From May 13 to June 18 the Wiener Festwochen will take place. A special emphasis this year lies on the combination of performative art with music and hospitality. We have assembled our highlights of this edition.
Reality got many faces. In Robert Walser’s short piece, the young Fritz – played by actress Adèle Haenel, who was the lead in the movie »Portrait of a Lady on Fire« –, feels totally unloved and fakes his own death by drowning to gain some sort of approval for his existence from the reactions of his parents and siblings. Choreographer Gisèle Vienne transforms the text with slow-motion movements and a drone soundscape by Sunn O)))’s Stephen F. O’Malley into a hallucinogenic theater piece in which contradictory bodies and hidden emotions depict authoritarian power relations.
For many years, François Chaignaud has worked at the intersection of dance and singing. In his group pieces, the music, often polyphonic in it’s nature, creates fluid, collective bodies. Starting from his keen interest in the early Renaissance and Baroque periods, he opens up an queer perspective on the aesthetic lines of these eras and is inspired to create sensual group pieces in which the utopian potential of the interplay between choral singing, dance and music is revealed. For the opening performance of Wiener Festwochen, a collaboration with the musician and choirmaster Geoffroy Jourdain, 13 dancing singers engage in a dialogue with the mound that dominates the stage. A tension between liveliness and transience.
2021 Peter Rehberg, for many years the head of the label Editions Mego and a pioneer of avant-garde electronic music, passed away. The label was an important engine for the electronic music scene in Vienna, but also gathered, almost cautious but always visionary, unique musicians of different generations from all over the world: from Oneohtrix Point Never, Kassel Jaeger, Klara Lewis to Mark Fell. In collaboration with Gisèle Vienne, who collaborated with Rehberg on her pieces for many years, Isabelle Piechaczyk has curated a night at Werk in his memory. With Caterina Barbieri, Chra, Electric Indigo, Fennesz, Finlay Shakespeare, General Magic & Tina Frank, Hecker, Inou Ki Endo, Jung An Tagen, KMRU, Nik Colk Void, Russell Haswell, Tin Man.
»One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, five, six, …« The theater of Susanne Kennedy and Markus Selg often feels like an ayahuasca trip of androids. Always negotiating the question between reality and simulation, their pieces exert a trance-like maelstrom, probably precisely because of their austerity. It is a match made in heaven with the formalistic opera »Einstein on the Beach« premiered in 1976, which breaks all conventions of musical theater and refuses narrative linearity. On this trip, the Minimal music of Philip Glass meets the uncanny images of Kennedy and the hypnotic stage design of Markus Selg, which suspend our perception and sense of time.
Vienna-based Laia Fabre and Thomas Kasebacher have not only appeared as performance artists but also as bone-soup chefs. With their format »RAW« they invite artists from the festival program – Joana Tischkau, Buhle Ngaba, Adama Diop and Mónica Calle – and chefs – Stephanie Herkner, Steffi Parlow, Max Stiegl, Julian Lechner – to exchange worlds, ideas, and tastes for a specially created menu where art and culinary delights melt together.
Performer and theatre maker Damian Rebgetz, who also holds a MA in Sound Studies from Universität der Künste Berlin, and has collaborated with Keren Cytter, Trajal Harrell or Ligia Lewis, elaborates with his new piece for musicians and actors form Schauspielhaus Wien a speculative history of listening. The starting point is the church bell, which was also an important form of communication in the past. His research expedition into bells and their oddities uncovers unexpected insights into communities, politics and power.
Since 2020 the collective Slavs and Tatars hosts the Pickle Bar in their studio in the Berlin district Moabit, a platform for gatherings between performances, interventions and apéritivo culture. Often different fermented items and spirits are involved, »a doubly bubbly answer to the bourgeois staples of wines and cheeses.« For Wiener Festwochen they have invited the artists Nora Turato, Selin Davasse, Veronika Merklein & Ela A. Sattler, Mai Ling and Onur Karaoğlu to host some evenings at the bar Spitzer in 1020 Vienna. A celebration of the principle of conviviality.
Also scheduled at Wiener Festwochen are a rare solo by Marlene Monteiro Freitas at MAK, concerts by Tarek Atoui and the opening of the AUSTRIAN MUSEUM FOR BLACK ENTERTAINMENT AND BLACK MUSIC, curated by Joana Tischkau, Anta Helena Recke, Elisabeth Hampe, Frieder Blume and Dalia Ahmed at Belvedere 21.
This article was created in cooperation with the Wiener Festwochen.