#eSeLSCHWARM feat. WaSCHbärhund: donaufestival

Fotos: eSeL.at - Zhameli Khairli Fotos: eSeL.at - Zhameli Khairli

Blessed with a press ticket and listening to Raja Kirik’s music I was moving toward my first experience of donaufestival. The program of the festival was versatile, presenting a mix of performances and exhibitions together with concerts and DJ line ups. The diversity of geography and practices of all invited artists was impressive.

I started my exploration with the exhibition Research Lab: WHAT IS LEFT TO STEAL by participants from the Master in Critical Studies programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and attended a public reading about still life in the Netherlands in the discourse of colonial and capitalist exploitation. After diving in a dark spot with flashing lights Dream Machine 3000 by Michael Fischer & Albert Mayr I moved to the Minoritenkirche and enjoyed concerts of Mabe Fratti and then Raja Kirik (yes exactly the duo I listened to on my way to the festival). I was especially looking forward to the performances Somewhere Me by Nomcebisi Moyikwa and Mai Ling kocht 3: We All Eat Dirt by Mai Ling. I’ll leave you intrigued and encouraged to discover them on your own. Dancing to the music by AMMAR 808 I felt satisfied with my first encounter with the donaufestival.

I think it’s important to mention some barriers one should consider when going to the donaufestival. One day pass costs € 38, which is quite similar to any regular concert ticket. Nevertheless it would be good to have a more comprehensive discount policy. A positive surprise was that guests could take their own drinks and food. Due to confusing information regarding the postponed shuttle bus, unfortunately my destiny was to go home wet after looking for the bus under the rainy sky.

Stealing the stolen

Even though my donaufestival experience on May 6th was overall positive, a public statement two days later shed a different light on it all.

On the last day of the festival an art intervention by Mai Ling took place, supported by Nomcebisi Moyikwa and the WILTS Press among other artists. Mai Ling addressed concerns of institutional care or rather instrumentalisation of artists of color at the donaufestival as a direct response to the reader that donaufestival released on occasion of this year's festival. The reader Stealing the Stolen was supposed to evolve the critical discourse on cultural appropriation and counter appropriation. Contrary to this stance, it features a text Paint it Black by Karl Bruckmaier. On the first page the author cynically positions himself as “more or less often a racist”, framed by racist and chauvinist vocabulary. The management of donaufestival responded with apologies to all artists and readers.

The inclusion of this text is not only an insult but also addresses the structural dimensions of racism, chauvinism and sexism in Austria. And even though this reader might be an easily overlooked part of donaufestival, as the WILTS Press writes: “It [the reader] will be kept in personal and institutional archives and will be read as an expression of what donaufestival krems 2022 was about.”

Text & photos: Zhameli Khairli “WaSCHbärhund”

More information could be found here:

(edited May 12th)

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