Culture, Media, Science
Chancellor Gusenbauer: “Another step towards a more social Austria
The federal government adopted a comprehensive set of measures in the Council of Ministers on 31 October 2007. In the subsequent press conference Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Vice-Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer informed about the joint resolutions, e.g. the ceiling on prescription fees, the amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act, improvements for quasi-freelancers as well as the ban on selling alcohol to young people younger than 16 years.
Thus vital results were achieved, notably in the social sphere. The ceiling on prescription fees will enter into force on 1 January 2008. Then the insured will spend a maximum of 2% of their monthly/annual net income on medication. Beyond that percentage no prescription fees have to be paid. About 300,000 persons are expected to benefit from the new rule. This is a “quite important social improvement”, especially for older people as well as people suffering from chronic or multiple illnesses, stressed the Federal Chancellor. By passing this resolution, “one of the key social objectives of the government’s programme” was implemented.
The government also agreed on substantial improvements of the legal situation of quasi-freelancers and the self-employed. These groups will be covered by unemployment and health insurance and thus benefit from full social insurance protection. Moreover, amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act allow employees to go on educational leave, while receiving double the amount to which they were entitled previously, i.e. about 850 euros per month. Thus the opportunities to obtain better qualifications increased and “another step has been made towards a more social Austria”, emphasised Gusenbauer.
Other changes agreed on (taking effect in January 2008) are to abolish mandatory driving with lights on and to impose a fine of 50 euros on phoning while driving unless a hands-free kit is used. As a measure against alcohol abuse among young people, the sale of alcohol to teens younger than 16 years is subject to a general prohibition also in shops. Hard drinks are permitted only to people aged 18 plus. The fines imposed on restaurants and bars failing to comply with this rule will become stiffer. ■
Austria celebrated national holiday
On 26 October 2007 Austria celebrated its national holiday (Declaration of Neutrality of 26 October 1955). After the traditional wreath-laying ceremony in the crypt of the Gate to Hofburg, the federal government led by Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer gathered for a special session of the Council of Ministers. In the evening the “Concert for Austria” was attended jointly (see Culture).
In keeping with the tradition, also this year the President’s Office, the Federal Chancellery, Parliament, the ministries and museums staged an Open Day. Federal President Heinz Fischer and Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer personally welcomed thousands of visitors at their official residences. Attracting 8,500 persons, the Federal Chancellery registered a new record.
At Heldenplatz the Federal Army offered a presentation and the swearing-in ceremony of new recruits. The event was also attended by numerous Austrian athletes.
Federal President Fischer underlined in his TV statement in the evening of the Austrian national holiday that neutrality remained “unaffected” by the EU Treaty. But a failure of the EU Treaty would “harm Austria and Europe”, he warned.
Another highlight of the Austrian national holiday was the beatification of Franz Jägerstätter, a resistance fighter executed by the Nazis, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Linz. ■
Chancellor Gusenbauer: neutrality is an indispensable foundation
At the special session of the Council of Ministers on the Austrian national holiday (26 October), Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer made a clear commitment to neutrality. It was an “indispensable foundation for the foreign and security policy” of Austria. At the same time Gusenbauer stated that “neutrality and solidarity were not contradictions” but complemented one another. Austria had always lent active support in Europe and all over the world, said the Chancellor, highlighting the humanitarian and peace-keeping missions of the Federal Army. With regard to the EU Reform Treaty, the Chancellor stated to be “happy” that the “func-tioning of the Union was now guaranteed”. ■
International Kosovar Women’s Symposium in Vienna
In parallel to the new negotiation round on the future status of the South Serbian province Kosovo in Vienna (5 November 2007), a two-day Kosovar women’s symposium (5/6 No-vember) takes place in Austria’s federal capital. The event titled “Shaping our European Future – Networking of Serbian and Kosovar Women“ is hosted by Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at the Diplomatic Academy.
The aim of the symposium is to bring together Serbian and Kosovo-Albanian women representatives of politics, the media, business and the civil society. The talks explicitly focus on concrete areas of cooperation which were hardly taken into account in the previous status negotiations: education, social affairs, economy and the media. The aim of the symposium was “not a duplication of the status negotiations” but to give voice to the women (constituting no less than 50% of the population of Serbia and Kosovo), Plassnik explained in the preliminaries. Among the Serbian representatives who had accepted the invitation was Youth Minister Snezana Samardzic-Markovic, Deputy Foreign Minister Milica Delevic, human rights activist from Belgrade Natasa Kandic and Vice-President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Radmila Milivojevic. The Kosovo-Albanian guests in-clude the politicians Nekibe Kelmendi and Edita Tahiri as well as Vjosa Dobruna, Chairwoman of the Kosovar public broadcasting corporation. ■
Austrian peace-keeping missions continued
On 31 October 2007 the federal government agreed on continuing Austria’s participation in twelve European and international peace-keeping missions, e.g. the EU Police Missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Palestinian Territories, the Multinational Task Force Mission in Kosovo, the UN missions in Cyprus and the Golan Heights as well as the EU Monitoring Mission in the Western Balkans, which remains a priority of Austria’s peace-keeping commitment. Currently, about 1,200 Austrian men and women are active in the framework of peace-keeping missions of the UN and the EU across the world. ■
President Fischer at presidents’ meeting in Liechtenstein
On 29 October 2007 Federal President Heinz Fischer participated in an informal meeting of German-speaking heads of state in the Principality of Liechtenstein. The invitation of Hereditary Prince Alois von Liechtenstein was also accepted by German President Horst Köhler and Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. Among the subjects discussed were the EU Reform Treaty, EU enlargement and inter-national topics like the Middle East, the Balkans and climate change. President Fischer called for a speedy solution of the Kosovo issue. ■
Bavarian Governor Günther Beckstein visits Austria
Bavaria’s new Governor Günther Beckstein pays an official one-day visit to Austria on 5 November 2007. Items on the agenda are a meeting with President Heinz Fischer, Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, Vice-Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer and Minister for Economics Martin Bartenstein. The bilateral relations between Bavaria and Austria are considered unproblematic. With a trade volume of 25.2 billion euros (2006), Austria is Bavaria’s leading trading partner in the EU and the second most important at international level. A return visit of Gusenbauer has been scheduled for early January. ■
Chancellor Gusenbauer in Rome
On 25 October 2007 Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer held talks in Rome, inter alia with Italian head of government Romano Prodi and President Giorgio Napolitano. Gusenbauer praised the excellent bilateral relations and expressed his pleasure about the agreement on the EU Reform Treaty. ■
International conference to stop violence against women
In the framework of the Council of Europe’s campaign to prevent violence against women, Women’s Minister Doris Bures and Minister of the Interior Günther Platter hold the international conference “Stop domestic violence against women” in Vienna and St. Pölten (5-7.11). ■
Austrian exports continue to grow
Based on preliminary data, Austria’s foreign trade recorded a sharp increase between January and August 2007. While the total value of imports rose by 7.8% to 72.75 billion euros compared to the same period of last year, exports grew even faster, by 10.3% to 73.46 billion euros. Thus Austria registered a surplus of 0.71 billion euros in international trade, informed the Austrian Statistical Office (Statistik Austria) on 29 October 2007.
In the period under review, Austria imported considerably more goods from the Member States of the European Union than it exported to them. Hence, the trade balance with this region was in the red: minus 1.58 billion euros. It imported goods worth 54.34 billion euros from the EU; this corresponds to an increase by 8.1% compared to the same period of 2006. Exports to EU Member States amounted to 52.76 billion euros (year-on-year increase: 10.4%).
With third countries Austria registered a trade balance surplus of 2.28 billion euros between January and August 2007. Imports rose by 6.8% to 18.42 billion euros, while exports climbed by 10% to 20.70 billion euros. ■
140 billon euros in Austrian savings accounts
When money is involved, the Austrians give priority to security. The passbook is enjoying a revival as the most popular type of investment. This is mainly due to higher interest rates and tight share markets. Investments in shares have declined significantly, as a study on the aggre-gation of monetary assets and financing by private households shows, which was presented by the Austrian National Bank (OeNB) in Vienna on 23 October 2007.
Of a total of 11.4 billion euros invested by private persons in financial assets during the first six months 2007, no less than 7.8 billion euros were entered in passbooks, while these deposits had amounted to “only“ 6.1 billion euros in the entire year 2006.
Bank deposits (current accounts, fixed-term deposits and savings deposits) currently undergo a “renaissance”, explained OeNB Director Peter Zöllner. At present almost one third of the total monetary assets of the Austrians, i.e. about 140 billion euros, are invested in passbooks. The Austrian households actively invested 6.4 billion euros as savings deposits by the end of June 2007 and earned an additional interest income of 1.4 billion euros. Preference was given to deposits due at call or short-term deposits. ■
Gusenbauer: SMEs safeguard Austria’s competitiveness
Jointly with the magazine “Trend” and Bank Austria, the Economic Chamber Austria (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich/WKÖ) conferred the award “Trio of the Year” on Austria’s most successful entrepreneurs in the trade, crafts and services sectors on 22 October 2007. The award – granted for the 15th time – was presented in a ceremony in the presence of Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, Minister for Economic Affairs Martin Bartenstein and WKÖ President Christoph Leitl.
In his laudatory statement Gusenbauer hailed above all the achievements of Austrian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the field of training. “The excellent training in SMEs is one of the factors guaranteeing the competitiveness of the Austrian economy and its good reputation”, said the Chancellor. He described small trade as the backbone of the dual training system and reminded the other economic sectors of their duty to contribute. “The apprentices not trained today are the skilled workers we are lacking tomorrow”, warned Gusenbauer.
Among the prize winners are the companies drexel und weiss GmbH, Electronics GmbH and Leeb Biomilch GmbH. ■
EURO 2008: WKÖ’s free logo “Euphorio“ for advertising by SMEs
The Economic Chamber Austria (WKÖ) developed a “campaign logo“, which its 370,000 member companies may use free of charge for advertising during the European Football Championship EURO 2008. The use of the logo – a red child with arms reaching out and wings – was based on a safe legal foundation and had been agreed on both with UEFA and the campaign “Austria on the ball“, informed WKÖ Secretary-General Reinhold Mitterlehner in Vienna on 30 October 2007.■
Eisenstadt: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra “Concert for Austria“
With their “Concert for Austria“ on 26 October 2007 (the Austrian national holiday), the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra opened up new vistas. This was the first time that the concert, which is traditionally dedicated to all volunteers providing services to society and the people, did not take place at Vienna State Opera but in a Land. The venue of the premiere broadcasted live on the Austrian TV channel ORF 2 was the Hadyn Hall (known for its excellent acoustics) of Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, the capital of Burgenland. There the revolutionary first master of the Vienna classical period of music Joseph Haydn (born in 1732) had lived and worked for decades. On 31 May 2009 the 200th anniversary of his death will be commemorated. Austria plans to celebrate the “Haydn Year“ with a series of superb performances.
Federal President Heinz Fischer, Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, Vice-Chancellor Wilhelm Molterer, several members of the federal government, Governors Hans Niessl (Burgenland) and Franz Voves (Styria) as well as numerous celebrities of art and society listened to the “Concert for Europe”. Daniel Harding conducted a programme featuring Schubert’s “3rd Symphony“ and his “German Dances“ in the highly refined version of Anton Webern. Before the concert was concluded with Johann Strauß’ “Artist’s Life“, Webern’s predodecaphonic “Six Pieces for Orchestra“ op. 6 were presented in a moving interpretation to a breathless audience. The outstanding performance of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor won the enthusiastic applause of the audience, including many volunteers committed to social work, to whom half of the tickets had been given as a gift. ■
MUMOK: China – Facing Reality
In cooperation with the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), MUMOK provides an insight into China’s contemporary art on an exhibition surface of almost 2000m2. The exhibition is running through 10 February 2008. All of the more than 200 works were created during the past five years by representatives of the younger generation of artists. They demonstrate the incredible diversity of methods of realistic representation in China, a country that is not only undergoing an economic but also cultural boom. The team of curators, MUMOK Director Edelbert Köb and NAMOC Director Fan Di’an, selected 27 exemplary positions of an internationally successful generation of artists who all live and work in China. The 1990s marked the beginning of a re-orientation as the artists examined their own traditions against the background of Western influences. They present a multi-facetted, often critical image of the socio-political realities in China between Socialism and economic liberalism.
Realistic approaches to expression are a common thread running through Chinese contemporary art, which in the wake of globalisation, rapid urbanisation and medialisation developed an immense pluralism of media and themes. The performing arts, installations, digital photo-graphy, film, video and computer animation absorbed the stylistic means of traditional realistic depiction in painting and sculpture – revolutionary or Socialist realism, traditional Chinese animal and landscape painting. Hence, today realisms can be described as the most complex and interesting phenomenon of contemporary Chinese art. The concise presentations of the works of individual artists by MUMOK makes it possible to examine the importance of artists, many of whom achieve record prices in the international art market. ■
MAK: Padhi Frieberger – no art without artist
Padhi Frieberger was born in Vienna in 1931. As an outsider of the Viennese art scene and a contemporary of Wiener Gruppe (Vienna Group), who turned his life into a synthesis of the arts, he created with great versatility an oeuvre encompassing various avant-garde movements. “Art is an attack” was his motto. He was a hippy even before the hippy era, bred peace pigeons, created assemblage art between sculpture and object image, partly by using found objects. He was also active as a jazz musician and photographer. His artistic intentions show affinities with the Dadaist art of Kurt Schwitter and the Nouveau Realistes, in particular Jean Tinguely and Daniel Spoerri.
The avant-garde artist, whose life became increasingly austere, left an oeuvre which has been underrated in the art market. This could change easily after the fascinating show, ending on 30 March 2008. ■
Vienna Jewish Museum Wien: Josef Frank – architect and outsider
Josef Frank was considered one of the most important architects and designers of his time. Frank – who had been born into a Jewish family in Baden (Lower Austria) in 1855 – studied architecture with Carl König at the Technical University in Vienna. Soon he left behind the traditional work of his teacher, becoming a representative of Critical Modernism. Around 1913 he realised his first one-family houses. Together with Oskar Wlach, he founded the interior design shop “Haus und Garten” (Home and Garden) in 1925. From 1930 to 1932 the social housing project “Wiener Werkbundsiedlung” was built under Frank’s leadership. Against the background of growing anti-Semitism, he emigrated with his Swedish wife Anna to Stockholm in 1933. Aged almost 50 he was offered a position as a designer with Svenskt Tenn. This was the beginning of a highly successful career. When Norway and Denmark were occupied by the Nazis, the Franks left Europe and started to work in the USA. After the end of WWII., they returned to Sweden.
Forty years after his death, the Jewish Museum Vienna presents – in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Stockholm – the exhibition “Josef Frank. arkitekt och outsider“, showcasing fine examples of his oeuvre as an architect and designer (from 22 November 2007 to 20 January 2008). Works dating back to Frank’s time in Vienna are also on show. ■
Jewish Museum Vienna: Wilhelm Reich – Sex! Pol! Energy!
From 16 November 2007 to 9 March 2008 the Jewish Museum Vienna hosts the first comprehensive exhibition on the work and life of Wilhelm Reich, who was born in Galicia in 1897. His enemies considered him a deranged eretic, while his disciples hailed him as an ingenious scientific innovator. As the father of the “sexual revolution“, he was an idol of the so-called “generation of 1968“. In the 1920s Reich became a controversial young star of psychoanalysis in Vienna. His studies “The Function of the Orgasm“ and “Character Analysis“ created a furore. He tried to create a synthesis of the theories of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, which he wanted to realise with the aid of “Sexpol“, a sexual policy platform. The nonconformist met with outright rejection. He was expelled from the Social Democratic Party and the International Psychoanalytical Association. The Communist Party of Germany (KPD) also distanced itself from him. In 1933 he published one of his master works, which has become a classic: “Mass Psychology of Fascism“. After 1933 Wilhelm Reich was in exile in Denmark and Norway. At the beginning of WWII. he went to the USA, where he started to do research on biological, physical and cosmological issues. He further developed Freud’s libido theory into a comprehensive theory of cosmic life energy, which he called “Orgone theory”, based on his mind-body therapies of the 1930s. He became increasingly isolated both as a researcher and privately. After a lawsuit he died in the Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg (USA) in 1957.
Thanks to the support of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust in Rangeley, Maine (USA), the original exhibits previously displayed only there, are now on show in Vienna – together with parts of the estate which had been under lock and key until this year. ■
Jewish Museum Vienna: music marking the beginning of a new epoch – the Korngolds
There is hardly any other family better suited to reflecting the music life of Vienna in the early 20th century than the Korngolds. The father, Julius Korngold, was an influential critic of his time. He was contracted by Theodor Herzl as the music critic for the then leading German-language newspaper “Neue Freie Presse“ after the eminent critic Eduard Hanslick retired. His son Erich Wolfgang was a musical child prodigy. The opera “The Dead City“ was among the most frequently performed works of that time. Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria in the 1930s deprived Jewish composers of their careers. Erich Wolfgang Korngold gained a foothold in Hollywood. For Max Reinhardt he arranged Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“ already in 1934. As a film music composer he created the “Hollywood sound“. Winning two Oscars (e.g. for the film “The Adventures of Robin Hood“ with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland) – Korngold is still considered one of the most successful Hollywood composers.
The exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna (28 November 2007 to 18 May 2008) presents the most important artistic periods of E.W. Korngold against the background of the father-son relationship, his triumphs as a child prodigy, as a composer and internationally as an arranger of operettas, as a film music composer in the USA and also his unsuccessful attempt to establish himself in Vienna after World War II.
From 16 to 30 November 2007, the Austrian Film Museum – located in the same building as Vienna Albertina, 1010, Augustinerstraße 1 – presents all great Korngold films produced in Hollywood. A concert gala “Hollywood in Vienna“ with Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien conducted by John Mauceri will be given at Konzerthaus on 29 November 2007. ■
MAK: “100 best posters 2006“
The Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) presents the exhibition “100 Best Posters 06“ from 21 November to 9 December 2007. This is the second time MAK shows the most impressive results of the competition for graphic design from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which was established in Germany in 1966. The current trend is towards communication design with innovative expression. The Austrian contributions in 2006 stand out for their subtle humour, e.g. the official posters designed for Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival), the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and the 150th anniversary of Freud’s birth. The advertising agency Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann skilfully orchestrates a personality cult of Austrian icons, who are obviously enervated by the hype.
A poster of the agency “3007“ for the electronic music festival of the Vienna off-concert scene humorously asks: “Is Mozart a Modernist?“ The artistic product is inspired in the childhood of the child star Mozart, who had to carve out a new career for himself as an adult. Under the motto “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood“, “3007“ – together with the artists – created a spectacular poster.
The Vienna-based agency Perndl+Co Design GmbH offers an excellent example of combining modern poster design and applied arts. Nina Pavicsits designed the poster “MINI MAK in Advent“ for the MAK’s children programme. On the backside of the poster she drew the pattern for a dress, which the children could paint based on their own ideas and cut out. ■
Wagner:Werk Museum Postsparkasse: Henkel Art.Award. 2007
At the Wagner:Werk Museum Postsparkasse several prizes were awarded on 30 October 2007. The Henkel Art.Award 2007 in the category “Industrial Design“ went to Rajmund Domán (Hungary), who invented a coffee maker and a coffee cup for professional mountaineers. These products are simple to handle and easily fit into a rucksack. At present no comparable products are available in the market.
The “Nachwuchsförderpreis Österreich 2007”, the Austrian prize for young talents, was conferred on designer Hermann Trebsche from Ternitz (Lower Austria). To counter the flooding of the children’s toy market with inferior products, he developed a “mobility kit” for multiple use. Its aim is to stimulate the motoric control, creative-constructive thinking, social behaviour and articulation of children.
The “Nachwuchsförderpreis CEE 2007”, the prize for talents from Central and Eastern Europe, which is granted in cooperation with the artist-in-residence programme of KulturKontakt Austria went to the Ukrainian artists’ duo “SOSka group” (Nickolay Ridniy and Anna Kriventsova). The work of the two artists revolves around homelessness and poverty. In video stories and public actions they describe life in Charkov from an ironical and critical perspective and reject the social rules. ■
Opera: exciting “Pique Dame“
Vienna State Opera’s own production of Tchaikovsky’s “Pique Dame“ (“The Queen of Spades”), directed by Vera Nemirowa, became a sensational success. The opera was conducted by Seiji Ozawa. The audience, including Chancellor Gusenbauer, cheered the singers Neil Shicoff, Martina Serafin and Anja Silja. ■
“SPORT:FUTURE” – political leaders discuss new perspectives in sport
The dialogue on the future of sport “SPORT:FUTURE“ was launched on 29 October 2007 in the presence of Federal Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, Secretary of State for Sport Reinhold Lopatka and President of the Federal Sports Organisation Franz Löschnak. The aim of this dialogue on the tasks and opportunities of the Austrian sports system is to make sport fit for the challenges of the future. During one year sports organisations and politicians will explore new avenues. The subjects covered will include the simplification of subsidy schemes, school and sport, training centres for young talents and federal centres of excellence for top athletes, sport and work balance, the modernisation of educational systems for sport trainers and the promotion of women in sport. Federal Chancellor Gusenbauer announced an interactive process, which will be launched together with the sports organisations: “The aim is an extensive analysis of the long-term goals and tasks of sport. The outcome of this dialogue should be a modern, high-performance and future-oriented system, which can serve as a basis for all other measures in sport.“ Secretary of State for Sport Lopatka highlighted the sound foundation of the Austrian sport: “The new Sports Promotion Act 2005 adopted by the previous government, the new Anti-Doping Act and NADA Austria as well as the doubling of the federal sports subsidies between 2000 and 2008 are the ideal starting point for this dialogue on the future of sport.“ It should not focus on structural issues but rather on the tasks and challenges facing sport in the next years. The independence of sport was unquestionable. With regard to the 100 million euros that are made available to sport by the federal government under the general and special federal sports promotion schemes, transparency, performance reviews and evaluation were, however, required. A joint final document will summarise the findings and provide a basis for budget negotiations and possible legislative initiatives in autumn 2008. ■
228 days until “EURO 2008“
On 23 October 2007 – 228 days until “EURO 2008” kicks off – Federal Chancellor Gusenbauer and Secretary of State for Sport Lopatka summarised the interim results of the federal government’s activities to prepare for EURO 2008. The measures developed by “2008 – Austria on the ball“ have been launched successfully. To raise the awareness of sport, special measures are taken in the preliminaries of EURO 2008. An important goal is to mobilise young people with school projects like “EURO SCHOOLS 2008“, “KICK CULTURE“ or school balls. The creative products of these initiatives will be presented at various events in the framework of the European Football Championship. ■
Minister for Sport: EU Reform Treaty signals a new era in sport
According to the conclusions of the conference of EU ministers of sport in Lisbon, the importance of sport – recognised in the social and economic areas – will now also be acknowledged at political level. The incorporation of sport in Article 149 of the EU Reform Treaty strengthens sport and was a vital signal that a new era has started in the development of sport at European level. A process of open coordination of national sport policies is crucial for the joint combat against doping, just like the recognition of the autonomy of sport. The sports ministers strongly supported the “White Paper on Sport” submitted by the European Commission. The Portuguese Presidency stressed that for the first time a comprehensive package of analyses of the challenges facing sport in Europe had become available, which also showed how to tackle the problems. The Action Plan “Pierre de Coubertin“ (named after the IOC founder) contains proposals of about 50 concrete actions under the lead of the European Commission. In addition, it sets priorities in sports policies for work at EU level in the next years and pays due regard to the significance of sport for “integration”. ■