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MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues 2017

In March 2015, during the first edition of this “Festival for Time Issues,” few would have doubted the fundamental stability of Western democracies.The European Union seemed too big to fail; “refugee crisis” was not a familiar term on the continent, and terror attacks were still an exception, at least for a majority of Europeans dormant in the assumption that the castle of privilege was self-maintaining, impregnable and secure.

In the second edition in March 2016, “truth” and “politics” were at odds as ever, but “post-truth” politics, the Oxford Dictionaries' word of that year, did not yet ring a bell for many, least an alarm bell triggered by the Brexit vote and the US presidential elections.

Two random years picked by the last editions of MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues. Two years, long enough to give rise to a markedly different world.

Once, it is being said, festivals were celebrated to mark and defy time – measures for change, vessels for consciousness and collective memory, self-reassurances of communities. It is tempting to imagine this seemingly far-fetched approach be applied again today. The question remains, and is more pressing than ever: What can a festival – and I would add: what can a festival located in the midst of Europe – be today? How can it relate to the violence, degradation, instability and fear that surround “us”? How can it reflect, address and be home to a new “us” that is arising in the wake of the rapid reorganization of local and global affairs? How can a festival live up to the fact that it is a public, communal and hence a political space?

MaerzMusik 2017 was not an answer, but rather an attempt at asking such questions by the means available to its specificity: a festival rooted in listening – space and time dedicated to concerts, performances, installations, film screenings, discourse and exhibitions.

The ten composed evenings of MaerzMusik 2017 mirrored matters of concern related to life in the present. Artistic concerns, notably, dealing with – in chronological order – sonic immersion, marginalization, racism, homophobia, colonization, psychograms of Western societies, normativity in artistic practices, gender, ecological and financial crises, inequality, speculative histories, cultures of memory, science-fiction, speculative fabulation, multispecies feminism, mysticism, collectivity, liberation, spirituality, and the perception of time – to name but the most important ones.

At the same time, and importantly, the artistic works presented in the festival constituted their own worlds. Independent of their curatorial contextualization, they stood and spoke for themselves, open to all possible forms of sensing and reading.

Berno Odo Polzer
Artistic Director MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues