We are now increasing our efforts also in science communication, with projects of talks and exhibitions in physics, mathematics, and archaeology, together with SANU, the Institute of Physics and the National Museum Belgrade
We talked with Mr. Adrien Feix, Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Belgrade and Cultural Attaché of the Austrian Embassy about their participation in Novi Sad, 2022 European Capital of Culture, about contemporary Austrian culture through scientific achievements and Serbian film in Austria.
Novi Sad has been declared the 2022 European Capital of Culture. Does the Austrian Cultural Forum plan to participate in the related events in Novi Sad, considering the strong ties between Austria and Novi Sad?
It is a great honour and exciting challenge for Novi Sad to be the first European capital of culture outside the EU in over a decade – a unique opportunity to concretize the path of Serbia to the EU. For this reason, and because of our historic ties to Novi Sad, preparing the European Capital of Culture has been a strategic priority for the Austrian Cultural Forum for the last few years – and I am happy to announce that as a result, we are planning a record of 40 events in 2022 in Novi Sad! We were very visible already last year with five paintings from the Belvedere in the Gallery of Matica Srpska and with two New Year’s concerts, including the downtempo legends “Kruder & Dorfmeister”. We also supported an excellent group exhibition on migration at SULUV Gallery and are now finalizing preparations for the exhibition of Feminist Avantgarde at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina as well as a guest concert at the Tamburica festival in August. More highlights will follow in Autumn, we will keep you posted!
You also represent contemporary Austrian culture through scientific achievements. Will such topics be relevant this year or maybe the focus will shift to environmental protection and climate change?
Science lays the foundation of every society and we have once again become aware of this during the pandemic. It drives improvements in life quality and health, but also in innovations in cultural creation. Serbia and Austria already have very strong connections in the field of arts and science, with the Ars Electronica in Linz and the Center for the promotion of Science as two outstanding partners working on topics such as Artificial Intelligence.
“We were very visible already last year with five paintings from the Belvedere in the Gallery of Matica Srpska and with two New Year’s concerts, including the downtempo legends “Kruder & Dorfmeister””
We are now increasing our efforts also in science communication, with projects of talks and exhibitions in physics, mathematics, and archaeology, together with SANU, the Institute of Physics and the National Museum Belgrade. When it comes to ecology, which is one of the future-defining topics globally, we are currently working on establishing an operational scientific network between Austria and Serbia to foster projects in the future.
In March, Austrian films have been showcased to the Serbian audience at the 69th Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival. Are there going to be more Austrian film screenings this year?
The Austrian film is present at nearly all notable film events in Serbia. Recently, at FEST, we had screenings of “Hinterland” and “Lucifer”; at Martovski, an excellent short movie programme from the festival “Vienna Shorts”, and we will also be extending our long-term cooperation with Beldocs, Merlinka, and ŠIFF. In parallel to that, we will continue to organize the Austrian Film Festival with the Cultural Centers of Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš in September as a way to present the diversity of productions and aesthetics coming out of Austria, including Serbian premieres and guest filmmakers.
On the other hand, Serbian film is not so well known in Austria. Is the Serbian film industry promoted at all in Austria?
Serbian films are actually present in Austria at the excellent “Crossing Europe” festival in Linz and often also at “Viennale”, the most important film event. But it is true that there is still room for improvement to increase the visibility in both directions, given the cultural and geographic proximity and quality of both cinematographies. Because of the inertia of the film sector, this is a long-term endeavor, which requires establishing solid personal ties between film professionals in both countries. Besides festivals, workshops are a key tool for that.
Since you have been the director of the Austrian Cultural Forum, do you think that the cooperation between the two countries in culture and science has grown stronger? Are there more joint projects and co-productions?
The cooperation was already very close thanks to my predecessors, especially in music and visual arts. I am proud that we managed to maintain it in spite of the pandemic restrictions, including with very visible events, such as the “Ode to Beethoven” in 2020 or the online platform and outdoor exhibition “At Second Glance” in 2021. I believe that in some areas, such as film, we even managed to deepen the ties in the last years, by successfully restarting the Austrian Film Festival last autumn.
“I believe that in some areas, such as film, we even managed to deepen the ties in the last years, by successfully restarting the Austrian Film Festival last autumn”
The same goes for institutional cooperation, fostered by the Novi Sad capital of culture with the Gallery of Matica Srpska, the Serbian National Theatre, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina and the Museum of Vojvodina being prime examples of intense cooperation with Austrian counterparts.
Since the coronavirus pandemic is winding down, do you have a clearer plan for what will happen this year?
It appears that cultural activities are essentially back to pre-pandemic levels, but with a few important caveats. There is still some hesitancy of artists to travel and of the public to attend large-scale events. We will have to make extra efforts to bring some people back to events, this will not necessarily happen by itself. When it comes to expert exchange, virtual conferences are clearly here to stay, because they are convenient, but since they do not achieve the same impact as live meetings, we tend to focus our support on live or at least hybrid events. And of course, the Russian aggression on Ukraine will upend many things again, also in the field of culture.