Demon Radio

Hilmteichstraße 113
8043 Graz  ♿
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Tue–Sun 11:00–19:00
​(23.9. and 24.9., open until 20:00)
Free admission thanks to AK Steiermark

Up in the hills of Graz, in an otherwise posh neighborhood of villas and university research institutes, lies a derelict call center of a mobile phone provider. Its grid-based modernist architecture and prominent radio tower make it look like a mixture between a listening post operated by a vigilant and secret state service and a broadcasting center or transmission point. We imagine it as the premises of Demon Radio, haunted by one of our characters, the ominous and charismatic Dr. Jazz.

Dr. Jazz, otherwise known as Dietrich Schulz-Köhn (1912–1999), was West German radio’s main jazz expert in the postwar period. He had been a Nazi student activist, but was also a passionate fan and collector of hot jazz and swing, which the party banned after its ascent to power. Without ever challenging other Nazi policies, he continued to champion the prohibited music. In occupied France, he used his position as a Luftwaffe ground officer to socialize with some of the greats of the music scene—some of them Roma, some Black, and some members of the Resistance. After the war, he was able to leverage these and other contacts.

Departing from his story, the key theme of the works assembled here is mixed messages and their transmission—how liberating practices and messages could easily turn into their contrary in the larger frame of repressive politics. Other works further probe the idea of demon possession as it reappears in our time of unbridled military extractivism.