Trailer & Foreword

Community of Aliens

They say that only strangers understand the world. Who are these understanding strangers and what might they look like? Perhaps like the erratic being in Joshua Serafin’s performance VOID, which is inspired by Filipino deities? Or like the “alien collectives” that Sylvia Eckermann and Gerald Nestler conjure in their mixedreality project devoted to cosmic diversity?

donaufestival 2024 is in search of transitory figures to mediate between toxic pasts and unforeseen futures. It poses an “impossible” question: How can a community emerge that is founded on the experience of strangeness and (self-)estrangement and a disrupted relationship with nature? How can transformative aesthetic strategies debunk tyrannical forms of “othering” such as racism and sexism? The alien music of the gospel, soul, and R’n’B atomizer Dawuna or the Black techno act Speaker Music (DeForrest Brown, Jr.), the radically queer visual inventions of Johanna Bruckner or the parallels between robot uprisings and the historical 1981 South London riots in Kibwe Tavares’s video might point in the right direction.

Community of Aliens summons a “community of the unchosen” (Sabine Hark), planetary alliances that can counter the renaissance of imperial violence and new political hostilities. Christian Guerematchi’s spectral figure named Blaq Tito, for instance, reminds us of the politics of the non-aligned states. His video installation echoes the relationship between former Yugoslavia and Ghana, illustrating what Frédéric Neyrat calls the “communism of the strange.” Julian Hetzel & Ntando Cele speculate about an absurdity called “liquid empathy”, a drink distilled from tears. Eglė Budvytytė & Marija Olšauskaitė present shape-shifting bodies that “compost their fear”. The media guerrilla group Total Refusal smuggles its message about the storming of the Capitol into a video game, while Candice Breitz satirises the claim of racism against whites in her video installation Whiteface at Kunsthalle Krems. The artist’s zombiesque eyes plunge her representations of white supremacy into the genre of horror. Who are these white travesties and who are the others?

Last but not least, the notion of a Community of Aliens encourages us to ponder being an alien in your own country, in your own head, in your own body, and to connect with the alienness of others. Here at the festival. In front of the stage, while dancing, in conversation. Bertolt Brecht, the inventor of the anti-illusionist alienation effect in theatre, once wrote: “For all creatures need help from all.”

Thomas Edlinger

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