Useful disruption and productive conflict have always been part of steirischer herbst—an institution that has sparked dialogue time and again throughout its history. Every autumn since its founding half a century ago, the festival has provided a platform for new productions, provoking and shaping public debates in a variety of forms across disciplines and media. Reinventing itself many times over, steirischer herbst has always redefined the terms of the conversation about what culture might mean in a changing contemporaneity.

steirischer herbst was founded in 1968, in opposition to the resurgence of nationalist cultural initiatives gaining traction at the time. This founding moment drew upon a tradition of international modernism in music, theater, and visual art and the belief that it could (still) provide a bulwark against the deep-seated remnants of the totalitarian mentality in the world. steirischer herbst would appear on the scene with the unexpected force of an earthquake, cu...
Useful disruption and productive conflict have always been part of steirischer herbst—an institution that has sparked dialogue time and again throughout its history. Every autumn since its founding half a century ago, the festival has provided a platform for new productions, provoking and shaping public debates in a variety of forms across disciplines and media. Reinventing itself many times over, steirischer herbst has always redefined the terms of the conversation about what culture might mean in a changing contemporaneity.

steirischer herbst was founded in 1968, in opposition to the resurgence of nationalist cultural initiatives gaining traction at the time. This founding moment drew upon a tradition of international modernism in music, theater, and visual art and the belief that it could (still) provide a bulwark against the deep-seated remnants of the totalitarian mentality in the world. steirischer herbst would appear on the scene with the unexpected force of an earthquake, cutting across the wholesome idea of a cultural “autumn harvest” in a region very proud of its wine and fruit. It would enchant, confound, and shock audiences out of their complacency, in the seemingly placid former retirement-capital of the Hapsburg monarchy.

Indeed, part of what has made steirischer herbst unique over the course of its history is its engagement with Styria and the city of Graz. The festival emerged through the initiative of the local scenes and continues to play an important role establishing networks to this day. Activating many if not most of the city’s cultural spaces, the festival rendered the city and the region legible as a text, with new chapters appearing every year.

From its very beginnings, steirischer herbst stood out as one of the world’s few interdisciplinary art festivals. Fostering dialogue between the arts by combining aesthetic positions with theoretical reflection. This point remains central to the festival’s approach today, as it emphasizes work that refuses to be bound by the rules and traditional scope of separate cultural fields. steirischer herbst pursues a critical agenda and supports practices that are engaged and engaging. That does not mean that the festival is simply a platform for alternative politics. Instead, it aims each year anew to turn the city into a stage upon which art’s unique imaginative potential is on full view.
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Ekaterina Degot
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Ekaterina Degot CEO art historian, researcher, curator focusing on aesthetic & sociopolitical issues. Since 2018 Director & Chief Curator of steirischer herbst