steirischer herbst ’20
Paranoia TV

Ekaterina Degot

Festival dates

Curatorial team
Director and Chief Curator
Ekaterina Degot

Deputy Director
Henriette Gallus

Head of Curatorial Affairs
Christoph Platz

Senior Curator
David Riff

Mirela Baciak
Dominik Müller

“This year has been anything but ‘normal’ so far and many people are scared, paranoid even. Fear of a second wave is fostering an aversion to public spaces, filled with the breath of potentially contagious strangers. On a more fundamental level, we fear that we ourselves might be asymptomatically spreading the deadly virus. Such fears will not disappear any time soon. Imagining that life might never return to normal is hard enough on its own, but to look back on this normalcy from our current post-lockdown perspective is nothing short of horrifying. Clearly, the virus is not to blame for xenophobia, racism masked as a hygienic norm, ubiquitous surveillance, or radical inequality. These phenomena were all part of what was considered ‘normal.’ It is this ‘normal’ that brought us the virus. It is this ‘normal’ that we ought to fear.
Rather than suppressing this fear, steirischer herbst engages with it head on by reinventing itself as a media consortium called Paranoia TV: a platform for the uncanny and the unsettling, broadcasting from a dystopian parallel universe, where there is no such thing as reassurance. Social distancing practices are still in place, football games and parties are prohibited, and even the produce in the supermarket has ears. Art is home-delivered, artists have to work from their kitchens, the private sphere has become even more political, and the only way to explore public spaces is by sleepwalking alone. White cubes, expensive shipments, global jet-set travels: might it be that they will not be missed?
From 24 September to 18 October, Paranoia TV airs on a variety of platforms, vehemently fighting off the ‘normal formats,’ and diving headlong into the uncanny valley of lockdown nostalgia.”
Paranoia TV website

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, public space was shifted to the virtual realm in 2020. Despite, or perhaps specifically due to, the extraordinary circumstances, this third chapter fit into the concept of an ongoing, semi-fictitious mirror of society created by Ekaterina Degot and her team. “In harmony with its roots in the avant-garde,” the festival rigorously opened itself up to new formats. In reaction to the fears, psychoses, and uncertainties of its time, steirischer herbst ’20 reinvented itself as the media company Paranoia TV: a channel for the uncanny and the unsettling, broadcast from a dystopian parallel universe.

A virtual avatar of Sigmund Freud provided a first insight into this world. Brought back to life again with the help of deepfake technology as an “expert on paranoia,” the father of psychoanalysis explained what would await visitors on the new platform. Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, the avatar responded to burning issues in interactive “therapy sessions” and discussed the fears and uncertainties of the present time with his patients.

On the opening day, hundreds of monitors distributed around the center of Graz broadcast a prerecorded opening speech by Degot, while she gave a different speech live in front of Orpheum. Grupa Ee created the graphic design with the look of a test pattern. A specially developed app offered around-the-clock access to the universe of Paranoia TV, with videos, audio dramas, series, live talks, and online games, such as Neïl Beloufa’s Screen Talk and Alexandra Pirici and Jonas Lund’s Year 01, in which users, guided by poetic text messages, had to get their bearings in everyday life during a lockdown.

The opening performance, Das Finale (The Final Match) by Janez Janša, was one of the few events that took place in physical space. The fifty-five commissioned works by more than fifty-two producers of art and collectives included: the essayistic documentation Artworks Made at Home by Ahmet Öğüt, in which works of more recent art history produced at home were presented; film productions by Dani Gal, Joanna Rajkowska, and John Smith; and TV series by Liv Schulmann, Lina Majdalanie and Rabih Mroué, and Tamar Guimarães.

Susanne Sachse, Marc Siegel, and Xiu Xiu presented the audio drama inspired by Paul B. Preciado (after Deleuze and Guattari) YOU’RE SO PARANOID, YOU PROBABLY THINK THIS RADIOSHOW IS ABOUT YOU, while Ingo Niermann’s web series Deutsch Süd-Ost (German Southeast) told of a bizarre German enclave settled by a species that feels under threat: “the last white men.” Furthermore, there was a popular photo booth by Akinbode Akinbiyi and art and printed matter by Roee Rosen, Judy Radul, Gelatin, and Studio Asynchrome for visitors to take home with them.

In “Ideas,” the discussion format of Paranoia TV, experts from art, politics, and philosophy, including Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Eva Illouz, Srećko Horvat, Adam Kleinman, Achille Mbembe, Milo Rau, Hito Steyerl, Natascha Strobl, and Yanis Varoufakis debated the current global situation, paranoia, and the virus.

Paranoia TV was supplemented by an extensive parallel program at local institutions, with a conference on utopian thinking at the Forum Stadtpark as well as musikprotokoll, STUBENrein, and Out of Joint as festivals within the festival. The Literature Festival, part of a three-year-long collaboration with the Literaturhaus Graz, took place for the first time in this year.


Paranoia TV


Film premieres

Online games

Radio play and podcast





Out of Joint



Parallel Program

Festival opening

24.09., 20:00
Janez Janša - Das Finale (2020)


Akademie Graz

Am Eisernen Tor

Aussichtsplattform Radetzkybrücke


Dom im Berg

EUROSPAR Sackstraße & SPAR Central Train Station

Feldbach, Graz und Paranoia TV

Forum Stadtpark

Grazer Kunstverein

Helmut List Halle

Literaturhaus Graz

MUMUTH Haus für Musik und Musiktheater der Kunstuniversität Graz (KUG)

Museum der Wahrnehmung MUWA

Oper Graz


Orpheum Extra

Palais Meran

Paranoia TV

Paranoia TV Zentrale

Schlossberghotel – Das Kunsthotel

esc medien kunst labor


steirischer herbst festival gmbh, Paranoia TV Programmzeitschrift steirischerherbst’20 (Graz: 2020)

Ekaterina Degot and David Riff (eds.), There Is No Society? Individuals and Community in Pandemic Times (Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, 2021)

→  Available here

Ekaterina Degot und David Riff (eds.), Paranoia TV: steirischer herbst ’20 (Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, 2021)

→  Available here