Robert Fleck on Wed, 2 Feb 2000 22:13:00 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Do not exhibit any longer in Austria!

Nantes, 2.2.2000

Dear friends,

As you know, Austria got today the first federal government since the end
of World War Second with a big participation of nazis. 

I am born in this country, have lived there for 24 years, now writing for
almost twenty years in austrian newspapers, studied political history
(history of democracy...) in this country. Also through my familly, I know
in detail the inside stories of the FPOe - a party founded in 1948, after
the amnesty for the big nazi rulers, to be a legal cover for their
activity. In 1986, Joerg Haider took over the party by a putsch with the
aim to re-establish these origins, and to rehabilitate the nazi period in
Austria, and if possible in Central Europe. 

The actual danger is much beyond Austria: in five years or, let's say,
after the death of Vaclav Havel, whole Central Europe can burn in the same
way like Austria now. The Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, etc. are
ready to follow this political choice. 

Regarding Austria, I am convinced since 1983, when Bruno Kreisky retired,
the first Jewish chancelor in Central Europe since the birth of mankind,
that this spectacular comeback of the Nazis must occure. 

For contemporary arts, I see only one possible choice: 


It has now become absolutely impossible, in moral terms, for any artist,
galerist, museum curator or collector, to exhibit any longer in Austria,
or to cooperate with any Austrian institution. There is only one question
to ask: would you have exhibited in Nazi-Germany? Only with a complete
boycott of the local artlife, we can help the Austrian artists to survive.
The new government wants to show that "everything is as before", regarding
individual liberty. Since 1995, all international known Austrian artists
are under pressure by the party of Joerg Haider; anonymous phone calls,
Nazi-signs on their cars, menaces to take their children - since five
years, many internationally known artists in Vienna are only moving with
their familly in the city inside of closed cars. As far as I know, most of
the jewish community is also behaving like this, because they were
constantly aggressed in the street. During the "100 Years" exhibition in
1998, the Vienna Secession had constantly nazi-signs, painted during the
night, on the building; the Austrian federal police refused to consider
these facts, saying that "this is normal". The next years will be very
hard for Austrian artists.  They all talked to me in the last years or
months about leaving the country.  Even half of the actual students at the
Vienna Academy were thinking about leaving the country. For a writer, an
intellectual, this is relatively easy.  For an artist, to change the
country is very complicated. The only way to help them, is to boycott the
country itself. If you show to the Austrian population that the new
government is outlaw, then - but ONLY then - the woters may consider
during the next elections in 2003 that this may have been a bad choice for
their country. 


There can not be any preference for Austrian artists, but for you,
international collegues, it is just about passing them a phone call or a
mail from time to time, taking care of them in some sense, just hearing if
they are ok and able to work and to exhibit. You all have very many
contacts with Austrian artists. Staying in contact with people ouside can
be very important for each of them. 

I was born in this country, and as one of very few still active
international critics in this country, I have a heavy responsability. With
the nomination of the new government, I announced publically to stop my
collaboration for the big exhibition about the young art scene in Vienna
(other curators:  Paolo Herkenhoff, Maaretta Jaukkuri, Rosa Martinez)
scheduled for Oct. 2000-April 2001 at Kunsthalle Vienna; to stop any
collaboration with Austrian institutions; no longer going to Austria
before the end of the nazi-participation in the government; trying to
change citizenship. But I will stay as much as possible in contact with
the Austrian artists, through the fact that I have a very close
relationship with all artists generations there, from the generation of
the pioneers of an independend art life (Maria Lassnig, Arnulf Rainer), to
the young students. 

Best Wishes,
Robert Fleck

Robert Fleck
post adress:
ERBAN-Ecole Regionale des Beaux-Arts de Nantes
Place Dulcie September
F-44000 Nantes
Tel +33 (0) 2 40 41 58 00
Fax +33 (0) 2 40 41 90 58
(please change my post adress from F-22240 La Bouillie or F-75001 Paris

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