Extensive reader on steirischer herbst ’18 – Volksfronten forthcoming

22.5.19 – Art and Populism in an Era of Culture Wars

Photo: Clara Wildberger

The Popular Front, the broad anti-fascist coalition of the mid-1930s, was a unique moment of solidarity in European political history. Yet here we controversially use the plural “popular fronts”—thus dispersing and weakening its power. In the German version of the title, Volksfronten, the word Volk stirs up the darkest memories of nationalism and racism. They are not just memories anymore: today nativism seems to be very widely accepted, and identitarianism is found on the right as well as on the left. Adding to the confusion, any new consensus against the rise of nationalism today no longer defines its main enemy as fascism—populism is now the common foe.

What does that mean for contemporary art, which proclaims its solidarity with ninety-nine percent of the oppressed while still clinging to its avant-garde roots? Is the popular always populist? Is populism just a new name for fascism?

Such were the questions central to the 2018 edition of the festival steirischer herbst, entitled Volksfronten for which this book serves as a reader.


Edited by Ekaterina Degot and David Riff with Katalin Erdődi and Dominik Müller

With essays by Ernst Bloch and Hanns Eisler, Anton Jäger, Ishay Landa, Sven Lütticken, Ewa Majewska, Oliver Marchart, Drehli Robnik, Tiago Saraiva, Sylvia Sasse, and Oxana Timofeeva

Published in English in May 2019 by Hatje Cantz, Berlin

Available at bookstores and under info [​at​] steirischerherbst.at.