Podcast in English
Размер на шрифта
Bulgarian National Radio © 2022 All Rights Reserved

The WIENWOCHE festival in Vienna and the Bulgarian connection

The festival showcases Vienna's urban art and sets global topics for discussion

Photo: personal library

"Art is a lie, but this lie teaches us how to get to the truth" - these words of the great Picasso seem to be the universal translation of the efforts of all artists around the world. The search for the "truth" for a better world, for the construction of a more beautiful and healthy stage on which each of us can get his or her most appropriate role in the play "Life", is the guiding principle for contemporary art. Today we tell you about a small festival that has been working for ten years to change the society of Vienna and the view of immigrants there.

WIENWOCHE or "Vienna Week" is a cultural event that experiments with the fusion of creative practices and activism. Traditionally, since 2012, WIENWOCHE has been held every year in September, and Bulgaria has been an important part of its history. After an open competition, the programme of the first four editions of the festival was commissioned to a team of three artists - the Bulgarians Petja Dimitrova and Radostina Patulova and their Turkish colleague Can Gülcü.

"The festival was founded in 2011 and around that time the city government of Vienna changed. A green party entered as a coalition partner, which got committed to rethinking the financing of the city's cultural production. Support was provided to the post-emigrant cultural production in Vienna, because as we know, the whole of Europe is in a geopolitical transformation in recent years and practically all societies are emigrant, as Bulgaria is about to admit soon. The formats are very different, not only related to fine art, but created by independent collectives, groups, musicians. The main idea of the festival is that it is anti-Semitic, anti-homophobic, anti-racist, anti-feminist - the main thing is the absence of any personal or social discrimination. It is a small, local festival in the alternative scene, but it gives artists who do not have a lot of experience and acquaintances in the Austrian cultural community the opportunity to continue developing and to be noticed," Petya Dimitrova told Radio Bulgaria from the Austrian capital.

Petja herself knows well the path that an artist takes in a foreign and unfamiliar country. Born in 1972, she admits that she belongs to the generation that grew up in the socialist reality with the dream of life in the free, Western world. Categorically against illegal escape, Petja remained in her homeland until the beginning of the 1990s when, as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts, she took advantage of the relations between Austria and Bulgaria established at that time and completed her higher education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. The rest is history on Austrian territory. And although for her Vienna was not an initial and purposeful choice, but an opportunity that arose on the way, the place turned out to be the right path, which has been going on for twenty years. And the reason is very simple, Petja says:

"Well, it is life. One settles down, creates friends, an environment, a network of work contacts and, last but not least, a better standard of living, which, being a girl from an average Bulgarian family, I did not have before. There is a very large Bulgarian diaspora in Austria - before 1989, it was political, after the democratic changes – members of the nomenclature, also workers and university students. Many of my colleagues and acquaintances returned to Bulgaria. I didn't have that opportunity and continued my life here."

Petja returns to Bulgaria every summer and gladly accepts an invitation to work together with artists in her homeland. The leading part of her work is the analysis of socio-political processes and the illumination of people from society who are struggling to change it - all that is combined in itself and the WIENWOCHE festival.

This year the festival will be held between September 16 and 25 in various places in Vienna and includes numerous exhibitions, discussion panels, workshops and other events, with the participation of many Bulgarian artists. Petja Dimitrova is one of them with her work Doing the dirty work, in partnership with Violeta Ivanova.

"The idea has existed for ten years now, which indicates that such events are significant signals and a struggle to redefine society and change the qualifications of all its members, especially emigrants," says Bulgarian artist Petja Dimitrova.

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: personal library

Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

French cartoonist Plantu to unveil an exhibition in Sofia

The world-famous French cartoonist Plantu will visit Bulgaria for his exhibition entitled "Europe - free, democratic and sustainable". It will be opened on December 7 at 17:30 at Slaveykov Square in front of the French Cultural Institute.  The..

published on 12/5/22 6:10 PM

Special program marks the 80th birth anniversary of legendary Bulgarian actor Stefan Danailov

"Well, how can I not be satisfied with life? Look how cute I am. I wish my students that God gives them the chance to experience what happened to me in my life. I have already told a lot about life - it is joy, happiness and a smile…"..

published on 12/5/22 3:42 PM

Bulgarian documentary receives first prize at festival in Bolivia

The Bulgarian documentary “Controlled Breaths of Air” won first place award at Black Cat Award International Film Festival in Bolivia. The festival showcases art and humanity and all revenues from screenings will be donated to Ukraine. The money will..

published on 11/28/22 10:57 AM