In post-war Austria, the country’s occupation by the four Allies and the pervasive presence of a fascist mentality formed the background for the emergence of Vienna’s avant-gardes after 1945. Despite the productive and innovative energies of these actors, who disregarded boundaries between disciplines as a matter of principle and always seemed to be spoiling for a fight, these Viennese avant-gardes have still not been accorded the place in the international art and cultural studies discourse that is due to them on the basis of their significance and impact.
A multidisciplinary group of researchers decided in June 2005 to try and remedy this situation by applying themselves to an integrative stock-taking, analysis and presentation of the movements of the Viennese post-war avant-gardes and their Austrian and international networks. In late 2006 the group constituted itself formally in terms of the law of associations as viennAvant.
Cross-discipline discussions made it clear in the course of 2008 that the field of research had to be viewed in the context of post-war developments in Austria as a whole and in all of Europe. viennAvant has broadened its agenda accordingly.
viennAvant’s team includes outstanding experts in the fields of literary studies, drama studies, history, urban studies, sociology, political science, art history, architecture, musicology, free jazz, media theory, film studies and data and project management.
This has turned viennAvant into an extraordinary pool of competence. By coordinating and bundling a large number of contacts to university and extramural research institutions both in Austria and in other European countries, to artists, archives, museums, galleries, concert promoters, national and international festivals and to diverse other institutions viennAvant has become a leading lobbyist for the adequate exploration of this epoch.
→ Structural networking in the field of research on avant-gardes
→ Taking stock and securing of sources through interviews
→ Anchoring the concept “Viennese avant-gardes after 1945“ in the international discourse on art through conferences and research projects
→ Presentation of the results in a major exhibition
→ Contextualisation of relevant individual projects
→ Documentation in a data bank
In accordance with the complexity of its theme viennAvant has split the undertaking into several modules:
The team members organise events in collaboration with university and extramural research institutions to discuss various theme-related aspects and issues with members of the interested public.
The symposium “Test Track Art. Post-1945 Viennese Avant-gardes” took place between 21 – 23 October 2009 at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, featuring discussions on theoretical foundations, a viable definition of the Viennese avant-gardes in that epoch and the methodological approaches of comparable projects.
2011 a substantial documentation of the symposium “ “Test Track Art. Post-1945 Viennese Avant-gardes”” has been published in Sonderzahlverlag.
2015 the publication “Schmäh als ästhetische Strategie der Wiener Avantgarden” is published as documentation of a panel which a Group of ViennAvant had presented at EAM 2014-conference in Helsinki
The questions raised at the Symposium are to be developed into multidisciplinary research projects. A series of publications is one of the options under consideration at present.
A crucial desideratum is a series of interviews with a wide range of different personalities – artists, actors from the fields of cultural politics, event and PR management, and with contemporary witnesses – for the documentation of Oral History and the safeguarding of material and evidence at present stored in private archives.
An exhibition will make it possible to assemble objects in one place that are connected in terms of their period and their content and to vividly recall the avant-gardes. The exhibition catalogue will serve to document research results and make them accessible to a wider public.
The modules “Symposia”, “Research projects” and “Exhibition“ will serve as the basis for a data bank on Viennese Avant-gardes 1945 – 1975. It will not only store findings and keep them permanently accessible but is also designed to make documents available in digitized form. The data bank will enable researchers and students through its comprehensive references in terms of materials, sources and texts to gain unlimited access to this hitherto neglected period. In view of the dwindling resources opened up by the state, this pilot project of information management deserves particular interest.
viennAvant does not want to confine itself to tangible products in the public sphere. By energizing the interdisciplinary debate within the cultural sciences and the humanities viennAvant hopes to bring about a push for modernisation in, and enhanced significance of, these fields.
ViennAvant is supported by the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna