concerning scheibbs: life in an austrian town

'Concerning Scheibbs: Life in an Austrian Town', a temporary art project for a small town serves as the starting point for further considerations on structural changes that affect many European towns and cities right across cultural and regional situations. 'Life in an Austrian Town' can also be seen as an occasion to think about migration and identity, about concepts of life and about the role of art as a generator and initiator in the broader social context — extending as far as 'Life in a European Town'. Temporary art projects that go into or work with the town, the specific place and the population, initiate communication processes whose outcome is not foreseeable — to the extent that they are not set up as deliberate 'sensations'. The project was conceived as a small, fine intervention into structures that the invited artists did not know specifically, but which confronted them with aspects that they could nevertheless always relate to different experiences in different ways. If jetting around from one major art event, from one trendy metropolis to another has been considered a guarantee of success and a trademark in the art world in recent years, then 'Concerning Scheibbs' addresses the issue of the quiet sounds of unexcitedness in the countryside — a long way away from the major art discourse. And the project was nevertheless based on openness, which in the production at that particular time was not to fulfil predetermined expectations nor offer 'solutions' — production conditions, that is, that are intended to free the artists from the pressure of efficiency and relevance, which otherwise often predominate in art institutions and their related reception and power mechanisms, which one as an artist with all tricks and infiltration one can hardly avoid. Freed from this pressure of relevance, it is perhaps precisely then possible to create a change — both for the participating artists and for the residents — that goes beyond the specific situation.
As initiators of the project who do not live in Scheibbs, we can only imagine the smouldering or open disputes in the community on the basis of our imaginative potential. Social codes and family connections tend to be more dominant in a small town because they are more unavoidable.
The positive reception of the project in the town, which is in particular thanks to the tireless efforts of the local cultural association, was thus all the more pleasing. From the confrontation with these temporary projects, Scheibbs is thus now called on to develop a vision for a new kind of sustainability. Through the openness of the people of Scheibbs, the artists were able to pose questions that go far beyond Scheibbs. Scheibbs thereby becomes a case study — not just an Austrian town, but a town in a region beyond the immigration streams of major cities and thus reflecting a phenomenon that concerns the whole of Europe, regardless of specific cultural characteristics.

The shapeupscheibbsgroup dedicated a wealth of spontaneous public actions to Scheibbs, nourished by their research, which quickly exposed certain — also unpleasant — points and immediately included the inhabitants. As a highpoint during the final weekend, the artists flooded the stairs along the main square – a concerted performance that took place in cooperation with the fire brigade and alluded to the regular emergency action required in recent years owing to flooding.
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