Text-World–World-Text: Forumstadtpark - Graz, Austria - June 2016

The Forum Stadtpark in Graz is a unique place. I’d heard about it for a few years before I met those who mastermind the institution in 2015. Not a gallery or venue, more of a communal centre in the heart of Graz, for all arts and all kinds of discussions and meetings, set the idyllic second city of Austria, it has a reputation for supporting some of the most avant-garde work in Europe. The word they seem to use, the warm hearted, playful, endlessly hospitable people who seem to wander in and out of the stadtpark, is transgressive or provocative, alongside everything all else that might be interested in the now or the future. A chance to visit here, to speak and perform was granted to me by virtue of the CROWD omnibus project and a two day symposium called Text World World Text, bringing poets and organisers from all over Europe. The symposium was led by Max Hofler, a friend and a text artist I admire so much and was essentially about poetry and politics, and whether there was a connection between the two.

I had the pleasure of not only exploring Graz, spending days in the beautiful Forum Stadtpark and nights in a monastery which let its rooms out to unsuspecting travellers like me, but also spending time talking and working with brilliant friends and colleagues like Maria Mencia, Kinga Toth, Jorg Piringer, Daniella Seel and new friends, made over these days, like Mathias Traxler, Alvaro Seica, Jaap Blonk, Clemens Schittko and others. The readings were great to go to in the evenings and while the conference was original and valuable, I was a little bias against it, being no fan of conferences, often finding them insular. I won’t go into details about the conference itself, what happens in Graz should stay in Graz, though I will say overall the normal back patting or false argumentation, where academics pretend its ideas not egos that lead to them falling out, was never dominant in the sessions I attended. In fact, there was, for the most part, and more than I have ever witnessed before, a real clarity on the limitations of such a question, and during the talks at least, little grandstanding. What might've been taken for cynicism or misanthropy was a pragmatism and humility about the limitations of poetry, one which I wholeheartedly agree with. Led by Max it had to be fun anyway, and it was.

I hope it’s the first of many visits to the Forum Stadtpark and I’m sure it’s the first of many times I’ll share space and collaborate with some of the amazing poets from all over Europe I’m lucky to get to know at these kind of events.

Exhibited: Manners Maketh Man, my commission for Graz Forumstadtpark Glory Hole series - April 2016

So happy to have been commissioned by the amazing pioneering Forumstadtpark in Austria, curated by the equally groundbreaking Max Hofler, to produce a videotext work, part of their Glory Hole series. This series has been going for years and involves a video with text projected against the side of the Forumstadtpark itself, blown up like a bat signal, in the middle of a huge, beautiful park in the middle of the city. Loads of people see it, and for my work, which runs throughout April, this is true as its being screened while a film festival goes on. Really i had fun making it too, they promote my kind of work. You can see all the glory hole commissions here : https://vimeo.com/forumstadtparkgraz, some great ones, and my edition, the 31st, below

About Forum Stadtpark http://www.forumstadtpark.at/

The FORUM STADTPARK is a place of production and presentation for contemporary art. This house, which is organized as an artists association, stands for a expanded definition of art and for an intersectional work in the following areas ARCHITECTURE, LITERATURE, FINE ARTS, MOVIE, PHOTOGRAPHY, MEDIA ARTS, FASHION, MUSIC, THEATRE, PERFORMANCE, THEORY.

Being a laboratory and a platform for numerous scenes of the Austrian and international cultural production is the claim of this house. The FORUM STADTPARK was created in 1959 in Graz among others by Othmar Carli, Gustav Zankl, Siegfried Neuburg, Emil Breisach and Günter Waldorf. They adapted the empty „Stadtpark Cafe“ for artistic events. Therefore the name FORUM STADTPARK describes the action group as well as the place with the address Stadtpark 1. Today about 150 events take place every year in FORUM STADTPARK – the bigger part with free entrance. Besides the house is accessible barrier-free, uses Open Source Software, is powered by green electricity and is smoke-free.