LA offices


16th of June


Art, Democracy and Freedom After the Pandemic



Art, Democracy and Freedom After the Pandemic

Participants: Oliver Ressler, Gerhild Steinbuch, Ruth Wodak

Moderator: Robert Misik

Collaborating partner: Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue.





What “the world after Corona” will look like is completely unclear. Some predict the end of neoliberalism, others a dystopia of authoritarian surveillance regimes. De-globalization is recommended just as much as the opposite, namely planetary cooperation. Those who fight for egalitarian societies feel confirmed by what is happening, but so do right-wing movements longing for the nation state. In Hungary, for example, authoritarian nationalism has misused the opportunity to take a few more steps towards de-democratization. Leaders, who stage themselves as “vigorous”, have gained popularity, at least temporarily. In times of fear, dissent has little resonance anyway. And in order to combat the pandemic, there is growing support for measures that would otherwise be difficult to enforce. Protective, authoritarian states like China with modern tracking systems that monitor citizens are even presented as worth copying.

How can it be prevented, that an authoritarian capitalism becomes the winner of the crisis? Can a progressive agenda that includes redistribution and expansion of welfare states succeed, considering that the value of good public infrastructure is again generally recognized, an infrastructure that is removed from the market?

What role can art and culture play in these discussions? And how do cultural practitioners currently act on a global level in the struggle for more democracy and freedom of expression?


The debate is being held in collaboration between SOHO in Ottakring and the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue.


Oliver Ressler, *in Knittelfeld, Austria, lives and works in Vienna. From 1989 – 1995 he studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and works as an artist and filmmaker with installations, projects in public space and films on topics such as economy, democracy, global warming, forms of resistance and social alternatives. Over the years he has worked with the artists Zanny Begg (Sydney), Ines Doujak (Vienna), Martin Krenn (Vienna), Carlos Motta (New York), Gregory Sholette (New York), David Thorne (Los Angeles) and the political scientist Dario Azzellini (Berlin/New York).



Gerhild Steinbuch is a dramaturg and active member of the association DIE VIELEN. The association DIE VIELEN promotes art across genres as a pioneer of an equal and open society.




Ruth Wodak, *in London, is an Austrian linguist and former professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna and Lancaster University. Wodak is one of the most exposed representatives of critical discourse analysis and has worked intensively with research on prejudice.



Robert Misik is a journalist and non-fiction writer. His topics include the critique of capitalism and globalization, Austrian and German daily politics, the history of social democracy and the relationship between consumer culture and the production of goods. Misik is particularly engaged in theoretical and political debates. At the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, he directs the event series ‘Genial dagegen’. He lives and works in Vienna.



© Caterina Krüger