herbst Academy 2014

As part of the herbst Academy 2014, steirischer herbst is once again running four new workshops – this year, by and with the Canadian-Austrian research collective Urban Subjects, the American theatre company Nature Theater of Oklahoma, who caused quite a stir in the theatre world with their large-scale project “Life and Times”, the American artist Francis Cape, and Alexander Tuchacek, cofounder of the Knowbotic Research media group.

Artists, theorists and students are invited to investigate the phenomenon of sharing as the imperative of our age and to reflect on the artworks on show at the herbst festival. In the case of the Nature Theater of Oklahoma workshop, they can even become part of an artistic project themselves. The four workshops will revolve around this year’s herbst conference “Academy of Asociality” (Sat 11/10 & Sun 12/10).

The contribution towards expenses for each workshop is € 130. Accommodation and lunch is provided for each workshop day. When organising accomodation yourself, price reduction is possible. Travel costs are extra. Each workshop is limited to 15 participants, which are chosen by the workshop hosts. The spoken language is English. (Find detailed information in the application form)

Deadline for registration: Wed 31/07/2014
Application form

For information contact:

steirischer herbst / Barbara Thaler
p +43 664 24 500 81
f +43 316 823 007 77


Workshop 1
Urban Subjects (AT/CA)
Researching the Militant Image
Thu 09/10 & Fri 10/10
English language

By Urban Subjects (AT/CA) (Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, Helmut Weber)
Guests: Marina Gržinić (SI), Jaleh Mansoor (CA), Stefan Römer (DE), Sandra Schäfer (DE)

How can we conceive the role of images as a moment of participation in forms of militancy today? Mass media and art are filled with images of protest and revolt. But an image of militancy is not necessarily a militant image. Just as militancy itself constitutes a social relationship that must be shared continually in order to be unleashed, so must militant images also emotionally short-circuit representation and politics, community and action. The Canadian-Austrian research collective Urban Subjects is co-curator of the Camera Austria exhibition “The Militant Image”. The workshop discusses artistic contributions, texts, films and also their discursive foundations. The debate involving further guests will address the ramified tracks of militant research, postcolonial film production and current debates about poor images and migrant images.

Urban Subjects
is a cultural research collective formed in 2004 by Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, and Helmut Weber, and based in Vancouver, Canada and Vienna, Austria. Together they devise research-driven artistic projects that are visual and textual– exhibitions, publications, curatorial work and presentations.

Workshop 2
Nature Theater of Oklahoma (US)
Life and Times, Episodes 9 &10. Come and Dance!
Wed 08/10, Thu 09/10 & Fri 10/10
English language

By Nature Theater of Oklahoma (US)

Nature Theater of Oklahoma have been working on their large-scale “Life and Times” project for seven years now. Taking recorded telephone conversations as a starting-point, the life of Kristin Worrall, herself a member of the New York group, was staged in such diverse styles as musical, thriller and organ concert. In the original wording, including every “um” and “ah”. Following the presentation of “Life and Times - Episodes 4.5 - 5 - 6” at this year’s steirischer herbst, the final episodes of the so far fourteen-hour long project will now be created- shot as a music video in Graz. It’s about love, odd jobs and whatever else goes on at the age of thirty. “Come and Dance!” is a workshop in the truest sense of the word: it will be work and production – life time, sweat and thoughts shared in the course of creative practice. The participants will become dancing, singing or speaking players in the film epilogue of “Life and Times”, to be shown in Graz in 2015.

Nature Theater of Oklahoma
is a New York based performance group under the direction of Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper. Since their first projects created as an ensemble, Nature Theater of Oklahoma has been devoted to making the work they don’t know how to make, putting themselves in impossible situations, and working out of their own ignorance and unease. They strive to create an unsettling live situation that demands total presence from everyone in the room. They use the readymade material around us, found space, overheard speech, and observed gesture. Through extreme formal manipulation, and superhuman effort, they affect a shift in the perception of everyday reality in their work, that extends beyond the performance site and into the world in which we live.

Workshop 3
Francis Cape (US)
Utopian Communities. Refusal, Participation and Anarchistic Practice
Mon 13/10 & Tue 14/10
English language

By Francis Cape (US)

The world is presented to us as though individualism and materialism were the only possible orientation systems and representative democracy the only possible way of organising a state politically. And yet there are communities that refuse to participate in these systems and choose instead to practise comprehensive forms of sharing and participation in self-determined collectives. In his “Utopian Benches” project presented at the steirischer herbst exhibition “Forms of Distancing”, Francis Cape has closely examined these kinds of communities and their history in Europe and America. Taking a look at religious movements of the 18th century, the anthropologist and activist David Graeber, Zapotec villages, as well as voluntary fire brigades, this workshop investigates those collectives which define themselves as communities of goods and how we can realise anarchistic and communist practices within daily life.

Francis Cape graduated at Goldsmiths College, London and moved to New York City in 1993. Following a decade or so of architectural interventions that addressed the inseparability of art from its context, he turned to work that confronts issues outside the studio/gallery circuit. One body of work explored the connection between what we saw of our society after Katrina hit New Orleans and what he sees in his own community in upstate New York. More recently "Utopian Benches" dwelt on the tradition of American communalism, and on values other than those promoted in the mainstream.

Workshop 4
Alexander Tuchaček (AT/CH)
Participation, Sharing, Being Shared: Codes and Scripts of the Ambivalent
Mon 13/10 & Tue 14/10
English language

By Alexander Tuchaček (AT/CH)

Promises of self-empowerment and participation are integral to digital media. It is not only since Edward Snowden’s disclosures that sharing has presented itself as something ambivalent: social networks have created the potential for democratic public opinion and at the same time greater surveillance. This space between sharing and being shared, in which the private is only generated through the public, is the focus of the workshop. Alexander Tuchaček, co-founder of media group Knowbotic Research, proposes a media communication structure in which decentralised forms of participation and withdrawal are tried out. In terms of discourse and performance, it is all or nothing: who shares with whom? Who decides the rules about how, when and what is shared? Are there scripts for the uncoded? Can sharing lead to involvement or participation? Who writes the guidelines?

Alexander Tuchacek works with sound, natural language, voices, computer codes and text. He often produces spaces of possibilities (alternative spaces?), indefinit setups of human interaction, distinguished by an overdrawn reference system. The artist is co-founder of media group Knowbotic Research, lives in Zurich and has a professorship at the University of the Arts Zurich.