Helmut Qualtinger was in his day still in a position to sing about the famous tautology of mobility fetishism: “I don’t know where I’m going, but that only means I’ll get there faster.” Today, mobility is more than ever the buzzword of our times, but this concept can take on many different colors depending on the context, ranging from survival strategy for the individual in a deregulated working world to the profit-oriented relocation of major corporations. Job openings here, unemployment there: the economy requires a mobile workforce, and politics promotes this through mobility bonuses. Not enough workers on the one hand, but restrictions for “foreigners” on the other: The economy demands the opening up of labor markets, but politics is divided when the mobility of some comes into conflict with the mobility of others. “Our” companies are busy buying up Southeast Europe, but we prefer an “Austrian solution” when it comes to selling something here. Who or what goes where and under what conditions, and which agents steer these movements?

It is no longer a general mobility fetishism that is satirized today; the focus now is on the interplay between, or the reconciliation of, mobility and control. Mobility management means distinguishing desirable from undesirable movement based on the divergent interests of those involved, while linking and weighing its economic, political and ecological effects: from the smallest unit en route on the motorway all the way to European economic and migration policies.

Our autumn program intends to illuminate certain aspects of the relationship between mobility and control artistically and theoretically—realizing full well that it is impossible to exhaust this complex theme—and in the process to articulate at least a few significant contradictions that result from the divergent interests of politics, the economy, science and individual living conditions. We can find a concrete point of departure for this investigation right here at Lakeside Park, where the companies and research institutions are undertaking diverse research and development programs involving the technological management of mobility (traffic) as well as the technological control of the movement of individuals (biometric chips for passports).

The two exhibitions during the winter semester therefore make direct reference to the situation here at the park by looking at the relationship between individual and structure, i.e. between those who control and those who are controlled. Ricardo Basbaum, a Brazilian participant in this year’s documenta, complicates access to the Kunstraum by means of a kind of gateway and then confronts visitors, once inside, with recordings taken by inconspicuous surveillance cameras. These are compiled in a sequencer to form a cycle of wandering perspectives. The artist calls this “System Cinema”: real-time surveillance television that enhances the perception of the room while at the same time recording images that lend the setting a series of additional points of reference—this time of the technological variety—to aid the viewers’ understanding of their surroundings. With his work’s title, “The Society of the Spectacle,” taken from the famous book by Guy Debord, Basbaum alludes to present-day social conditions. The visitor is not merely a passive observer in Basbaum’s project. The abbreviation “(& NBP)” stands for a project he started in 1994 called “New Basis for Personality” (Novas Bases para a Personalidade), and for a demonstration of potential new forms of social relations.

“Would you like to participate in an artistic experience?” is another one of Basbaum’s long-term projects. A steel object, a rectangle with cut-off corners and a round hole in the middle, circulates through various settings and inspires people to come up with the strangest uses, which are then documented, archived and published on the Internet. This form is the immediately recognizable and memorable logo for the permutation process that Ricardo Basbaum has been propagating for over a decade.

While Basbaum metaphorically highlights the thresholds, boundaries and limits of social and/or geographic mobility, the second show, by Iris Andraschek and Hubert Lobnig, starts out with an apparent affirmation of the technologically understood mobility principle, only to then dismantle its ideological components piece by piece. Andraschek and Lobnig work with a mobile robot that is being developed at Lakeside Park by a research institute of the University of Klagenfurt, using, or misusing, it in order to point up contradictions between variously understood concepts of communication and exchange. They make reference here to previous artistic interventions on the university campus that sparked off heated debates a decade ago, in this way putting technological research’s fixation on the present and the future to the historical test.

Two film evenings with Lisl Ponger and Klub Zwei show us aspects of touristic and politically forced migration. Mobility and its respective forms of “management” are put up for discussion from the standpoint of individuals with sharply divergent motivations and degrees of voluntariness. Lisl Ponger, one of Austria’s most prominent avant-garde filmmakers, confronts the experiences of exiles, tourists and migrants in her found-footage-based films, demonstrating the sometimes amazing similarities as well as striking differences between these groups in terms of mobility. The widely acclaimed film “Things. Places. Years.” by a group of female artists who call themselves Klub Zwei represents an important contribution to writing the history of the forced displacement perpetrated by the Nazis. The film traces the experiences of Jewish women who emigrated to London over the generations and in the process calls into question generalizations such as “Jewish,” “female,” or “exiled.”

At the beginning of December, we will present the premiere of “Der Park,” a film by Peter Spillmann, Marion von Osten and Katja Reichard, produced by Kunstraum Lakeside. In a distanced, analytical manner, the film explores the connections between working conditions, image production and in particular the significant and problematic relationships between the economy, cultural added value and individual lives that a project like Lakeside, which transcends the mere economy, entails. Based on extensive research and discussions at the park, the film shows us a world shaped by carefully distributed (hierarchic) roles and characterized by a subtle balance between the investments and profits made by individual actors.

Toward the end of the semester, Helmut Draxler will remind us in his lecture “On the Psychopolitics of the Private Sphere” that in the course of our discourse on surveillance and control we are perhaps falsely viewing the private sphere as something isolated, when in fact it is from that basis that we establish the conditions that lay the groundwork for social and political mechanisms.

Christian Kravagna, Hedwig Saxenhuber