Armin Medosch on Fri, 18 Feb 2000 02:13:41 +0000

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Syndicate: (Fwd) re_act austria

dear syndicalists
it must be getting a bit boring already for you to read all those 
postings of austrian artists who object firmly to robert flecks 
proposal to culturally boycott austria. well, here i send another one 
(and in a couple of minutes one more).
some days ago somebody wrote in the New York Times in an (not so well 
informed) article that there are basically two groups of artists in 
austria now. a smaller and more bitter one, which is for boycott, and 
a bigger and angrier one, which votes to stay and fight and wants as 
much international exchange as possible. Well, enough, the rest of 
the article was not good. Here a statement from Sabine Bitter and 
Helmut Weber, which has been on nettime, but so far not on syndicate. 
It also offers a website where people can put in their names to 
support that opinion
best regards

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date sent:      	Fri, 11 Feb 2000 18:11:14 +0100
From:   (Sabine Bitter, Helmut Weber)
Subject:        	re_act austria

dear friends, colleagues,
below you find a statement concerning a letter by robert fleck, which got
lots of attention the last week.
Even tho there has been said a lot, (also in the meantime mr. fleck
_adjusted_ his statement) we want to point out some further arguments.
check out the links below for the wide range of activism going on in austria!

As Austrian artists and cultural workers we strictly reject the current
Austrian government. This government stands for an escalation of the
politics of simplification, populistic agitation, growth of media
monopolies and racist xenophobia which have increasingly governed everyday
political life during the last year - unfortunately not soley in Austria
(in this sense Austria is both symptomatic and particular).

Since the OEVP enabled the FPOE to participate in the government --a party
which has to be attributed neofascist tendencies --  for the first time we
find ourselves confronted with a situation in which the government has to
secure their position in front of the population by massive police
protection: a population which makes their resistance public against this
government by demonstrations and other various forms of social protest.

In this context we are compelled to strongly reject the cynisism of Robert
Fleck's current statement in which he attempts to conflate national
socialism and the situation in Austria today --  an irresponsible and
inconsiderate reaction in front of historical facts which minimizes the
historical actualities of the period of national socialism and distorts the
form of neo-racism and nationalism of the current situation. Robert Fleck
draws a completely distorted image of the situation of artists, using the
same kind of populistic language that we should now be particularly wary of
and fight actively.

Apart from that, who empowered Mr. Fleck to be the speaker in the name of
all Austrian artists? How can he consider himself as "one of the last
internationally active Austrian  art critics"?

The call to boycott Austrian artists and institutions is irresponsible,
contraproductive and is equal to an incapacitation and generalization of
actually active artists. The galleries, theatres and museums of Austria
should now become a site for intensified social protest (from artists from
every country)  and not abandoned as contaminated sites. To abandon these
cultural sites plays into the FPOE's isolationist and anti-cultural
particularly at this moment, a renewed role for art as a materialization of
social protest is called for, not a more passive boycotting.

His arguments speak more of his insolence or arrogance and exaggerated
self-esteem, leaving the international art community (being always eager
for scandals) with panicked questions (going as far as: May I still be in
touch with you or should I make an "official statement" by boycotting our
personal contact?). And, even worse, his distorting statements tempt us to
draw  the conclusion that he might play consciously/unconsciously into the
hands of the persons now in power. Analysis and  effective action against
the actually existing neo-racism within globalization and newly configured
retrograde nationalism within Austria are needed, not mere reaction drawing
predictable parallels which obscure actual social relations. Especially
concerning this aspect we are eager to hear some clarifying re-positioning
from Mr. Fleck.

Overall, we rely on the solidarity and participation of our colleagues to
secure the possibility for us (and them) to continue acting on an
international platform --and to use that platform to effectively express
our resistance.

Sabine Bitter, Barbara Holub, Ortrun Lanzner, Ruth Schnell, Guenther
Selichar, Andrea van der Straeten, Paul Rajakovics, Helmut Weber

more links:


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