Christoph Schlingensief: Foreigners out


Conceptualized by Kathrin Rhomberg, the project Christoph Schlingensief: Foreigners out presents the documentary film of Christoph Schlingensief´s intervention into the public life, Ausländer raus—Bitte liebt Österreich, 2000 (Foreigners out—Please love Austria) by Paul Poet. It is accompanied by a discussion with Kathrin Rhomberg and theater critic Andrea Tompa, moderated by Dóra Hegyi, on how Schlingensief operated in the art world and within the context of film, how he used other media, and the way in which his work occupied public space—all in order not only to address but to influence social issues and matters of political relevance.

With Foreigners out—Please love Austria Christoph Schlingensief radicalized the diagnosis of the current democratic constitution of our society. Imitating the format of the Big Brother show, Schlingensief “introduced twelve asylum seekers, who spent one week in a shipping container in the center of Vienna, next to the opera house. Blue flags representing Austria’s far-right populist FPÖ party were hoisted above the container.” As onlookers applauded ambiguously, “a sign bearing the slogan ‘Ausländer raus’ (Foreigners out) was unveiled and then attached to the container together with the logo of the Kronenzeitung, Austrian’s biggest-selling tabloid newspaper. The asylum-seekers were documented live—twenty-four hours a day for six days—on TV and the Internet. The audience was asked to phone in and vote ‘out’ the person they liked the least. That individual was then deported to their native country.”

Schlingensief created a kind of hyper-reality, in which the neoliberal “Western society” and its cynicisms mirrored itself. “In this kind of ‘pardoxical space’ clear borders and appreciation were abolished and contradictions were integrated.” Spectators transformed into actors, facts into fake, revolutionary attempts into contra-revolutionary attitudes, left into right ideas and vice versa. Schlingensief reflected with Foreigners out—Please love Austria not only the common disorientation and reluctance to take a stand, but also the manipulability of the public and the culture of resentment in which xenophobia and racism were rampant.

Christoph Schlingensief (1960-2010), German filmmaker, stage director, artist, activist and author.
Kathrin Rhomberg is an independent curator and also chairwoman of the board of “Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation”.
Andrea Tompa, writer, theater critic, contributor to the journal Színház [Theater], and adjunct professor at the Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj.

The event takes place on 25 April, from 5 to 11 pm, at space in Budapest.

Image: Christoph Schlingensief, Ausländer raus—Bitte liebt Österreich, 2000
photo: Johann Klinger