steirischer herbst has re-invented itself many times in its history – an amorphous institution in progress that poses the question as to its conditions and necessities as a very individual platform for new art every year. As a festival, steirischer herbst is special in many respects: by dint of its many voices, its promotion of communication between the various disciplines of art, thanks to the link-up of aesthetic positions and theoretical discourse. Its clear-cut positioning as a festival of production and processes, of facilitation and initiation is also special – and increasingly necessary in the international politico-cultural situation.
The incorporation and networking of both international and regional artists, scenes and contexts is a central issue – steirischer herbst did, after all, emerge from an initiative of local scenes, on the one hand, and has taken productive advantage of its proximity to Slovenia, Croatia and the Central and Eastern European regions (long before the opening of most borders), on the other.
Paradoxically (and with some self-irony), steirischer herbst can be referred to as an avant-garde festival with tradition: For fifty years now, steirischer herbst has been one of the world’s few festivals of contemporary art that is by nature truly multidisciplinary. Long before everyone started talking about the necessity of networking the arts, the festival integrated art, music, performance, dance, theatre, literature, architecture, New Media and theory – over the years with various focal points but always self-confidently on the conditions of the respective genres. As a dialogue, that questions but never levels down the characteristic features of the aesthetics and practices.
steirischer herbst presents and supports current artistic working methods, characteristic styles and discourses. However, presenting productions is only the most visible part of the programme. Research, processes and developments are just as much part of this festival as spectacular performances, large-scale exhibitions, space-dominating concerts of New Music, architectural research, public debates and night after night of celebration.