The ENJOY AUSTRIA competition closed on 21 August with close to 35 contributions, just as debates around integration politics in Austria peaked, following Sebastian Kurz’s (Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, ÖVP) announcement of plans to sharpen the current integration law by introducing more restrictive measures and cutting the social benefits of refugees and asylum-seekers in Austria.
The initiators of the ENJOY AUSTRIA award received “odes to Austria” from participants living across the country — from the capital city Vienna to smaller towns such as Markt Hartmanndorf (Styria) or Weyer (Upper Austria). Many people responded to the multilingual open call in their own languages, sending statements in Arabic, Farsi and Russian, as well as German and English. The formats range from DIY videos through songs and music-based works to handwritten poems and visual statements with photos and drawings. They give insight into the diverse situations and experiences of the participants, often articulating the desire for a new home(land) and positively, as well as critically appraising the arrival to Austria, while also talking about the lives they left behind. Current fears and uncertainties are also described, such as a possible deportation to Hungary or still pending asylum processes. The participants’ countries of origin include Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine, Russia, Syria and Somalia.