What is the role of the “popular” in a time of rising right-wing populism? How to resist or subvert these increasingly aggressive framings of "the people"? How to engage with all these tangled histories and uncertain futures? Such are the questions at the heart of the 51st edition of steirischer herbst, a major interdisciplinary festival of contemporary art in Europe, held every autumn in Graz and in Styria, Austria. The title of the accompanying reader, Volksfronten | Popular Fronts, refers to the historical front populaire —the broad coalition of communists and liberals that unsuccessfully tried to challenge fascism in the 1930s. Nine essays as well as artists’ texts and full color images examine the relevance of that historical context and illuminate the role of critical thinking and artistic practice.
Every year for a month, steirischer herbst turns the city of Graz and Styria into a parcours of installative and performative works. Since 1968, it has provided a platform for public debates, critical positions, and dialogue between the arts.