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frei_raum Q21 exhibition space


frei_raum Q21 exhibition space

Q21 Backstage: focussing on socio-critical and socio-political issues, the series "frei_raum Q21 exhibition space" in the exhibition space of the same name in the MuseumsQuartier Wien presents changing group exhibitions conceived by international curators and involving Q21 Artists-in-Residence, among others.

The exhibition series has been organized since 2009 in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and other partners from Austria and abroad in the exhibition space of the same name.

Conversation with Elisabeth Hajek, artistic director of frei_raum Q21 exhibition space, and Oliver Ressler, curator of the current exhibition "Overground Resistance".

What makes frei_raum Q21 exhibition space special?

Elisabeth Hajek: Enriching the artistic and cultural diversity of MQ Wien, frei_raum Q21 exhibition space introduces its visitors to a wide spectrum of socio-politically and socio-critically relevant subjects and perspectives – with free admission. Together with curators, artists and artists-in-residence, we develop exhibition projects and offer discursive formats.

What artistic goal does the exhibition series pursue?

Elisabeth Hajek: The goal is for art to participate, actively and critically, in the great societal challenges and the development processes of its time.

Why did you decide to approach Oliver Ressler for a collaborative project?

Elisabeth Hajek: I have wanted to work with Vienna-based filmmaker, artist, curator and activist Oliver Ressler for a long time. He has been addressing issues like democracy, economy, forms of resistance, societal alternatives and climate change for more than 20 years now. Since 2019, Ressler has been working on the research project ‘Barricading the Ice Sheets’, which examines the climate justice movement, the climate crisis, and its relation to art. It also initiated the joint realisation of the world’s first art exhibition which focuses on climate activism exclusively.

Climate activism and art…?

Oliver Ressler: The exhibition focuses on artists who develop their works in a dialogue with climate justice movements. These artists are taking a central role in the organisation of protest rallies and blockades and develop tactical tools for civil disobedience initiatives, posters and documentary formats.

‘Overground Resistance’ means…

Oliver Ressler: …that climate activism, to a large extent, takes place ‘overground’ (in contrast to partisan resistance, which took place ‘underground’) although, for instance, blockading coal mines or other climate-damaging infrastructure means breaking existing laws.

What do we need to achieve climate justice?

Oliver Ressler: It’s not only about the decarbonisation of the global economy and all spheres of life, but also about financial compensation for the south. While most CO2 emissions are caused by corporations of the global north, the greatest damage caused by extreme meteorological events, such as droughts or floods, affects the south.

frei_raum Q21 exhibition space allows the exhibition ’Overground Resistance‘ to…

Oliver Ressler: …to get in touch with a wide audience and to point out that it is up to each and everyone of us to prevent the destruction of the planet’s natural resources, which only happens because people keep going on with ‘business as usual’.

Image: © Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio

Elisabeth Hajek

Oliver Ressler bei der Besetzung des roten Teppichs bei den Filmfestspielen Venedig, 2019, Foto: Thomas Parb

Tools for Action, Red Line Barricade, COP 21 protest, Paris 2015. Courtesy Tools for Action Foundation; Photo: Artúr van Balen

Overground Resistance

Thru Sun, Nov 21, Tue to Sun 1-4pm, 4:30-8pm, admission free (current access regulations apply)

Thursday Talks in September:

Thu, Sep 9, 18:30: Marco Baravalle
Alter-instituent practices in a neoliberal art world

Thu, Sep 23, 18:30: A4C – Artsforthecommons
Visualizing complexities of the living. Countermapping Mother Earth’s rights


Tiago de Aragao (BRA), Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio (USA), Noel Douglas (GBR), Francisco Huichaqueo (Mapuche Nation/CHL), Gilbert Kills Pretty Enemy III (Hunkpapa Lakota of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe/USA), Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner & Aka Niviâna (MHL/ GRL), Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (FRA), The Natural History Museum (USA), Oliver Ressler (AUT), Rachel Schragis (USA), Seday (FRA), Jonas Staal (NLD), Tools for Action (HUN/NLD)

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