Summer Semester 2010 is the tenth semester for Kunstraum Lakeside. We would like to focus in this tenth program on questioning the habits, expectations and (tacit) dictates that can be bound up in both the concrete space of cultural production and in certain political discourses.
Which patterns of order in our thoughts, ways of speaking and ways of acting push through what has already been said and done to—gently or obstinately— affect our current pronouncements? How can we reorder things by, for example, assessing pet words like «critical» for their limiting side effects?
One of the most extreme examples in Austria of a political and media discourse that has taken on a life of its own is the theme of asylum. Whenever events such as an earthquake or the Olympics are not available to provide a temporary distraction, the A-word tends to dominate newspaper front pages and telemedia politics. Contrasting starkly with the pivotal importance with which this «problem» is endowed in an ongoing pattern of stimulus and response is the actual steady decline in the number of asylum seekers in recent years, and the even smaller number of those whose application is accepted.
Two program features at the beginning of the semester are dedicated to this type of
incongruity between the reality on the ground and the importance politics and the media attach to it in the general order of things. Taking the case of refugees deported to a remote mountain pasture called Saualm as example—an incident that achieved notoriety beyond Carinthia’s borders—the film «Representing Saualm» produced on the initiative of Kunstraum Lakeside as an artistic and scholarly cooperation by Zeigam Azizov and Robert Schabus with students at the University of Klagenfurt, examines mechanisms by which media realities are produced and their political significance. A panel discussion following the film will address the potential a project like this can harbor for reordering entrenched stereotypes and ideas.
Drawing on her previous work on immigration and racism, which referenced for the most part her homeland in Bosnia- Macedonia and the United Kingdom as her current place of residence, Nada Prlja has created an exhibition for Klagenfurt that responds to the regional idiosyncrasies of the asylum system in the state of Carinthia and in Austria as a whole. Prlja’s exhibition uses what are in some cases provocative methods to ask whether it is possible to break through the cycle of continually recurring descriptions, arguments and prejudices. For this investigation, it is necessary to work out certain «archetypes» of fear and defensiveness against «strangers» and to examine conditioned ways of speaking that reinforce certain stereotypes, both on the part of the «natives» as well as—and this is characteristic of Prlja’s approach—on the part of the immigrants. While critical accounts of immigration and racism often focus exclusively on the conscience, tolerance or legal philosophy of those in the majority society, Prlja also addresses to the same degree the self-image of immigrants and their potential to productively change the way they talk about the social sphere, instead of simply dividing it between «us» and «them». At the opening of Prlja’s exhibit, art critic and curator TJ Demos will speak on strategies for the artistic treatment of migration and globalization issues, themes that have taken on great significance in the art field of late.
The second part of the program focuses on dimensions that are seemingly abstracter and more neutral: the naming of things and the occupation of space. Catrin Bolt looks at the Kunstraum itself as a place and a context specifying correct and incorrect actions, suitable and unsuitable aesthetic procedures. Bolt’s artistic interest is generally in the functional definitions of natural and social spaces, in the way objects and conventionalized practices convey or dictate the logic of what to do and what not to do. Particularly in art exhibition spaces, however, flouting the prevailing order, going against the grain, has itself congealed into a convention. To what extent, then, can the «critical», «conceptual», «intellectual» order of the Kunstraum be undermined by incorrect usage, or be subjected to a reordering without this maneuver being read merely as a «critical» gesture? All we know right now is that we don’t know what we’ll be seeing here in May. But it’s a sure thing that the artist has invited the economic and social historian Andreas Exenberger to hold a lecture debating the power of naming places and spaces in connection with colonialist and capitalist policies.

Christian Kravagna, Hedwig Saxenhuber