| So Close to the Beautiful Abyss
steirischer herbst ’19
A grand hotel on the edge of the abyss? The phrase that provided the title and the agenda for steirischer herbst ’19—Grand Hotel Abyss came from the pen of the philosopher Georg Lukács. In the early 1930s he used this striking metaphor to describe the attitude of the European intellectual and cultural scene who continued to party in an uninhibited, hedonistic manner, despite the looming rise of fascism. Doomsday scenarios viewed from a snug sofa, along with the culinary and cultural comfort zones known as “Genusshauptstädte” (pleasure capitals), demonstrate that the apocalypse can be shaped in a thoroughly pleasant and exciting manner today. This reader, accompanying the 52nd edition of the steirischer herbst, tracks these observations and explores the actual relevance of this historical context, as well as the significance of critical artistic attitudes, in essays, artists’ texts, and numerous illustrations.
Ariel Efraim Ashbel and friends; Cibelle Cavalli Bastos; Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz; Keti Chukhrov / Guram Matskhonashvili; Jasmina Cibic; Counterpositions (Eduard Freudmann, Thomas Geiger, and Elizabeth Ward); Das Planetenparty Prinzip; Jeremy Deller; Bojan Djordjev / Goran Ferčec; Elmgreen & Dragset; Ian Hamilton Finlay; Jule Flierl; Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze; Riccardo Giacconi; Grupa Ee; Jakob Lena Knebl and Markus Pires Mata; The Life and Adventures of GL; Daniel Mann and Eitan Efrat; Oscar Murillo; Erna Ómarsdóttir & Valdimar Jóhannsson; Boris Ondreička; Manuel Pelmuș; Michael Portnoy; Blanka Rádóczy / Vladimir Sorokin; Hanna Rohn; Andreas Siekmann; Nedko Solakov; Andrei Stadnikov with Vanya Bowden, Shifra Kazhdan, and Dmitry Vlasik; Theater im Bahnhof; Michiel Vandevelde; Gernot Wieland; Jaśmina Wójcik; Zorka Wollny; Artur Żmijewski
Every year for a month, steirischer herbst, the oldest interdisciplinary festival of contemporary art in Europe, turns the city of Graz and the province of Styria in Austria into a parcours of installative and performative works. Since 1968, the festival has offered a platform for public debates, critical positions, and dialogues between the arts.