ENJOY AUSTRIA is an artistic-political project that addresses the hypocrisy of certain discourses on equality by asking: who has the right to enjoy Austria? With this question, it aims to provoke reflection and discussion about privileges, the fundamental right to enjoy and the utilitarian character of integration policies.
The artist Núria Güell and the curator Katalin Erdödi initated the ENJOY AUSTRIA award and competition in July 2016, with an open call in six languages exclusively addressing non-EU citizens seeking political asylum or living as refugees in Austria. The award was an all expenses paid trip across the country, advocating the basic right to enjoy for everyone. In order to participate in the nationwide competition, applicants were asked to create an “Ode to Austria” in free form, as a text, video or audio statement, with the message of their choice.
ENJOY AUSTRIA is a response to the Austrian state's integration policy that calls for “integration through effort” (“Integration durch Leistung”) and prescribes value and orientation courses for people who live as refugees and asylum-seekers in the country, thus creating and reinforcing hierarchies between the residents of Austria. With the ambivalent request for an ode to Austria, the initiators aimed to accentuate and question the one-sided demand for gratefulness, subordination and respect for the host country’s values and culture at play in state policies and often also in the “welcome culture” of civic initiatives.
ENJOY AUSTRIA highlights the nature of the nation-state that makes use of an alleged collective identity to legitimate itself — through its language, flag, national culture and ideology — while suppressing heterogeneity and calling for integration. In our view, the nation-state that pushes for homogeneity and strives to exclude or eliminate the Other, is as such structurally anti-democratic.
Four Austrian nationals were invited as jury to select the winner of the award. The jury members represented different political and ideological approaches to local integration and migration politics, and were asked to reach a consensual decision.
Following the trip of the winner, ENJOY AUSTRIA came to a close with a public discussion and an exhibition to which all participants of the competition were invited, many of whom travelled from across Austria to Vienna for the event. While the discussion focused on the basic right to enjoy and concepts of equality in dialogue with invited activists, thinkers and the audience, the exhibition presented all the “Odes to Austria” we received, as well as a documentation of the jury’s selection process and the winner’s travelogue.
The ENJOY AUSTRIA award and competition was conceived and initiated by Núria Güell and Katalin Erdödi.
A project by ART AT WORK Association.
Supported by SHIFT - Programme for Funding Innovative Art and the City of Vienna.