Close Ties

The summer semester program is dedicated to the constellations of interests underlying the economic relationships and substantive collaborations between agents from the social subsystems of business, politics, education and culture. Taking as springboard the example of the «close ties» between Lakeside Science & Technology Park and Klagenfurt University—a catch phrase that regularly appears in texts about the Technology Park—we want to shed light on the productive yet problematic aspects of the financing of science and art through «public» (politically administered), «private» (corporate) and «semi-public» (foundations) funds. Partic - ularly in a political landscape like that of Carinthia, which grants only a limited scope of action to non-conformist and critical projects, cooperative ventures with «the economy» or with private sponsors offer a welcome alternative.On the other hand, negative experiences with rivalry-oriented and profitminded developments at the universities of late, as a result of EU policies geared toward global competition, have starkly high lighted the potential risks involved when scientific research and teaching are aligned according to economistic parameters. In the art field there is evidence that projects with corporate financing sometimes tend to interpret the limits of artistic freedom more restrictively than is the case for state arts funding with its defined legal framework. An equally significant cause for concern is the tendency of corporations not only to devote their culture budgets to sponsoring projects by others, but to increasingly initiate their own as well, with their own commercial interests dictating the program and their employees doing the curating.
What opportunities and problems do such «partnerships» present for producers of culture and knowledge—from university programs that are supported or made possible at all by «third-party funding» to «critical» art programs as a component of corporate image-making? Which strategies emerge from the maneuvering involved between dependency, pragmatism and critical distance? These questions will be addressed in an evening discussion in April, kicked off by a talk by sociologist Ulf Wuggenig on the changing social function of the university. After this, the recent publication «Zur Kritik europäischer Hochschulpolitik» («On the Critique of European University Policies») will be presented, followed by a discussion with the editors and representatives from the arts who will share their own experiences and explore possible options for action. The—by all means programmatic—exhibition «Capitalism & Schizophrenia» by artist Senam Okudzeto will be shown for the entire semester. Taking the example of the real case of a Swiss con-artist who made clever use of the incentives offered to attract business to the region, and juxtaposing this incident with Western notions of the all-pervasiveness of corruption in Africa, the exhibition demonstrates how difficult it is becoming in our global economy to distinguish between «respectable» models for business success and the pursuit of crooked personal interests.
In May, artist and theorist Zeigam Azizov will give a lecture on the interconnections between the current international boom in art biennials and the oil business, revealing affinities between political, economic and artistic interests and investigating what kind of new form of art these ties are spawning.
On three evenings in May, a program compiled by film curator Madeleine Bernstorff will look at various artistic critiques of ongoing economization in our educational institutions, ranging from a purely documentary approach to subversive activism. The films in this program expand on the semester’s rather narrow thematic focus, spotlighting some systemic factors involved in individual economic failure that are often overlooked.
Looking back from the disillusioned distance of two decades of post-Soviet reality, the Russian artists group Chto Delat? depicts in «Perestroika Songspiel,» which we will present in June, a moment in 1989 when a coup planned against perestroika was foiled by the broad mobilization of the people, and when the possibility of a new, more just society was just appearing on the horizon. To conclude our spring program, we will show, concurrently with a major event put on by the Klagenfurt Unikum on the grounds of Lakeside, a new film by Robert Schabus, which illuminates the more down-to-earth aspects of work in a seemingly immaterial working world like that of the Technology Park.

Christian Kravagna, Hedwig Saxenhuber