Tools for Action – Wiener Festwochen

DIY | Participation
4 weeks
Workshops, Protest, Performance
Highschool students
Tools for Action (Artúr van Balen, Katherine Ball, Malcolm Kratz) was invited by the Wiener Festwochen as part of the Academy of Unlearning. The Academy of Unlearning states in the programm book: “Verlernen wird hier als aktive Zurückweisung einer Bildung und eines kulturellen Kanons verstanden, die sich als die Machtverhältnisse tradierende Logiken in unsere Körper und unser Verhalten eingeschrieben haben. Zu diesem Zweck lernt und lehrt die Akademie des Verlernens die Kunst, Regeln zu brechen und betreibt die Praxis des unsichtbaren Ausbesserns.” We took the task of “Unlearning” very seriously and taught inflatable disobedience and self-organisation at eight different school in Vienna. We talked about things we all take for granted that others fought for, for example woman’s right to vote. That sometimes rules or laws need to be broken, since morality is not always included. At the same time the students would learn how to build inflatable barricades.
“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” – Antonio Gramsci The end goal was to have a communally organized parade through Vienna where each group would split off and self-organise a small protest with big inflatable barricades. We asked the question “what are your personal monsters? What represents or supports this monster in bigger society?”. For this we created a secret Telegram Group where no parents or teachers where included. What happened next exceeded our expertations. On the 12th of May we (around fifteen 16 year old female students) did a funny action with the inflatable “Naziraupe Nimmersatt”. The Naziraupe Nimmersatt appeared on different places in the city, then appeared at the opening ceremony of the Wiener Festwochen, waded peacefully through the crowd and left at the side to go the office of the FPÖ at Rathausplatz 8. The goal was to hold a spontaneous gathering at the FPÖ, shining a light on the true nature of this far-right party. For this the students designed a flyer, printed it at their mums printshop and even borrowed a megaphone from the fire brigade. The Wiener Festwochen responded by cancelling our event and terminating our agreement, after realizing the project didn’t stay within the symbolic boundries of the arts. Disobedience does not stop at a cultural festival. At the same time, we see our intervention not as a critique of the Wiener Festwochen, but more as radical pedagogy, giving a taste for collective action. Borrowing the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” We hope the action will be inspiring to the students in ways we can not imagine yet. Foto credits: Daniella Hefter/ The Fox Is Mine