Since its founding half a century ago in 1968, the festival has provided a platform for new productions, provoking and shaping public debates in a variety of forms across disciplines and media. Reinventing itself many times over, steirischer herbst has always redefined the terms of the conversation about what culture might mean in a changing contemporaneity.
The 52nd edition of steirischer herbst titled Grand Hotel Abyssis a striking metaphor used by philosopher Georg Lukács in the 1930s to describe the European intellectual and cultural scene in the face of approaching fascism. 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.
As the core program of Steirischer herbst ’19, Grand Hotel Abyssconsists almost entirely of newly commissioned works by more than forty international artists. These contributions take the form of installations, performances, contemporary and experimental music as well discursive projects. The core program is accompanied by a rich and varied Parallel Program by local cultural institutions.
A Spectacular Opening Night
The festival blasts off on 19 September with an evening-long extravaganza, traversing culinary-aesthetic delights—and their darker sides—with contributions by Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz, Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, Das Planetenparty Prinzip, Elmgreen & Dragset, Jule Flierl, Jakob Lena Knebl and Markus Pires Mata, Erna Ómarsdóttir & Valdimar Jóhannsson, Manuel Pelmuș, Gernot Wieland, and Zorka Wollny. The picturesque courtyard of the Grazer Landhaus and the opulent interior of Congress Graz will serve as elegant backdrops for the opening extravaganza, which will surely be a night to remember.
During the Festival
From 19 September to 13 October Grand Hotel Abyss will unfold across the city of Graz and the region of Styria as a four-weeklong, densely woven curatorial narrative with artworks, installations, and film productions by Turner Prize nominee Oscar Murillo, Jasmina Cibic, Jeremy Deller, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze, Riccardo Giacconi, Grupa Ee, Daniel Mann and Eitan Efrat, Michael Portnoy,Andreas Siekmann, Nedko Solakov, and Artur Żmijewski. New performances, both site-specific and for the stage, will be presented by Ariel Efraim Ashbel and friends, Keti Chukhrov / Guram Matskhonashvili, Bojan Djordjev / Goran Ferčec, Boris Ondreička, Blanka Rádóczy / Vladimir Sorokin, Hanna Rohn, Andrei Stadnikov with Vanya Bowden, Shifra Kazhdan and Dmitry Vlasik, Theater im Bahnhof, and Michiel Vandevelde.
Among the collaborations who stand out is with Literaturhaus Graz, titledThe Life and Adventures of GL, the installation takes an artistic-curatorial look at the fictions and myths around Georg Lukács. Another great partnership is with Schauspielhaus Graz, where the director Blanka Rádóczy develops a staging of the latest (only recently translated) novel by Vladimir Sorokin, in which books are used to fuel barbecue grills for lavish meals consumed by the rich and powerful.