Always right in the middle – A new perspective on Austria’s culture

Frankfurt, 14.10.2015
At the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) unveiled its new cultural initiative, which from spring 2016 will be opening up fresh perspectives on Austria as a land of culture.

They squeeze, contort and pile themselves one on top of another. On stairs, on park benches and in doorways, these temporary body sculptures designed by Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner offer up unusual and unexpected viewpoints. In a parkour traverse of the entire site of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the eight performers gave visitors to the trade fair an early taster of what will be in store for them from early next year should they visit and experience the Austrian cultural landscape: unexpectedly, you can find yourself right in the middle of things.

“We asked ourselves the question: what drives travellers with an interest in culture to set off in a particular direction? They want to explore places that inspire them and that give them a fresh view of things. And at the same time, they still want to be always at the heart of the action. To be always in the middle of things. And that is exactly what Willi Dorner is doing too, with his temporary body sculptures,” explains ANTO managing director Petra Stolba, outlining the approach to this new cultural initiative.

The undiscovered and the in-between in Austria’s cultural locations

Willi Dorner’s humorous-philosophical performances “bodies in urban spaces” have brought him international recognition, cutting right across many genre areas, from dance to architecture. And at the centre of the action is precisely that thing which every visitor with an interest in culture comes into contact with first of all whenever he travels anywhere: the place itself. The urban space as performance space in Austria also needs to be considered in the context of art history, recalling for instance the urban performances of the Vienna Avant-Garde of the 1960s and 1970s.

The mobile city/human installations explore what lies undiscovered and in-between in Austria’s cultural locations. “Every year, countless visitors travel to Austria to be amazed by the Imperial cultural heritage at first hand. But there is so much more to experience than just discovering the things that are already known. “Always right in the middle” gives fresh impulses to the widespread and deep-rooted clichés – and through it, fresh perspectives and viewpoints of Austria open up for the visitor,” says Stolba. The temporary body sculptures in the public space – on top of, underneath or in the middle of historical walls and buildings – are intended to provide moments of surprise for spectators. This pulsating newness seeks out its space boldly and colourfully, causing never-seen compositions to come to life in the spaces in the classic impressions of Austria. For the viewer, these performances are therefore emotional and inviting challenges to discover new things in Austria’s cultural offer.

Without yesterday, we would not have this today

With this new cultural initiative, ANTO is underlining the dynamic cultural development of the country. “In Austria, you can experience new ways to access culture – whether that is dance, design or architecture – in a unique naturalness that sits comfortably alongside the established culture of the Imperial age. Without that yesterday, we would not have this today: it is a statement that is particularly true of Austria, and it offers a comprehensible connection between the diversity and challenge of the Austrian cultural landscape in the tension between the traditional and the modern,” says Stolba.

The Frankfurt Book Fair was deliberately chosen by ANTO as the launch event to promote the initiative. Taking up an invitation from the foreign trade organisation of the Austrian Economic Chambers and of the Austrian Publishers and Booksellers Association (Hauptverband des Österreichischen Buchhandels), the first images and videos from the cultural initiative were unveiled to the public on the Austria stand. “Part of what we are looking to get across by doing that is that we can be successful in our international marketing particularly where culture and tourism actively engage through close collaboration on the international stage. Alongside the Austrian cultural scene, we can make our own contribution where the interests of Austria as a country of culture intersect with its interests as a holiday destination. We aim to do so respectfully and with appreciation – and, at the same time, with a welcoming and typically Austrian wink of the eye,” adds Stolba.

Serious yet playful, reflective and yet extrovert, and transferrable to any cultural destination – that was the challenge for the innovative campaign concept developed by BSX Schmölzer GmbH and the Gruppe am Park communications agency, building on Willi Dorner’s idea. Over the past months, a team of performers comprising dancers and parkour runners have travelled the length and breadth of Austria, shooting photos and videos to gather together a wealth of material. From spring 2016, this content is gradually being made available online.

Always right in the middle from spring 2016 at



Yvonne Tremmel on 14.10.2015   |   No comments   |  print

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