donaufestival – New Society 26th of April to 5th of May in Krems (AT)

When it is spring time in Vienna people who are into performance and edgy music take a trip to Krems an hour away from Vienna to attend the annual donaufestival. The festival frames its linup by a theme which is this year “new society”. This seems a bit overexcited at first glance, or is it an ironic take?

The artistic director Thomas Edlinger explains: “Do vegans and fraternity boys, super rich and refugees even live in the same society? A nexus of the generally binding – core culture and mainstream society aside – is not easy to find anymore”. The faults of society stand in marked contrast to the promises of equality, which have fallen by the wayside in favour of the liberalisation of capital, consumerism, and morals. The media says it everyday: Here, the high flyers – there, the sinking ships. Here, those from here – there, those from somewhere else. Here, toxic masculinity – there, the non-binary avant-garde.”

He believes that “resistance is forming against this disintegration, building upon community instead of society.” And draws upon the conflicts between leftist who promote an educative turn through establishing safe zones while populists advertise that they can just stay how they are, fighting feminist or postcolonialist attitudes.

“Both progressive and reactionary we-formations and exclusions take place in a networked world with no outside”, and connects this to our mediated data world and that “the absolutism of data has its own plans”. And what makes the contemporary a new society is that we are increasingly communicating with machines.

“How this all ends? Perhaps a ‘we’ of tomorrow will be more about collective activities than collective identities.”

The conclusion seems somewhat modest. Does he talk about the presented art works and that they adress or perform those “collective activities”? Because attending the festival can be of course a collective activity but within a very limited part of society.

The day tickets are 35€ which is a lot of money (for some 35% of the Austrians who have no savings and running short on money to cover their daily costs as was just recently reported in the news) also adding the costs to come, stay and go there – as the smallest group of attendees are coming from Krems. Also the taste, mix of music and performance, is more burgeois societies taste, than mainstream. Though some of the presented music is sipping more and more from niche into mainstream culture.

But nonetheless for a small community of music and performance nerds it’s definatly worth the money and effort to come to Krems and discuss the latest ideas and projects that have been curated along this line of “new society”. And I guess I must be one of them.

Musicians include: Holly Herndon, Giant Swan, Gudrun Gut, Katharina Ernst, Arabrot, Khalab, AAA or PlanningtoRock on the first weekend. The second weekend presents works by Lucrecia Dalt, Ark Noir, Godflesh, Eartheater, Fatima Al Qadiri, Kate Tempest and Apparat.

The performance programme offers Stefan Kaegi & Rimini Protokoll, Ligia Lewis or Karin Pauer & Aldo Giannotti. The programme is completed by artworks/ installations and a small theory & film section.



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