Festivals are special events. The festival as a communal ritual turns everyday life and the order of things upside down and opens up opportunities for spiritually, emotionally, and socially exceptional circumstances. In this sense, we also recognize the Wiener Festwochen as a FEST for the city, and together with the invited artists and thinkers, we want to celebrate a fantastic FEST inside and you, our audience. As you know, festivals are supposed to be celebrated as they fall. And we have occasions enough! In a sense, this is a large-scale intellectual and sensory experiment that produces utopian counter-designs. A FEST challenging the dominant patterns of thought and action, creating space for ecstatic experience, releasing potential, and producing utopias.
Together with us, experience one exceptional circumstance after another: With Ishvara, the new star of the contemporary art scene, Tianzhuo Chen, summons a powerful musical-heratical contest between gods. Les Robots ne connaissent pas le blues or The Abduction from the Seraglio imparts a glimpse of great feeling and love from an African as well as a European point of view. And Jonathan Meese and Bernhard Lang transform the Theater an der Wien into a green hill in a distant revolutionary year of the future. Immerse yourself in the different worlds of the Performeum, our new temporary museum for performance in the 10th district. Discover new aspects of discoveries through the curatorial perspective of Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, the curator at large of Documenta 14, who, together with Pauline Doutreluingne, is implementing an installative-performative festival-show. With the aid of our initiative, the Academy of Unlearning, throw overboard everything you think you know, and let us wash your head and feet in our inflatable hammam. Dance the night away at our new four-day music festival, HYPERREALITY, and perceive the club as a utopian space. Join Derrick Ryan, Claude Mitchell, and their group, Saint Genet, and take part in a visionary performance of the cross-border movements, whose point of departure is a historical tragedy in an America that is changing to the greater metaphor of a dying kingdom. Or ask yourself, as Romeo Castellucci does in Democracy in America, what life could be like after the end of politics. An abundance of co-productions, premieres, and classics awaits your personal discovery, as well as workshops, discourses and participatory projects throughout the city.
Since its beginning 65 years ago, the Wiener Festwochen has always understood how to fill vacancies, to bring new impulses into the city, and to take up the cause of international networking and utopia. It has made a name for itself in theatre and music theatre, as well as in the fields of fine arts, music, and performance. It has combined spectacle and avant-garde, participation, discourse, and glamour into one of the most important European art festivals: an artistic and social emergency situation! We want to tie in with these strands and become the hosts of a five-week festival in an exceptional circumstance, which acts as a hinge between artists' inner positions from around the world, and you, our audience.
The only thing we do not have are simple answers to complicated questions. We are committed to diversity, letting our guest curators from Accra, New York, and Berlin enrich our programme from their perspective – just so that you can rightly say: the Wiener Festwochen is Vienna's fifth season. Culture everywhere! From high to sub- and counterculture: the art world is your oyster. As a festival of open arms, we want to redefine hospitality: Our artists most sincerely welcome you. All you need to do is come and join us. It will be worth it!
We are looking forward to an exciting and exhilarating time together from 12 May to 18 June.
Yours truly, Tomas Zierhofer-Kin