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WUK, Vienna, Austria | 5-8 May 2016
IT'S (ABOUT) POLITICS | Performing the emancipatory potential of cultural practice
There is widespread unease about a loss of democracy, globalisation and the power of markets, about inequality, eroding solidarity, and the ever-expanding job and living insecurity. This unease affects us – a political response and action are called for.
TEH Meeting 81 at WUK offers room for debate and reflection upon the emancipatory potential and impact of cultural practice. It’s (about) Politics investigates what it means to be “political”: What does it mean for each and every one of us? How do we act? How can we act – as individuals, as collectives, as institutions?
Independent cultural centres have their roots in the political act of appropriating spaces for alternative cultural and social production. Therefore, cultural institutions are also places where civil society acts, where questions of how to take part in the political process are negotiated and lived.
Taking into account these roots, the conference will focus on the self-conception and the role of cultural centres as institutions as well as the importance of art and culture in a political present characterised by the dynamics of inequality.

In four thematic “routes” It’s (about) politics will address a variety of issues, from contemporary political theory to practice-oriented inputs. From the perspectives of politicisation, networking, and building alliances, the possibilities of individual and collective political action will be discussed and interventions will be planned in the framework of workshops, hands-on sessions, and in exchanges of experiences.
Divided into four routes, several lectures and workshops will zoom in on the topic.
1. Scenarios of Democracy
This route introduces strategies, theories and practices of political action in several modules. “Scenarios of Democracy” discuss formations and spaces of resistance and interference.

2. Wake Up
In practice-oriented workshops “Wake Up” focuses on potentials and resources – of the individual, on the one hand, and of the cultural centres as institutions, on the other. What resources are available to us and how can we use them? How do we already use them? At what point and triggered by which impetus do self-empowerment and political action begin? How can we secure their sustainability?

3. Know Your Enemies
In “Know Your Enemies” we will debate the economic background of the present-day situation. What are the effects of twenty-first-century capitalism? What arguments are there to counter the current austerity policies? How can we act out of a situation of scarcity?

4. Art as a Role Model
Through various examples of cultural production we will take a closer look at political action by and through art. This route also discusses the possibilities and limits of political cultural production and introduces cases which are pushing the limits.

Several key notes will present historically developed and contemporary approaches of cultural work to politics.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Sandy Fitzgerald has over thirty years of experience as a manager, artist, and activist in the cultural sector.
  • Gigi Argyropoulou, based in Athens and London, is a researcher, curator, artist, and scholar working in the field of cultural practice and performance.
Thursday May 5: TEH Meeting (details under preparation)

Friday May 6: Conference Day 1, Keynote speeches, Workshops                       
Saturday May 7: Conference Day 2 - Workshops, Panel Discussion      

Sunday May 8: Sunday Outing - Trip to Vienna / surroundings            
Early bird registration is opening on 24 February. You will receive further information soon or you can check for updates about the conference on the TEH 81 Meeting website.
Due to a public holiday in the period May 5-9 Vienna will be crowded with tourists during the meeting days. We recommend that you book a hotel / hostel room / apartment as soon as possible!

There are several options for accommodation at varying distance from the main conference venue, WUK (Währinger Strasse 59, 1090 Vienna). Check the hotel list and its details incl. booking codes to get special TEH rates. You find the hotel list on the Meeting page.

Each hotel offers only a limited number of “TEH special rate” rooms, so be quick to make sure you get the best accommodation option for yourself.

Two different free accommodation options will also be offered (limited numbers of places):
  • “WUK camping” on the WUK premises. Conference participants stay in dormitories (improvised sleeping places without beds, only mattresses). 
  • “WUK home”, - stay at the homes of WUK people.
More information about this will come in January/February.


WUK is an acronym and stands for “Werkstätten- und Kulturhaus”, roughly meaning “House for Workshops and Culture”. The organisational structure of the former locomotive factory comprises of three pillars: Cultural Productions (music, performing arts, children’s culture and arts), Education and Counselling (12 education and counselling institutions) as well as the Socio-Cultural Centre with 150 independent groups and initiatives.

WUK, laid out on 12.000-square-metres, is an open cultural space, a space for the living interaction of art, politics and social issues. It links the overlapping synergetic models of a socio-cultural centre and an international centre of art an culture. As a socio-cultural centre WUK focuses on furthering processes of liberation, independence and help to self-help, district-based cultural work and self government, self-organization and autonomy.

As a centre of art and culture WUK contcentrates on promoting the production and presentation of innovative, experimental, interdisciplinary, critical art and culture at a local, regional and international level. WUK provides a venue as well as organisational support to those interested in art, politics and social engagement. It offers space where one can contemplate, discuss and explore. Read more about WUK


Trans Europe Halles is a European based network of cultural centres initiated by citizens and artists that brings together 59 multidisciplinary cultural centres and 20 associated organisations all around Europe.

As a network, Trans Europe Halles provides a dynamic forum for ideas, experiences and exchange, supporting its members and their communities. Trans Europe Halles facilitates and encourages artistic collaborations throughout Europe.