«This Really Happened Here»

Exhibition and research project

«This Really Happened Here» is a largescale research and exhibition project on alternatives for political, social and cultural development in the Austrian state of Carinthia. Carinthia’s negative image as a politically reactionary, intellectually provincial and culturally conservative region is by no means wholly unjustified. And yet, a whole range of projects on various levels have been undertaken during the past 40 years that can only be considered exemplary in terms of initiating alternative forms of economic activity, cultural practice and social cohesion. The story of this «other Carinthia» has however failed to attain a prominent position in general historical awareness. Various initiatives that were once thought to hold great promise for the future seem to have been largely forgotten today, and in some cases were not only deliberately hindered, but even left out of the story altogether. We would like to believe, though, that knowledge of the concrete histories of progressive experiments in the recent past might provide some leads for working out new approaches today to exploring future prospects for the region.

            «This Really Happened Here» is a cooperative project by Kunstraum Lakeside and the Institute for Media and Communication Sciences at the University of Klagenfurt. As part of a seminar organized on the initiative of the Kunstraum in WS 2011/2012 and led by communication scientist Matthias Wieser and artist Hubert Lobnig, students did research in public and private archives on selected events in the alternative history of Carinthia, gathered material, and analyzed media reports on the events under study.

            Their work revolved around two case studies of economic, social and cultural selforganization in the late 1970s and a more recent example from 2006: the founding of the Longo maï cooperative near Eisenkappel in 1977, the legendary occupation of a house in Klagenfurt’s Reitschulgasse in 1979 with the goal of establishing an autonomous culture and communication center, and the installation of the «BombaClab» in two occupied military barracks on the Kreuzbergl in 2006, associated very similar demands to those made in 1979 on Reitschulgasse. These three very different incidents with their equally disparate courses of development (both successes and setbacks) formed the point of departure for research, interviews with those involved, and the gathering of materials illustrating connections with other concrete stories and their discussion in media and politics.

            The results of this research project will be presented and put up for discussion in Summer Semester 2012 in the form of an exhibition at Kunstraum Lakeside. Also figuring in this portrayal and rewriting of (regional) history are methodological questions within the conflicting fields of artistic, scientific and political approaches.

            This project represents our continuing engagement with an agenda launched in recent years through, for example, the discussion «Raum schaffen» («Making Space» – on critical Carinthian art and culture initiatives) and the film project «Representing Saualm» (on the political and media discourse surrounding the asylum system in Carinthia) as an earnest and critical confrontation with «burning» regional issues. Our interdisciplinary collaboration with the institutes at the University of Klagenfurt has proven extremely fruitful here.


Christian Kravagna, Hedwig Saxenhuber