and Villach.
The festival’s emphasis on literature is also growing. A special section of the literary magazine Manuskripte’s fall issue features Ukrainian authors’ poetry and war diaries, in addition to Out of Joint, the literary festival within Steirischer Kräutert. This segment was chosen by poet Galina Rymbu.
The solo show by Hito Steyerl at Kunsthaus Graz, a series of exhibitions discussing graphic design between art and advertising, and a dynamic program by the group APORON 21 in a former furniture store are other highlights of the 55th festival edition. Hannes Zebedin debuts his sculptural intervention in Rösselmühlpark as the first recipient of the Werner Fenz Scholarship by the City of Graz for Art at Public Space. All of this is steirischer herbst as well, just as the musikprotokoll and the herbstbar at Feinkost Mild in Graz.
steirischer herbst ’22 artists
Gabriel Abrantes, Friederike Anders, Boris Charmatz [terrain], Keti Chukhrov, Josef Dabernig, Harun Farocki, Jannik Franzen, Aslan Goisum, Assaf Gruber, Emil Gruber, Flaka Haliti, Heinali (Oleh Shpudeiko), Yuriy Illienko, Iman Issa, Zhanna Kadyrova, Rajkamal Kahlon, Iosif Király, KwieKulik, Kateryna Lysovenko, Ekaterina Muromtseva, Henrike Naumann, Navaridas & Deutinger, Boris Nikitin, Igor Friedrich Petković, Nihad Nino Pušija, Mykola Ridnyi, Willem de Rooij, Augustas Serapinas, Theater im Bahnhof, Giacomo Veronesi, Ming Wong, Raed Yassin; herbst Cabaret with Verena Dengler, eSeL (Lorenz Seidler), and Les Trucs
Artists from the collection of Neue Galerie Graz
Archduke Karl Stephan of Austria, Tina Blau, József Borsos, Hugo Cordignano, Constantin Damianos, Josef Danhauser, Sandro De Alexandris, Leo Diet, Anny Dollschein, Margarethe Donnersberg, DRAGO (Dragoš Kalajić), Franz Ehrenhöfer, Georg Eisler, Zea Fio, Emanuel Fohn, Hans Fronius, Krzysztof Glass, Gabriel von Hackl, Friedrich Holzhausen, Karl Jirak, Ludwig Kainzbauer, Eduard Klenk, Alois Krenn, Axl Leskoschek, Hans Mauracher, Wilhelm Mende, Dušan Minovski, Leopold Carl Müller, Anton Nowak, Adolf Pirsch, Carl Pischinger, Rudolf Pointner, Johann Gualbert Raffalt, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, Anton Romako, R. F. Rougon, Paul Schmidtbauer, Alois Schönn, Gustav Seyfferth, Fritz Silberbauer, Rudolf Spohn, Josef August Stark, Heinrich Stegemann, Karl Sterrer, Johann Wachtl, Franz Yang-Močnik
The festival is curated by Ekaterina Degot, Mirela Baciak, Dominik Müller, Christoph Platz, David Riff, Gábor Thury and created by the whole team of steirischer herbst. With curatorial advice by Goran Injac.
Curators of the exhibition in Neue Galerie Graz: Ekaterina Degot with David Riff, Christoph Platz, Mirela Baciak, Barbara Seyerl (steirischer herbst), with curatorial advice by Gudrun Danzer and Günther Holler-Schuster (Neue Galerie Graz / Universalmuseum Joanneum)
Press and professionals are now welcome to apply for accreditation for the opening days’ program as well as the performances and premieres during the festival.