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Under the title, Dialoge – varying every two years – contemporary and controversial topics are discussed in practical implementation and artistic-theoretical situations. The Dialoge react to international political and social events and global situations, communicated in the center's focal points I, II, and III. By doing this, the creative and academic potentials of Styria and the urban area of Graz are addressed, internationally linked and made visible. The final result can take on various forms and be presented in evening discussions, academic lectures, public readings, interactive performances or participatory art projects relating to Relational Aesthetics.

The first series of the Dialoge, Dialoge I: Art – Political Responsibility – Social Justice, will take place in cooperation with the Grazer Kunstverein on May 16th, 17th, 18th, and 21st, 2022, on the premises of the Grazer Kunstverein.


Dialoge I: Art – Political Responsibility – Social Justice  

The first series of Dialoge is entitled "Art – Political Responsibility – Social Justice." By doing this, the Center of Contemporary Art is setting a focus which, due to the socio-political events of recent years, is a topic of great relevance and significance. The focus will be on political conflict zones in Europe, with a particular emphasis on the developments in Ukraine. It will also include diversity, questioning and redefining concepts of identities that are closely tied to the LGBTQ+ community and issues around colonialism and imperialism.

Social justice has always been an important topic when considering the relationship between art and politics, such as when questioning and discussing images and artworks representing colonialism. Europe's role in the history of oppression becomes an issue, so by questioning these dominant narratives, artists and theorists shape a dynamic cultural approach. Academics and artists have the potential to sharpen the critical gaze on stereotypes that can be traced back to colonialist and imperialist backgrounds, while shedding light on aspects such as structural exclusion and oppression. Representation and visibility in resistance to prevailing asymmetries of power are critical in this context.

Theories of art, culture, discourse and (inter-)mediality are concerned with who is allowed to speak to whom, in which contexts and what effects are produced. Such ideas of having a "legitimate" voice and thus contributing to the writing of art and cultural histories are intertwined with bitter controversies about race, representation and authorship. In this regard, the Dialoge I: Art – Political Responsibility – Social Justice deals with various ideas that provoke a response connecting to the Myth of Home & Postmigration, Trust & Intransigence, Identity, and Forms of Resistance. The Dialoge I bring selected international viewpoints on these topics to Graz in order to enable a dialogue between them.

The first Dialog deals with "The Myth of Home & Postmigration." Complex experiences in the context of geopolitical movements call for a new understanding of homeland and home. Artists and academics use experiences of changes in location and new situations to develop an understanding of identity that eludes the establishment of a homogeneous community. At the same time, this undermines ideas of national and cultural belonging. Dealing with this kind of experience is understood as an impetus for developing transnational identities. Various issues related to globalization, the diaspora and migration become a part of this. Theorists and artists can thus decisively contribute to the understanding of life in contested territories and in a broader sense, to forming an alternative conception of "home." Against this background, Wolfgang Meixner and Erol Yildiz postulate in their publication "Nach der Heimat. Neue Ideen für eine mehrheimische Gesellschaft," the idea of being home in multiple locations and a divisible concept of home. "Home" is not understood as an exclusive concept but as an inclusive place that grants space for conflicts. Another key theorist working on issues around postmigration is educationalist and migration researcher Marc Hill. Renate Hansen-Kokoruš (Professor of Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Russian Literature) and Steffen Schneider (Professor of Romance Literature and Cultural Studies) will shed light on the topic of the first Dialog from the perspective of literature from and about South-Eastern Europe as well as the Mediterranean region. Filmmaker and historian Djordje Čenić was born in Linz in 1975 as a "Gastarbeiterkind" (Eng.: guest worker's child). His Austrian-Croatian background serves as a starting point for a political and personal examination of his own identity, which he addresses in his films. For example, his film "Unten" (2016) deals with the German term "unten" (Eng.: down there). Most guest worker families in the German-speaking area refer to Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, country of origin, identity-creating reference point, homeland, ex-Yugoslavia, cultural background, travel destination, war region and more when using the German term. The film "Unten" will be screened at the Dialoge 1: The Myth of Home and Postmigration.

The second Dialog places a special emphasis on European conflict zones with the title "Trust and Intransigence." The Dialoge 2 aim to provide a platform for an exchange between academics and artists, oriented towards issues in contested territories. It is intended to refer to current geopolitical hotspots, like the war in Ukraine. The non-profit organization ARTISTS at RISK (AR), (led by Marita Muukkonen and Ivor Stodolsky) is located at the interface between human rights and art. AR is dedicated to supporting persecuted artists, facilitating their safe departure from their countries of origin, sourcing accommodation in AR residences and curating related projects. For example, the painter and sculptor Saddam Jumaily came to Finland with the help of AR. International festivals such as "steirischer herbst" (Eng.: Styrian Autumn) also explicitly focus on the treatment of these current developments. In her curatorial and scientific work, the artistic director of "steirischer herbst," Ekaterina Degot questions the limits of what is (world)-politically feasible, emphasizing the imperial and colonial thinking surrounding the situation in Ukraine. Vedran Džihić addresses the topic of the Dialoge 2 with his research focus on democratic theory and democratization processes, European integration, conflict studies, civil society and protest movements, foreign policy and nationalism with the regional focus on Eastern and Southeastern Europe with special emphasis on the Balkans and the United States from the perspective of political science. The screening of Anri Sala's "1395 Days without Red" is a central contribution to the main topics covered in Dialoge 2: Trust and Intransigence. The film refers to the 1,395 days of the siege of Sarajevo, a time where wearing red or bright colors could attract the attention of snipers. Interethnic relations, ethnic conflicts and nationalism form backgrounds that play an essential role in South-Eastern Europe in connection with the Yugoslav Wars. Artists from this region, such as Jasmina Cibic analyze and react to these circumstances. Political rhetoric can be seen through art and architecture, with the state using cultural production to convey certain principles and aspirations. In her art, Jasmina Cibic researches and questions this kind of "soft power." For this purpose, she exposes the complex interweaving of art, gender and state power along with the construction of national culture.

With "Boa's Repair Shop, Flag Repair", Alexandra Hammond will offer workshops on repairing physical objects and metaphysical states. With this, the artist emphasizes that taking care of objects (coined by human labor, networks of supply chains and raw materials) means taking care of each other, the Earth and ourselves. "Boa's Repair Shop, Flag Repair" promotes repair as an act of love and solidarity for people of all backgrounds. "Boa's Repair Shop, Flag Repair" has an ethos to reshape our collective relationship with brokenness itself.

Theoretical and artistic reactions to gender stereotyping are a central contribution to the public debate on this topic. These viewpoints and their counterviewpoints are questioned, then these ideas are discussed and developed. In this context, corporeality can be understood as an instrument of power for liberation. David Getsy describes in his publication "Queer Behavior. Scott Burton and Performance Art" the queer experiences and sexual cultures of the 1970s that underpinned Scott Burton's performance art and sculptures. David J. Getsy argues that Burton looked to body language and queer behavior in public space — most importantly, street cruising — as foundations for rethinking the audiences and possibilities for creating art. Furusho from Puttkammer will focus on the Dialoge 3: Identity's main topic by dealing with frustration and futility from the perspective of endurance. Alexandra Hammond's participatory performance "Museum of Me" enhances awareness of a wide inner world. In the course of the Dialoge, Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca show their cinematic works "Terremoto Santo"/"Holy Tremor"; "Estás vendo coisas"/"You are seeing things"; "Faz que vai"/"Set to go." Their works include a documentary with a fictional character along with their protagonists; rappers in Toronto, Swingueira dancers in Brazil or pop singers in Germany.

Acts of political self-determination are often connected to artistic practices and thus represent forms of resistance to structural disadvantages, seen in the works of Yagazie Emezi, Ryan Cosbert, and Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński. The exhibition "Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America," conceived by Okwui Enwezor for the New Museum in New York, focused on questioning discrimination attributed to racist structures. The exhibition dealt with the concept of grief, remembrance and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities. At this current time when Black Lives Matter has gained as much global attention as ever, Mark Nash worked as part of the curational team implementing the exhibition and emphasizing historical moments such as the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power movement, both of which were also formed from similar backgrounds and problems that can be traced back to the colonization era.

In a different geographical context, Florian Bieber holds a central theoretical position in Southeast European Studies. The Center for Southeast European Studies (of which Bieber holds the position of director) critically examines past and current processes in South-Eastern Europe in close connection with regional and international institutions to give recommendations for improvements in public policy.

Academics and artists deal with political responsibility and social justice in various ways and thus create innovative fields of thought, which in the course of the Dialoge should be used productively. With this in mind, the Center of Contemporary Art responds to current topics and discussions and thus puts the knowledge and potential of the Styrian art and science scene in an international context. This creates an environment for a fruitful exchange of knowledge. Political responsibility and social justice are two topics that we must aim to keep within the current discourse with an effort to involve the public — as dialogue without borders.

Translation: Sarah Magdalena Huber

Univ.-Prof. Dr.

Sabine Flach

Center of Contemporary Art

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