Austrian culture shines bright

WHILE 2014 was a strong year, it was still very much focused on adapting to new premises after the Austrian Cultural Forum in Slovakia (RKF) relocated the year before and organisation is looking to hit its stride in the years ahead.

L-R: B,. Trinkl, RKF head; Kunsthalle head J. Čarný; E. Wurm; Austrian Ambassador Helfried CarlL-R: B,. Trinkl, RKF head; Kunsthalle head J. Čarný; E. Wurm; Austrian Ambassador Helfried Carl(Source: Zuzana Godálová, Courtesy of RKF)

Brigitte Trinkl, head of the RKF, notes that the Forum had 68 events last year and says there is little reason to think they will let up anytime soon.

“The dynamics that have been shown in the location are reflected also in the flow on audiences and the programme,” Trinkl said.

The new premises can host up to 100-150 people and the hall is flexible, changing from a gallery into a concert hall in a short period of time. Located just opposite the Presidential Palace, in a place called Suché Mýto, the space forms a sort of “island” in the middle of a street, flanked from both sides by pavement, inviting passers-by to just pop in or have a look through the big glass walls.

“We have tried new formats of evenings, for example the clubbing – bringing young successful Austrian bands, e.g. the Florian Horwath Ensemble; and singer Clara Luzia with band, to try to entice also Bratislavans to a dynamic, interactive clubbing which attracted also unexpected impromptu visitors who came without previous planning,” she added, saying that they would like to continue this series in the same style.

“Culture is a big part of the role of the Foreign Ministry,” Trinkl said, “and the concept is now focusing more on creative modern art and future-oriented culture, with the leitmotif Austria as a land of dialogues and women in art and science as focus. As for genres, architecture and film remain the central point, together with dance, new media and more. Geographically, the stress is shifting to the western Balkans and to neighbouring countries; which, of course, include Slovakia.”

Her words are confirmed by the past events including the exhibition of Austrian designer Wolfgang Haipl in the Wood and Forestry Museum in Zvolen and later another exhibition of his in Umelka gallery in Bratislava. RKF hosted the Salon of Wooden Constructions, a non-competitive overview of modern architecture of wooden constructions and welcomed among others the Austrian architect Matthias Hein.

Walter Kanov’s photo-exhibition Changes, mapping European cities, was a bridge between photography and architecture.

Another photographer, young Austrian Klaus Pichler, was part of the November Month of Photography with his portraits of masked people.

Looking east

“We operate throughout Slovakia,” Trinkl said, pointing to events that were tied to Košice’s year in 2013 as the European Capital of Culture. For instance, three Austrian artists in residence at the Kasárne Kulturpark barracks that spring — Andreas Duscha, Daniel Hafner and Roswitha Weingrill.

Weingrill is currently exhibiting her And Some Place Else exhibition in the RKF’s Bratislava residence, in Astoria Palace, Hodžovo Square 1/A. Duscha exhibited his experience from a boat trip from Vienna to Bratislava on the Danube during which a camera installed on the boat recorded its course; the exhibition was typically called Cry Me a River. Daniel Hafner will exhibit in September in the RKF.

RKF participates regularly in local Sound City Days and in White Night / Nuit Blanche – and plans to continue this also in autumn 2015, Trinkl said. Lara Kustrich performed in Košice in spring 2014 with the Slovak Philharmonic.

Visual arts were strongly represented last year, from the exhibition of legendary Austrian artists Ernst Fuchs in the Bratislava City Gallery, to the exhibition of world famous Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, Everything is Different, in the recently opened Bratislava Kunsthalle. One of its rooms, Lab, meant for smaller progressive solo exhibitions, was opened by Austrian Karl Salzmann, a sound-kinetic-experimental artist.

The Danubiana Gallery in Čunovo, close to the capital, hosted exhibitions of Hermann Nitsch, and the Danube Biennale exhibition of young artists under 35, connected with the Prix Danubiana opens on August 29. The exhibition of Christian Ludwig Attersee – a Bratislava native – is one of the big upcoming events, planned for October, Trinkl said. In June, a festival of animated films, Fest Anča in Žilina, will also host Austrian filmmakers.

Another cultural genre that needs no translations is music and Austria is widely represented – from classical music (Lara Kusztrich in Košice; Vienna organist Wolfgang Capek in Slovak Philharmonic-SF, a concert by Stefan Stroissnig), to modern classics (traweegenensemble in SF), to jazz, rock and pop (Susana Sawoff supporting Gregory Porter, DJs B. Visible and Crum in Nu Spirit Club).

Austrian theatre is represented by a performance of Vienna Burgtheater – after 36 years break – at the Eurokontext festival on June 12.

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