steirischer herbst 2007
Veronica Kaup-Hasler

"Close enough" describes a dynamic state, a moment in time: Being close enough - that is yearning, movement towards and away from each other. In love, in all relationships: Never close enough and then again too close. In geopolitics: Europe that is growing closer together, Africa that is drawing closer, the economic closeness of the globalised world. And in art: Art touches us when it repels or holds us, but also when it throws us back on ourselves, on a moment, a memory, a repressed occurrence perhaps. A fleeting sense of closeness. Or, on the other hand, abstract realisation, a premonition of clarity, sudden comprehension.
This too much and too little, this never being right, this paradox that is at the same time the driving force of interpersonal, political, artistic and performative force and motivation, is the leitmotif of steirischer herbst, the central thread that runs through the festival without wanting to be ostentatious.
You will find this leitmotif - sometimes more obvious, sometimes more concealed - in the numerous festival productions that, again this year, are almost all productions or co-productions of steirischer herbst. This is not without risk - after all, you never know in advance where the artistic process will take you. But it is important to uphold this tradition: to enable and not just present art. Once again, this gives rise to numerous works that will subsequently be on show around Europe and beyond.


40 years of steirischer herbst

Forty years - that is remarkable for an interdisciplinary festival of contemporary art and by no means a given. A particularly remarkable fact is that the public has accepted and continues to accept the herbst festival, for all its unwieldiness, agitation and challenge, as a key factor of cultural identification. At the same time, herbst is too young for wistful reflection, formal speeches and memorial exhibitions. Instead, we are seizing this occasion for more general considerations: Some of the works on show examine our stance towards earlier avant-garde positions (e.g. when the Norwegian Baktruppen appropriate a choreography by Merce Cunningham in a very individual way, or when Mathilde Monnier confronts her choreography with music by Ligeti - which was, incidentally, performed at the very first musikprotokoll forty years ago). Other projects, such as an audio tour of the memory and streets of Graz, in turn, follow the traces left in people's minds by herbst itself. And a dedicated herbst exhibition at the Stadtmuseum explores the relationship of art and the public sphere which has always influenced and continues to influence the festival's politics.


The Theatre

Scrutinising its own aesthetic positions but also its own structures is one of the essential traits of steirischer herbst. For the development of our festival centre, some forty international artists, theorists and architects took up the invitation of the Swedish artist collective International Festival to examine the fundamental principles of theatre as architecture in an eighteen-month process. The result is not so much an architectural spectacle as an attempt to comprehend the social event that is theatre as architecture itself. The Theatre sees itself as a performance and transforms everything about theatre that is not usually theatre into theatre - from the location in Karmeliterplatz square to the temporary building to the hopefully active discussions and celebrations. I would like to thank all artists, sponsors and the steirischer herbst team, who made this and all the other projects possible. We are really looking forward to meeting you at The Theatre and the numerous other steirischer herbst venues.

20/09 - 14/10/2007
steirischer herbst
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