A place for imagination and dissent

It is happening now. In this time, at this place. From 10 May to 16 June 2019, a festival dedicated to artistic creations is taking place in Vienna. Wiener Festwochen open a space for multidisciplinary work that is visionary while being aware of history, that is international but anchored in the city.

The festival is driven by convictions and wants to share them extensively. In a time when large parts of the world are being ruled by antagonistic populism, framing politics as a battle between the virtuous “ordinary” masses and a corrupt elite, there is great value in the subtly layered space created by contemporary artistic practice. In societies where every statement made is constructed with a view to being transparent and open to (mis)interpretation and (mis)appropriation, there is an absolute need for language based on intuition. The arts, and live arts in particular, have the ability to reconnect with spontaneous gestures, to distance us from formatted discourses, to save a place for imagination and dissent. 

At Wiener Festwochen, you can experience visions that favour openness and curiosity for what is thought to be foreign and unknown. The festival strives to be an antidote to any form of self-sufficiency, any reflex of conservatism, to this tendency to protect what we are afraid  of losing. In order to counteract short-sightedness, it claims that the world is worth viewing, the windows worth opening. It does not envisage Vienna as a secluded city, but as a pulsating place of open-minded positions – a city that looks ahead. A world town that engages with shifting populations and identities and, beyond the touristic image, (re)affirms itself as a progressive and creative centre of the 21st century. 

Over a period of five weeks, the festival invites you to embrace complexity and nuances through the works of more than 40 artists, strong original voices that defy fashion and correctness. Not conceived thematically, Wiener Festwochen 2019 are not about something, but rather aim to give shape to it. During the opening weekend, starting in one particular district (Donaustadt), it will explore what a city festival could mean by presenting a series of artistic projects developed specifically for this neighbourhood and/or with local inhabitants that address communal life. 

During the festival, you have the opportunity to see the most recent works conceived by major figures of the international scene. But an equally central place is given to emerging artists from different parts of the globe. The programme forms an ensemble, a general score activating dialogue and friction between generations, aesthetics and positions. This year, the festival is presenting new ambitious pieces by Angélica Liddell, Faustin Linyekula, Krystian Lupa, Milo Rau and Markus Öhrn, among many others. They address burning questions of censorship and conformism, they dig into history to connect with the present. 

The festival is deeply interested in artists who broaden disciplines, redefining the porous space between the artistic languages. Highly acclaimed filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul is expanding cinema in the three dimensions of a theatrical space. His colleague Béla Tarr, another essential artist in the history of cinema, is offering Vienna a new work! Missing People is a film and an installation with live music that shines the spotlight on the invisible ones within the wealthy European city.

(Live) music plays an important role throughout the programme. Several choreographers are proposing  refreshing and unexpected ways to experience musicality and sound, from Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s brilliant take on Bach to François Chaignaud and Marie-Pierre Brébant’s interpretation of Hildegard von Bingen and Marcelo Evelin’s physical counterpoint to Schubert. 

Besides the presentation of remarkable artistic creations, Wiener Festwochen form a social space, a place for talks, workshops … and parties! Moving from Donaustadt to the Volkstheater and the Gösserhallen, the Festwochen Bar will be the place to meet and exchange ideas. 

We warmly invite you to join us.
It is happening now. In this time, at this place.


Christophe Slagmuylder (Artistic Director) 
and the Wiener Festwochen team

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