steirischer herbst ’21, The Way Out

Various locations in Graz and Styria, Austria

Sujet: Grupa Ee
From September 9, 2021 until October 10, 2021
steirischer herbst, a festival that has always had a strong history of engaging with public space, is venturing radically out this year—outdoors, out of lockdown, but also out of the safe institutional bubble. In a time when art is searching for a way to become essential again, the festival explores ways in which artworks can infiltrate the new adventure of the everyday, be it in chance encounters, local workshops or public gatherings.
The engagement with the local—its contexts, its stories, its people—is related to the urgency of reducing unnecessary travel, but not just that. It resonates with the strangely painful and sometimes clumsy rediscovery of the outside world after a year of lockdown life and online culture—itself an invaluable tool for providing equal access to audiences no matter who or where they are.
As meeting strangers is slowly starting to become a regular occurrence again, it is time for contemporary art to meet its own invisible and long-neglected stranger—the non-initiated audience. The avant-garde translates into a vivid, explicit, and at times contemptuous rejection of populism, often demanding radical change. However, its art frequently addresses an elite group of viewers and remains inaccessible to most audiences. Today, with the future similarily uncertain as hitherto only in postwar times, the capacity to effect radical change may well lie in the hands of previously excluded audiences from places not yet permeated by contemporary art or who turn elsewhere to find answers to political issues. Can the popular be political without slipping into a populist trap?
All works shown at the 54th edition of steirischer herbst are new commissions. Participating artists and collectives include:
Yael Bartana, Uriel Barthélémi with Sophie Bernado & Salomon Baneck-Asaro, Sophia Brous with Faye Driscoll, Samara Hersch, and Lara Thoms, Phil Collins, Lars Cuzner, Žiga Divjak, Nicholas Grafia & Mikołaj Sobczak, G.R.A.M., Nilbar Güreş, Hans Haacke, Horst Gerhard Haberl, Felix Hafner, Heimo Halbrainer, Thomas Hirschhorn, Hiwa K, Dejan Kaludjerović in collaboration with Marija Balubžić, Bojan Djordjev, and Tanja Šljivar, Flo Kasearu, Boris Mikhailov, Paul B. Preciado, Die Rabtaldirndln, Tim Radya, Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping, Stefanie  Sargnagel, Tino Sehgal, Marinella Senatore, Mounira Al Solh, Hito Steyerl and Mark Waschke, Theater im Bahnhof, and Rosemarie Trockel.
Visitor and Press Center, ticket counter. Photo: Dietmar Reinbacher
Visitor and Press Center, artist posters, installation view. Photo: Dietmar Reinbacher
Visitor and Press Center, Murgasse 6, photo: Dietmar Reinbacher
Hans Haacke, We (All) Are the People (2003‒2017/2021), poster in public space, Graz. Photo: Johanna Lamprecht
Mounira Al Solh, Things My Neighbour Could Say as She’s Watching the Sunset (2021), poster in public space, Graz. Photo: Johanna Lamprecht
Hiwa K, sketch of Cooking with Mama (2021), courtesy of the artist
Dejan Kaludjerović, Alphabet Cubes, detail (2014), photo: © Dejan Kaludjerović
G.R.A.M., Radieschen (2021), courtesy of the artists
Marinella Senatore, sketch for Assembly (2021), courtesy of the artist
Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, photo: © Erik McGregor
Piotr Szyhalski, The Way Out Is the Way In (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Li Ran, Go Forward (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Nilbar Güreş, Human as a Virus (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Mounira Al Solh, Things My Neighbour Could Say as She’s Watching the Sunset (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Hans Haacke, We (All) Are the People (2003‒2017/2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Horst Gerhard Haberl, TUO YAW EHT (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Rosemarie Trockel, Carissima (2021), poster. Courtesy Sprüth Magers
Dana Sherwood, Inside the Belly of the Alpine Ibex (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Amanullah Mojadidi, Little Blue (2021), poster. Courtesy the artist
Thomas Hirschhorn, sketch for Simone Weil Memorial (2021), courtesy of the artist
Uriel Barthélémi with Sophie Bernado and Salomon Baneck-Asaro, photo: © Guillaume Schmitt / Le Manège de Reims
Photo: © Kristi McCluer / Reuters via Guliver