Interview with Mrs. ELISABETH MARINKOVIC, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Bucharest.
As this interview is included in the special supplement on Austria’s National Day, I want to ask you how do Austrians celebrate this day? How are they relating to such an event celebrating the national pride, patriotism in a time when individualism and consumerism are mostly prevailing?
Similar as the other countries, we also celebrate our National Day. The celebration should remind us, that we regained independence and the full sovereignty after World War II, the part of the history which enabled us to live now in a well functioning prosperous community.
The National Day is been celebrated diversely. Some people watch the military parade in the city center. This is a huge event accompanied by concerts and interactive shows. Others simply use this special day for a trip or excursion into the nature.
The Austrian Cultural Forum develops a very prolific activity in Romania. I see a busy agenda this autumn. If you can give us some insights of the most important cultural events developed this year.
Austria is a country generally regarded as a “cultural country”, and enjoys a certain standing in the world which enables it to play a more important role than it would based on political or economic policy criteria alone.
According to our international cultural policy the task of the Austrian Cultural Forum abroad is to continuously update this positive image (that is based on Austria´s rich cultural heritage) by drawing attention to recent cultural achievements. Our goal is to present the contemporary, innovative and creative Austria and we do have thematic priorities: film and new media, architecture, dance, women in art and science and intercultural dialogue.
For example this spring, we organized together with the City of Vienna and the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism the exhibition “Young Viennese Architects YO.V.A.3 “. The cooperation with the University will continue in November with the exhibition “Getting things done” – a showcase of contemporary architecture from our westernmost federation state – Vorarlberg.
In terms of intercultural dialogue we have a close cooperation with the Agency Impreuna and work together on events during the Roma Week in April. This year we presented (in cooperation with ARCUB) an exhibition of 14 Roma origin artists coming from 12 different European countries which included lots of side-events. We also plan to continue the cooperation with Impreuna for the next year.
Another focus of 2015 has been the “Turkish Austria” event series where we presented Austrian musicians, dancers with Turkish-Kurdish background or films done by Austrian/Turkish/Kurdish filmmakers.
The Night of European Literature is an event concept coming from the Czech Republic and organized in several cities of Europe. The idea is to present new translations of European literature by public reading made by professional performers at attractive and original city locations. It is an event organized within the EUNIC network (European National Institutes for Culture). In 2015 – 14 European cultural institutes based in Bucarest organized this kind of readings in the Astronomic Institute and the Technical Museum in Bucharest. The Austrian contribution was the reading from “Amantele” – the Romanian translation of “Die Liebhaberinnen” by the Austrian Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek.
The story takes place in a bra factory – therefore the Technical Museum was the perfect location for our reading. And the performer Smaranda Caragea made the audience play an active role in the event which was very well done and quite well received.
What else do you have in store in terms of leisure and cultural events for this year-end?
This autumn and winter we will be engaged with contemporary dance and performance. We will support two Austrian productions at Explore Dance Festival. We also have one theater performance at HomeFest. And in December we will support the show “More than naked” by Doris Uhlich at the Centrul National al Dansului Bucuresti . Doris Uhlich opened this year´s ImPuls Tanz Festival in Vienna.
Besides all – within the frame of the Austrian Cultural Days in Arad – we are commemorating the year 1955 and its significance for both Austria and Romania.
What would have Austrian and Romania cultures in common, in your view?
The love for contemporary dance, design, filmmaking and fine arts. These are fields of activities where both our countries are quite strong, each in its own way, of course.
What do you think are the most visible and profitable (professionally speaking) fine arts in Austria at present? (literature, music, film, etc?)
At the international level Austria is especially well-known for its achievements in the field of music but also enjoys an excellent reputation in fine arts and literature. Therefore the Austrian international cultural policy strives to place a stronger focus on the above mentioned sectors: dance, architecture and film.
If you had to convince a Romanian tourist to go to Austria for a cultural, travel adventure what would you advise him/her to do/visit?
It depends on the visitor’s field of interest because Austria offers cultural events for every taste.
Due to my focus points my personal suggestions would be the ImPuls Tanz Festival (Vienna, July-August) and the Vienna Design Week (September-October) and the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz (September). But it always depends what you are interested in.
If You are interested in film, You should visit Diagonale Festival in Graz (March), and if You are a passionate theatre viewer and classical music fan, I would definitely recommend Salzburger Festspiele (July, August). For a short stay in Vienna – You should visit State Opera or some attractive theatre performance in Burgtheater.
How long have you been in Romania? Have you managed to travel throughout the country? What location impressed you the most? What would be Romania’s pros and cons?
I have already been here for three years and luckily, I have also had the chance to travel a lot. I am especially impressed by the diversity of the country and an extremely lively young art scene – this is definitely an asset. Unfortunately it is quite difficult and time consuming to travel through the country by car.