Most things on this festival’s menu seem damn obscure and will have you questioning what this festival actually stands for. With the festival going through a radical rebirth this year, we decided to take a look for you. After a long hard look at the program, we’ve worked out that the new and avantgarde Wiener Festwochen is all about about opening your mind.
While we could give you many more, here are 8 reasons (including the must-see performances) you should definitely check out the new Wiener Festwochen in 2017.
1. The unexpected happenings going on in the new unknown venue, the Performeum
© Congo Na Chanel/dig-up Production
Buried in the depths of the netherlands of Vienna’s 10th district is the Wiener Festwochen’s so-called ‘temporary performance museum,’ the Performeum. The unexpected is happening here, with art installations and performances that will have your mind being blown wide open. Meanwhile, a smattering of wild parties will be hosted in this unique setting from Thursday to Saturday, every week, right up until the last curtain falls. For those that are constantly complaining that Vienna’s parties all look the same, those being offered up here will dance to a different beat, with DJs from as far as Ghana spinning house and exotic sounds, like those from Oriental Slow House duo Shkoon, offering a once off opportunity to party like you never have in Vienna.
What not to miss at the Performeum
The Opening Night Performeum
When: THU, May 18, 10pm
What: Be the first to check out this new venue that will have your senses drunk before you even touch a drink at the opening night party, featuring international DJs.
Vienna Party Weeks
When: every night from Thursday until Saturday night, during the festival (see the program, here)
What: Party and express yourself on the dancefloor amongst all of the art in the bizarre surroundings of the Performeum.
Conga Na Chanel
When: THU–SAT, June 15–17, 7:30pm
What: A performance and video installation that does its own thing to ‘take you on a trip into the heart of darkness – with a whiff of Chanel’. Elisabeth Bakambamba Tambwe’s production reveals the unsettling situation happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a unique and powerful way. The performance will be in English.
Find more details about the Performeum’s program, here.
2. Open your pores, your heart, and your mind in an inflatable Hamam
© Hamamness / Anja Beutler
You’ll become part of this bold art installation as you’re body is washed, rubbed and pampered by a traditional Hamam treatment, while performers and guest speakers massage your mind. Yes, you read right – in three inflatable Hamams setup in a big room, professional Hamam bathing staff and physiotherapists will work away at your body, while the performances and various talks work away at your mind. A unique experience for both the body and mind. Find more details, about this one-of-a-kind art installation, Hamamness, here.
3. Give in and let go to a hairdresser under the age of 12
© Haircuts by Children / John Lauener
The thought of letting a young child go crazy with a sharp object near your head may make your palms get a little sweaty. And this is exactly the power of the message being made with this interactive performance, Haircuts by Children. This is a rare opportunity to let go of your ego and allow a child style your new haircut. The Canadian collective, Mammalian Diving Reflex, look to break through barriers that confront us in our daily lives. When you sit in the chair and see that 6 year old coming at your hair with a pair of scissors, expect exactly that to happen. Find more details about Haircuts by Children, here.
4. It will challenge every idea you have on migrants, migration, nationalism, Europe and our not-so-brave new world
© New Creation / Karla Kalife
One of the main themes running throughout the festival is the ever so relevant theme of migration and what it means to live in our fast changing globalised world. Very relevant themes will be tackled through art during the festival. Scan the program to have your rigid perceptions broken.
While on this theme, we highly recommend you catch the energetic dance performance by Brazilian choreographer Bruno Beltrão, New Creation (find more details, here) , which makes a plea for undisturbed freedom of travel and a world without borders. Or you can catch the confronting performance, Traiskirchen. The musical (find more details, here). We’ll let you guess what this one is about.
5. The amazing performances that take the old and make them new
© Les Robots / Knut Klassen
In typical Wiener Festwochen style, the festival will see a raft of the classical music this city so dearly loves recreated by daring performers. Take the musical performance, Les Robots ne connaissent pas le Blues or The Abduction from the Seraglio, for example, in which Mozart’s operas are scattered with pop culture pearls. This piece claims it is a musical journey, in which elements from different worlds/ cultures are put together to create a new form that will please even the most die-hard of opera fans, and even intrigue those that would rather sit on a rather hard wooden chair staring at a blank wall painted in sick green rather than go to the opera. Find more info. about the performance, here.
6. The urban art to be found in public spaces, like the British artist and musician, Jimmy Cauty’s dystopian diorama
© The Aftermath Dislocation Principle / Jimmy Cauty
The Wiener Festwochen is bringing art to the streets of Vienna. Around the city, you’ll see art installations popping up, like the Aftermath Dislocation Principle – a big deal exhibition by controversial English artist Jimmy Cauty that is currently touring the world.
Infamous for setting a million pounds on fire in the band KLF, Cauty is now smashing miniature windows in model villages. And the Wiener Festwochen has managed to secure Cauty’s exhibit, The Aftermath Dislocation Principle (ADP), which is a miniature model of a town reeling from a mysterious event. You’ll feel like a giant when peeking into the shipping containers in which the tiny towns hide around the city. Apparently it’s better to view this exhibit (set in 3 different urban locations around the city) after sunset, as the lighting affects the visibility. You can make it your own little night tour. You can find more details about the exhibition, here.
Actually, after spending a bit of time with the program, you could make a tour of all the different art installations that will be set up around the city during the Wiener Festwochen 2017.
7. Open your mind with the diversity of arts and performances on offer
© All the Sex I’ve Ever Had / Lucia Eggenhoffer
The Wiener Festwochen has to be one of the most diverse festivals in the world in terms of what it offers, and in 2017, this claim rings even more true. The program is full of avant-garde performances that will have your mind flipping about like a fish out of water. From artistic activism, interactive performances that challenge, dance performances with bold statements to a ‘Anti-Fascist Ballet school’ and a moving and humorous talk event in which a bunch of sexually active old people get on stage and talk about their love and sex life (All the sex I’ve ever Had. Find details, here.) – the Wiener Festwochen can only be defined in one way – it’s a festival that will open your mind.
8. All the free stuff!
© Tools for Action / Oriana Elicao
It’s safe to say that a festival is for one and all when it features prominently in its program a section called, ‘Free Entry.’ Plenty of the experiences to be had at the Wiener Festwochen are as free as an epiphany. One of the free events we recommend you see is the discourse to be held by Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian psychoanalytic philosopher, called “The courage of hopelessness,’ which will dare to promote realism in a world in which optimism and complacency is common. To check out what else you can check out for free, see the program here.