|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
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 rhetoric;
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.
||>> original text by Robert Fleck
Demo Vienna 12.2.00