SOHO in Ottakring is an urban art project and annual/ since 2011 biennial two week spring festival that started 1999 as part of an artist´s initiative in the Brunnen quarter of Ottakring, Vienna´s 16th district. The Brunnen quarter is located close to the Viennese beltway that divides the inner from outer districts and is a densely developed, traditional working class urban area surrounding the Brunnen market, an eight hundred meter long every day street market. This area of approx. 20 ha has around 8000 inhabitants, of which 40% percent have migrant background.
SOHO in Ottakring focuses on aspects such as urban living and development, artistic intervention and interaction in the local environment and public life. A key aspect is the collaboration between national and international artists, cultural workers and with local groups and institutions as well as the pro-active use of public space during the biennial two-week festival in May. The variable fields of interest in this ethnically mixed area created the grounds for artistic work. Socially and politically engaged projects, which concentrate on the specific implications of the neighborhood as prototypical issues concerning society, were especially encouraged.
Socially engaged art outside of the institutions is flexible enough to respond to changing society, to create and make visible all kinds of situations in the urban landscape.
Since 2013, SOHO in Ottakring sets focus on an area predominated by public housing, located at the Western edge of Vienna called Sandleiten, only 17 minutes by tram from city center.
Public housing in ’Red Vienna’
Public housing in Vienna looks back to a long tradition: from 1919 to 1934 more than 60,000 flats equipped with running water, toilets and gas mains were built, creating housing space for approximately 220,000 people. As these large multi-storey blocks with affordable flats managed to stabilize the housing situation of the working class in a fast growing city, the situation today is a mirror of changing society: 2006 public housing was opened to non-EU immigrants who had been residing in Austria for a minimum of 5 years. This step eventually led to prevailing cross-generational mistrust and conflict, i.e. between native Austrians and immigrant families.
SOHO in Ottakring in ‘Sandleiten’
In the European funded international project ‘Culburb – Cultural Acupuncture Treatment for Suburb’, SOHO in Ottakring engaged five ‘acupunctures’ in the area of Sandleiten. Culburb was a first step to explore the area through brief artistic, cross field and interactive interventions and to gain knowledge about the social fabric of the area through responses and opinions from local residents.
2013: Working Conversations
SOHO’s continuity as a “vagabonding institution” and use of temporary spaces as well as partnerships with existing institutions was extended from 2011, the year, in which a program of ‘working conversations‘ had been introduced. Since 2011 the festival takes place on a biennial basis.
2013, a well-attended program took place on the premises of a former bath house, which is part of Sandleitenhof. The topics of five Working Conversations were a reflection on dramatic events in the history of Sandleiten during the interwar period as well as on architecture and the past and present social life. The knowledge of experts from history, sociology, architecture and art would be combined with the knowledge of residents as local experts.
May 17-31, 2014: Festival SOHO in Ottakring
Sandleiten on the Move – 90 year anniversary of Sandleiten
2014 marked a historically distinctive year: 90 years ago, in 1924, began the construction of Sandleitenhof, planned as the largest social housing complex of ‘Red Vienna’. Sandleitenhof symbolizes the utopian housing concept that had been implemented during the short social democratic era of the first Austrian Republic. Only 10 years later, in the year 1934, Sandleitenhof was to be fired at during civil unrests. Nonetheless, the impressive complex is still there in full grandeur ´till present day. As part of an urban ensemble with neighboring Kongresspark and Kongressbad (public bath), Sandleitenhof maintains a lot of its original fascination
In the course of the art festival SOHO in Ottakring 2014, Sandleitenhof, Nietzscheplatz, Kongresspark and Kongressbad would be the venues for a manifold festival program, addressing young and old to join in, get actively involved and to simply enjoy. The program included workshops, exhibitions, theater and performances, film, cuisine and concerts.
During the festival, the emphasis of the projects lay on dealing with living memory and its intertwining with the present as well as on the re-interpretation of public space. In addition, a number of workshops were offered that set focus on working with recycling material using tactile and mechanical skills.
People from the neighborhood who know their craft were invited to pass on their skills: handcraft as a particular knowledge, that was not necessarily trained but could also bear on observation and experience; handcraft as an individual, sensual experience with an object, a certain material, an idea or occasion in a fast moving world of mass production and increasing virtual distractions.
In the 1920s, the idea of combining work, housing and everyday life had already been in people’s minds – SOHO in Ottakring wanted to make this vision come alive!
SOHO in Ottakring 2015
On Everyone´s Lips – 1000 Grams of Thoughts and Actions on the Food Network
‘Nutrition’ and ‘food’ is on everyone’s lips, as essential as it is complex. Food combines tradition and the moment, the personal and the global, the material and the symbolic.
Decisions on issues concerning what we eat are made every day: in thought, while shopping, in a restaurant, on the street, while cooking, when opening the purse or the refrigerator. Every decision on what is eaten and what tastes good or not, stands in a context of ethnic origin, gender, psychology, educational background, social status. And every product available for selection is not only an object, but has its own history and is embedded in a complex referential system. From its creation to sale it goes through many invisible hands and is often transported through countless landscapes. All that we select relates to the world: to the creatures that are eaten, and to all who brought food from the soil to the plate.
We cannot give enough thought to these processes. Today, the mechanisms and entanglements of the global food network are spun like a huge web, and its complexity is seldom visible.
SOHO in Ottakring 2015 will prepare ‘1000 grams of thoughts and spicy actions’ on the topic of nutrition.
…because more knowledge of the every day in relation to the complex global interdependencies can promote empathy, a concern for food and environmental issues, and a political attitude.
Program SOHO in Ottakring 2015
- From March till June four artistically staged Working Conversations will take place at four different locations in Vienna. The talks will set focus on working conditions in agricultural production, ethical issues in the field of animal breeding and the future of a growing city like Vienna.
- On six public occasions, soup will be sipped and talked about at the SOHO headquarter, located at Rosa-Luxembourg-Gasse 9 in Sandleitenhof, Ottakring. In addition, a journey around the world will be offered at each event: in collaboration with ‘Ethnocineca – Ethnographic and Documentary Filmfest Vienna’, international documentary films will be shown on the topic of food and nutrition – what is generated and what is left.
- In the month of October, an art exhibition titled 9.000 km Morsels will take place in Sandleitenhof. The exhibition will visualize themes in context with the knowledge that has traveled from one continent to the other during the times of colonization. The exhibition will focus on vegetables such as potatoes and corn that originate from Peru. The exhibition will be the result of a collaborative process between the artists Carla Bobadilla (Vienna), Emilio Santistaban (Lima), and Hansel Sato (Vienna).
On Everyone´s Lips will also be the main theme during the two-week festival SOHO in Ottakring, which will take place in the month of June 2016.