The importance of public space in promoting the common good has been central to various discussions and speeches held at Elevate Festival. Modern societies enable positive change and awareness of social issues by allowing artistic projects the use of public space. But how do the projects succeed? Much of this communication and artistic expression takes place in urban environments outside of people’s homes and workplaces. How might projects then stimulate discourse and spark novel rethinking of pertinent social issues?
Elevate Festival asks: How can urban interventions inspire discourse within a city?
Onorthodox answers: Urban intervention can surely be an important tool in inspiring interaction and reflection. Onorthodox believes that an essential step is the use of media and content that will inherently generate reactions.
When scanning the now gentrifying Brunnenviertel neighborhood in Vienna, the rich mixture of people is immediately apparent. Over the last two decades, the quarter has become a genuine melting pot–home to an eclectic group of inhabitants. Here, residents with Turkish, former-Yugoslavian, Eastern European and Austrian roots live amongst each other.
Over a prominent, neighborhood square, two giant faces appear on an old market office: one is a modern Muslim woman wearing a hijab, and the other is a Viennese hipster, a symbol of the area’s newcomers. These massive paste-up images–looking onto the milieu of people playing, resting, sleeping, drinking or just passing by–are both a reflection of and a tribute to the area’s diverse citizenry. For the very first time, the heterogeneity of the area is portrayed. Despite their different origins, styles, appearances or identities, these groups have established a special symbiotic relationship. They all belong here and have the right to the city and its public space.
The depiction of the two dissimilar but modern faces triggers interest and emotion. Will they be accepted or disowned? Can these depictions break taboos? Do passers by identify with them and do they reflect on the juxtaposition? Furthermore, will it inspire discussion?
The public may view this project as an embodiment of diversity, a provocation, or a simple decorative embellishment of the public space. It is, however, meant to incite both chitchat and deeper public discourse. The flexibility of the piece and its variety of possible meanings is its key in inspiring discourse.
No matter the viewer, the pieces induce a reaction. As we were posting them on the walls, the inquisitive onlookers and their battery of questions indicated its nascent success. With this work, Onorthodox is taking a further step in its commitment to teach and learn within communities. “It is our generation that finds common ground in claiming space and aims to keeps diversity alive in a modern way.”
It is not about you- it’s about us!