Grand Hotel Abyss
September 19–October 13, 2019
Various venues in Graz and Styria
Good organic food, exquisite wines, stunning landscapes, and little historical baggage to worry about: Austria is such a nice place to be. Unless Ibiza lures with even more opportunities on offer from Russian oligarchs. And then, suddenly, it all turns out to be fiction, catastrophe is imminent, and the conservative–right-wing populist coalition collapses.
Not just fate, but a curatorial search for the zeitgeist would have it that the uncanny joys of culinary and cultural tourism form the background of this year’s steirischer herbst—a 51-year-old interdisciplinary festival for contemporary art in Graz and Styria. This year, the festival takes the combination of holiday pleasure and political crisis as a point of departure for a meditation on hedonism in troubled times.
The title of the core program is Grand Hotel Abyss—a striking metaphor used by philosopher Georg Lukács to describe the European intellectual and cultural scene as it faced the approach of fascism. Lukács’s image rhymes with the self-presentation of Graz and the surrounding region of Styria as a pleasure zone, one of many bubbles of gastronomy, wellness, and organic comfort arising in times of heightened inequality, where praise of heirloom products might have creepy crypto-nationalist undertones.
steirischerherbst’19 blasts off on September 19 with an evening-long extravaganza, traversing the culinary-aesthetic delights and their darker side with contributions by Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz, Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, Elmgreen & Dragset, Jule Flierl, Jakob Lena Knebl and Markus Pires Mata, Erna Ómarsdóttir & Valdimar Jóhannsson, Manuel Pelmuș, Hanna Rohn, Gernot Wieland, and Zorka Wollny.
Installation projects at various locations tell stories of magic mountains and political gifts, speculating on cold wars past, and imagining how to improve sex in the future. With art works by Jasmina Cibic, Jeremy Deller, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze, Riccardo Giacconi, Grupa Ee, Daniel Mann and Eitan Efrat, Oscar Murillo, Michael Portnoy, Andreas Siekmann, Nedko Solakov, Jaśmina Wójcik, and Artur Żmijewski.
Newly commissioned performances, both site-specific and for the stage, tackle the abyss between the haves and have-nots, the apocalypse rising from its depths, and the hopes that it might bring. With new theatrical performances by Ariel Efraim Ashbel and friends, Keti Chukhrov / Guram Matskhonashvili, Bojan Djordjev / Goran Ferčec, Boris Ondreička, Blanka Rádóczy / Vladimir Sorokin, Andrei Stadnikov with Vanya Bowden, Shifra Kazhdan and Dmitry Vlasik, Theater im Bahnhof, and Michiel Vandevelde. Counterpositions, a cluster of performative as well as installative interventions around political monuments, includes projects by Eduard Freudmann, Thomas Geiger, Marlene Haring, and Elizabeth Ward.
Director and Chief Curator: Ekaterina Degot
Concept: Ekaterina Degot and David Riff
Curatorial Team: Mirela Baciak, Ekaterina Degot, Henriette Gallus, Dominik Müller, Christoph Platz, and David Riff
A more detailed program preview for the opening days is now available at steirischerherbst.at.
For the schedule of the full program, please visit our website mid-August.
The core program of steirischerherbst’19, consisting of new commissions by more than forty international artists, is accompanied by a rich and varied Parallel Program presented by local cultural institutions.
The Festival Pass is now available for purchase. Press and professionals are able to apply for accreditation online.