Discourse 10.09.21, 10:00–12:30, 15:00–17:30 Saloon Entry: Free

steirischer herbst '21


Part I
Competing with Public Space

Public space today is both increasingly controlled by security and saturated with advertising, making it more and more difficult to create artistic situations that people will notice. Often, it seems as if the only way to draw attention is by causing a public disturbance. But this frequently alienates broader audiences—who remain firmly in the hold of all the other attractions urban space has to offer. What can artists do today to work in and around the strictures and structures of public space, and is there even still such a thing? How can one engage with a broader public in securitized, overcommodified public space? What must contemporary art do to reinvent its audience in a time when it far too often addresses only a small group of the select?

Flo Kasearu
Tino Sehgal
Mounira Al Solh
In conversation with Ekaterina Degot and Christoph Platz
Respondent: Mirela Baciak

Part II
New Ecologies of Exhibition-Making

The recent lockdowns made it obvious that contemporary art is facing a crisis of sustainability. This does not only concern the mobility of international curators, artists, and artworks as well as the footprint they leave behind, but also the relation to audiences, be they the inhabitants of a city where a festival is held or the broader addressee of society at large. Other areas of culture such as film, fashion, or music were very successful at responding to the massive demand for culture while people were stuck at home, whereas contemporary art found itself doing quite well without an audience altogether, making it appear more and more like a wealth-dependent bubble about to burst. What are the options for expanding the public scope of culture, for reengaging with locales and locals? What role will the dialogue between theater, fashion, film, and visual art play to win over new audiences? Can contemporary art prove itself to be an “essential” service?

Christoph Gurk
Matteo Lucchetti
Aneta Rostkowska
Sabina Sabolović (WHW)
In conversation with Ekaterina Degot and David Riff
Respondent: Christoph Platz




steirischer herbst roundtables

Christoph Gurk (1962, Ratingen, Germany) is a curator and dramaturge. Between 1998 and 1999 he was a curator at steirischer herbst, from 2001 to 2009 a dramaturge under Frank Castorf at the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin. In 2009, Matthias Lilienthal brought him to HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, before joining joined Lilienthal at the Münchner Kammerspiele in 2015, where he served as dramaturge and curator for fringe theater and music and as a member of the artistic directorate until 2020. Christoph Gurk is currently director of the joint arts and culture project St. Pölten 2024 of the city of St. Pölten and the state of Lower Austria.

Flo Kasearu (1985, Tallinn, Estonia) is an artist whose videos, drawings, paintings, installations, and performances are all based upon social and collaborative processes. Her work ironically plays with the boundary of public versus private and personal versus political, tackling themes such as freedom, economic depression, nationalism, and domestic violence. She lives in Tallinn.

Matteo Lucchetti (1984, Sarzana, Italy) is a curator, art historian, and writer. His main curatorial interests are focused on artistic practices that redefine the role of art and the artist in society. Since 2010, he curates, with Judith Wielander, Visible, a research project and the first European biennial award for socially engaged artistic practices in a global context, founded by Cittadellarte—Pistoletto Foundation and Fondazione Zegna. Lucchetti worked as curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at BAK, Utrecht, in 2017–2018. He lives in Brussels.

Aneta Rostkowska (1979, Szczecin, Poland) is a curator and writer. In 2012, together with Jakub Woynarowski, she developed the concept of “gonzo curating,” a creative practice of the appropriation of any phenomena by means of constructing a semi-fictional narrative around it. In the spirit of “gonzo curating” they founded the fictitious institution “Wawel Castle Centre of Contemporary Art.” From 2016–2019 she worked as a curator at the Academy of the Arts of the World, Cologne. Since 2019, she has been director of Temporary Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art, Cologne. She lives in Cologne.

Sabina Sabolović (1975, Zagreb, Yugoslavia) is a curator and a member of the curatorial collective What, How & for Whom / WHW, formed in Zagreb in 1999 (together with Ivet Ćurlin, Ana Dević, and Nataša Ilić). WHW organizes production, exhibition, and publishing projects and is involved in long-term collaborative platforms and cultural politics. Since 2000, the collective has made major contributions to curatorial discourse, opening the nonprofit Galerija Nova in Zagreb in 2003. In March 2019, Sabina Sabolović and two other members of the collective (Ivet Ćurlin and Nataša Ilić) were appointed as directors of Kunsthalle Wien. Sabina Sabolović lives in Vienna.

Tino Sehgal (1976, London, United Kingdom) is an artist who works in “constructed situations.” Using voice, reenactment, language, movement, dramaturgy, and interaction to shape visitors’ experiences, Sehgal’s pieces are regularly staged in museums or galleries and continuously executed by trained individuals he refers to as “interpreters.” He lives in Berlin.

Mounira Al Solh (1978, Beirut, Lebanon) is an artist who works with a mix of videos, video installation, painting, drawing, embroidery, and performative gestures. Always self-reflexive and ironic, her work delves into feminist issues and personal histories and can be political and escapist all at once. She lives in Beirut and Zutphen.