steirischer herbst

Dictionary of War

From ABC weapons to civilian population, from parachute invasion to facts on the ground, from potato to collateral damage, from homesickness to resistance: Dictionary of War is a collaborative platform for creating 100 concepts on the subject of war.

festival center
Veronica Kaup-Hasler


Throughout its history, steirischer herbst has re-invented itself time and again. As a festival with which everyone in Graz (quite apart from guests, experts and artists from all over the globe) has developed a personal relationship – and their own opinion – in the course of almost forty years, it is just like a favourite football club: everyone knows better than the trainer who should not be on the bench, what strategy is right and what philosophy is wrong. For a festival that is, after all, not a popular culture show but rather an international platform of current, advanced art, which is not always easy to understand, such deep rootedness is at times a rather demanding situation, but above all it is an incomparable and inestimable wealth.

Indeed, as a festival, steirischer herbst is special in many respects, thanks to its multidisciplinary nature, its firm contemporary stance and the active exchange between artistic work and aesthetic discourse.
Its clear position as a festival of production and processes, of facilitation and initiation is also special – and increasingly necessary in the international politico-cultural situation. In 2006 again, there will be numerous works – theatre, visual arts, music and literature – that would not be possible without steirischer herbst and that will subsequently be shown throughout Europe and beyond. The involvement and link-up of international and regional artists, institutions and contexts is crucial, particularly since steirischer herbst did, after all, originate as from an initiative of local scenes.

Control, collaboration, participation and open sources

steirischer herbst does not have a specific theme in 2006 to which all artistic and theoretical aspects must subscribe. There are, however, important leitmotifs, red threads that we will be following, tying events together here and there. Ever and again, the political, social and aesthetic discussions of our time revolve around the techniques of external control and self-control that influence all areas of our life and art as well as the sometimes utopian, sometimes pragmatic models of collaboration, participation and open sources.

Questions of control, collaboration and open source are the subject of reflection in many of the festival’s projects. Aspects of security and certainty play central roles in a game played with the protection offered by names in a quest to research guilt-laden places. (Kunsthaus Graz, for example, is temporarily concealed behind the anagram Gutshaus Kranz.) The majority of this year’s exhibitions explores these questions in very different ways, sometimes associatively, sometimes specifically. Theatre works, for example by Fritz Kater or Richard Maxwell, deal with control, while the project “open_gates” transfers the production principles of open source software to aesthetic production, involving numerous artists in Graz.
Parallel to this, „Spielfeldforschung“ – the theoretical backbone of the festival – focuses on in-depth investigations: This is not academic science approaching art as an object, but rather a strolling, aimless way of exposing oneself to art.
A concert is an installation is a performance

Long before everyone started talking about networking the arts and calling for interdisciplinarity, steirischer herbst was already intermingling art, music, performance, dance, theatre, literature, architecture, film, New Media and theory. The years have seen various focal points but the festival has always been based confidently on the conditions of the different genres.
This year, steirischer herbst is devoting special attention to this aspect. Concerts are installations, exhibitions are performances, literary works are performative practice. These dramaturgical considerations are perhaps most obvious in “Concert for Greenland” by the Norwegian Verdensteatret, which presents itself simultaneously as a theatre work, an installation and a concert.
The artists of “Camp Show Styria” also bring together different artistic disciplines.For three and a half weeks, five caravans, designated for performing, developing and living, will be touring the city and the province, returning every evening, individually or together, to the festival centre that sends out its glow from the Stadtpark. If you wander as far afield as steirischer herbst, you need a centre – a place for artists, guests and friends to talk, discuss, celebrate and whatever else may come up.