Austrian Culture In London

In News by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

A series of exciting free events, including concerts, art exhibitions, film festivals, and literature showcases, will take place across various venues in London between 17th and 19th June.

The contemporary cultural events all form part of an Open Weekend organised by the Austrian Cultural Forum (ACF) in London, which celebrates sixty years since it opened its doors in 1956.

The music programme will feature a series of original compositions, conceived and performed especially for the Open Weekend. An electrifying concert by Manu Delago, the world’s leading player of the percussive instrument Hang will be topping the weekend bill. Delago, who has toured with Björk, The Cinematic Orchestra and Joss Stone, will present a new composition performed together with progressive choir Musarc. Three of the most successful contemporary London-based Austrian musicians, drummer Aram Zarikian, pianist Daniel Rico and singer Robert Rotifer, have come together for a one-off performance for the Open Weekend entitled Rutland Reverb. They will be joined onstage by Ninja Tune’s experimental Southeast London singer Andreya Triana. A classical concert will present a compelling selection of music by émigré composers. Over 30,000 Austrians, most of whom were Jewish, fled the Nazis and came to London during WWII, settling primarily in Hampstead, where a Viennese café culture existed for many years.

The ACF has commissioned eight artists to produce imaginative works for the Open Weekend, celebrating young artists and the organisation’s invaluable contribution to the Austrian and UK art scenes. Each artist has been invited to explore a different aspect of the ACF – the space, building, programme, history and team – through their work. Lena Lapschina has colourfully adorned the walls of the ACF building in Knightsbridge with unique duct tape murals, while experimental artist Vesta Kroese has worked with staff to test the limits of portraiture. Sculptural artist Maruša Sagadin will be installing artwork on the front and back facades of ACF – playing with the building’s stunning architecture. ACF visitors will also be able to catch the tail end of Sagadin’s exhibition at Hackney’s SPACE studios, developed to reflect on urban life in East London, and the commercialisation of urban space. Other highlights include work by London-based artist Marlene Haring, photographer Edith Payer and the artist duo Oellinger/Rainer. The exhibition is curated by Austrian art consultancy section.a and will be accompanied by a special issue of the contemporary art magazine PARABOL.

True to the ACF’s tradition for curating imaginative, interactive and performative readings, literary curator and Translator in Residence Jen Calleja will invite authors from the UK and Austria to explore the ACF premises, taking visitors on a literary journey. Calleja has commissioned new work from a group of dynamic Austrian and British creative practitioners who work across the disciplines of writing, translation, art and music. The artists will perform texts inspired by ACF contributors, events and exhibitions from the last 60 years. Notable participants include among others, literary artist Esther Strauß, who specialises in connecting text and performance and experimental musician Erica Jarnes, who meddles songs, stories, treasure hunts and sketches. Throughout the Open Weekend, the ACF will be hosting a pop-up Viennese café run by the incredibly delicious Viennese Guerilla Bakery at their Knightsbridge hub.

In partnership with Regent Street Cinema, the ACF London presents an Austrian Film Season, showcasing the fascinating journey of Austrian cinema throughout the last six decades.

Manu Delago, artist, said: “I’m really thankful for the generous support and it is a pleasure to be commissioned to write a piece for the ACF’s 60th Anniversary. I’ve been living in London for nine years and almost since the beginning of that time I’ve been collaborating with the ACF. In the first stages they helped with financial support, to make UK concerts with my duo ‘Living Room’ and my band ‘Manu Delago Handmade’ possible. Later, I also curated a series called ‘Collaborations Festival’ for which I invited Austrian artists to perform their own music, but also collaborate with me and UK based musicians. My band members have also made plenty of use of the accommodation facilities in the ACF.”

Daniel Rico, musician and pedagogue, said: “It’s an honour to be part of this project. I’m very pleased to be working with Aram Zarikian and Robert Rotifer, two beautiful minds. The ACF’s support has been limitless all along. They’re just great people there”.

Jen Calleja, ACF literature curator, said: “Curating literary events for the ACF London over the last nearly eighteen months has been a wonderful opportunity to challenge and stretch the possibilities of readings and translation-focused events and bring whole new audiences to Austrian literature. I’m honoured and ecstatic to be able to help celebrate their 60th anniversary through newly commissioned pieces and performances.”

The festival programme is supported by The Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria (BKA).

All events are free to attend with the exception of film screenings. To register or purchase tickets please visit: