Steirische Akademie
1960–95 (part of steirischer herbst 1967–95)

For nearly thirty years, from 1967 to 1995, the Steirische Akademie (Styrian Academy) enriched steirischer herbst with lectures, workshops, and discussions. Initiated in 1960 by the cultural policy maker Hanns Koren, it was the festival’s main discursive event for a long time. With the aid of scholarly approaches, the Steirische Akademie strove to develop an identity that was specific to Styria, to which Koren’s cultural policies of the postwar period contributed decisively. The trigon biennial, established in 1963, was based on the same goal.

Located in the magnificent Schloss Eggenberg, the academy initially seemed to be not so much an instrument for adult education as a conversation between experts within a separate framework. The orientation changed when Kurt Jungwirth as state councilor for culture took it over in 1971. By moving to the university, the Steirische Akademie opened itself up to a student audience, as had been called for in 1968 in the course of smaller protests during the first edition of steirischer herbst. The students happily embraced the range of lectures offered by the academy—with the lecture halls full to bursting point in some years.

In the 1970s, there was a true spirit of optimism in the Steirische Akademie, and it dedicated itself to the relationship between human beings, society, technology, and the environment in numerous workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, and theater performances. In presentations and working groups, attempts were made to actively engage visitors in thinking together about alternative social models and ways of life. With a view to the choice of topics and the presentations, these years undoubtedly mark the highpoint of the Steirische Akademie. Lucius Burkhardt (1973), Ivan Illich (1976, 1977), Friedrich Cramer (1978), Louis le Roy (1978), and Yona Friedman (1978, 1980) were just some of the individuals who came to Graz during this period.

The Steirische Akademie became less relevant in the 1990s when the festival increasingly included symposia organized by independent curators in its program. However, it should not only be remembered as an important initiative of Hanns Koren, who was considered controversial as a cultural policy maker within his own ranks. As the first event whose focus was not on an ostensibly artistic examination of topics, it brought scholarship and theory to steirischer herbst. Discourse—in the form of symposia and talks—has always been part of the festival and comprises a significant part of the program to this day. The interdisciplinary character of steirischer herbst was thus already revealed at an early point in time.

Further Reading

Anja Quickert, “Die Wahrheit ist immer konkret: Diskurs und Partizipation beim steirischen herbst,” in herbstbuch: 1968–2017, ed. Martin Behr et al. (Vienna: Styria, 2017), pp. 344–54.

Alfred Ableitinger and Dieter A. Binder (eds.), Steiermark: Die Überwindung der Peripherie (Vienna: Böhlau, 2002).