Other than happy [Anders als glücklich] – An exhibition project about Degrowth

Brigitte Felderer, Barbara Horvath, Nina Pohler, Alexandra Strickner, University Gallery of the University of Applied Art at Heiligenkreuzerhof

The exhibition was supposed to take place in dialogue with the international conference “Degrowth Vienna 2020-Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation” to be opened in May 2020. For known reasons the conference was transposed to virtual space and the show was shifted to fall 2020. Nevertheless, we present this project-in-progress since the topic will accompany us in the future.

The exploitation of both material and immaterial resources in a time of brutal growth demands counter-pressure. Artists have dealt with effects of social and economic growth on nature. Artistic works deal with scenarios of a world in which the last animals still survive, or the idea of a present in which only a few cars have survived. The exhibition aims to capture the unrest, the revolt, the resistance in and with people against such destruction. It explores new and unusual forms of protest and how they are networked and mutually reinforcing, and, how they manage to undermine and instrumentalize media. The show may not yet be able to find reconciliatory prospects at the moment, but the artistic contributions make concrete utopias thinkable and also tangible, for societal survival in a world of degrowth.

“In a Degrowth society, everything will be different: different activities, different forms of energy that are used differently, different relationships, different gender roles, a different division of time between paid and unpaid work, different relationships with the non-human world.” (Giacoma D’Alisa, Federico Demaria, Giorgios Kallis (Eds.), Degrowth: Handbuch für eine neue Ära, München 2015, p. 20.) Thus, it is not a matter of doing less in the sense of economic shrinkage, but of living in balance with other people and with nature in order to ensure the survival of the planet across species.

How do we transform ourselves to a nature that we are destroying at the same time, how can a comprehensive transformation be designed to live a convivial society? Big questions in a much too complex world, where new approaches are needed more urgently than ever before to bring together towards a powerful diversity: expertise and mainstream, real constraints and visionary freedoms, commitment and imaginations of fear. “The avant-garde does not surrender”, the artist and critical thinker Asger Jorn had made clear already in 1962. The exhibition project wants to face up to this great and almost militant claim, since we do not refrain from future.

© Anna Vasof: Snowman Commits Suicide, 2020


From May 2020 - Project in Progess
Brigitte Felderer
Barbara Horvath
Nina Pohler
Alexandra Strickner
University Gallery of the University of Applied Art at Heiligenkreuzerhof