Alternative cultural hotspots
For many years Austria’s capital used to attract visitors with the slogan ‘Vienna is different’. Vienna is in fact very different to what it was in the 1970s. In those days the former imperial capital resembled a faded diva.
Chilling on the canal, rocking in the abattoir or relaxing in Biedermeier style – Vienna has it all
The transformation started in the mid-1970s when the look of the city and its infrastructure were given a complete facelift. The cultural scene was also shaken up and a dynamic alternative culture began to develop.
The exhibition ‘Occupied’ at Wien Museum (until 12 August) offers fascinating insights into an era when the city vibrated with new initiatives. ‘The city belongs to everyone’ was the slogan at the time. People banded together to fight against the demolition of old buildings, exorbitant rents and housing speculation; they occupied houses and created social and cultural spaces.
The self-managed Amerlinghaus in the quaint Spittelberg district was one of the buildings to be occupied. It now houses over thirty initiatives, with readings, multicultural events and discussions on the programme.
Culture and brick
The WUK also has a varied cultural programme in which numerous alternative orientations are involved. In the summer the greened inner courtyard becomes a stage for musicians. Exhibitions, dance events and children’s projects round off the programme. And many people come just to enjoy a beer in the WUK’s pub.
From abattoir to the water
A slightly different atmosphere can be found at the Arena, a former abattoir, which now functions as an alternative cultural centre. Music aficionados will be rewarded for the long journey on the U3 underground line with music by the likes of Patti Smith. The Queen of Punk will be performing there on 28 August.
At the Flex, by contrast, international DJs have the floor. This popular club on the Danube Canal also has its origins in the squatting scene. Although the club has become somewhat more commercialised in the last few years, visitors still enjoy wiling away the time on a hot summer day on the banks of the canal.
This year again the Arena offers one of the best open-air cinemas in the city. What could be better than relaxing on the grass and enjoying a cool beer while watching Russ Meyer’s film classic ‘Faster, Pussy Cat! Kill Kill!’, Nicholas Winding Refn’s ‘Drive’ or Joe Cornish’s ‘Attack the Block’?
The Rosa Lila Villa, set up in the 1980s by committed activists, is the most visible centre for lesbians, gays and transgender persons in the city. In summer the leafy garden of Café Restaurant Willendorf is a popular meeting place.
Cut-ups, cut-ins, cut-outs
William S. Burroughs is one of the major figures of the pop subculture. The ‘Father of the Beat Generation’ influenced musicians as diverse as the Beatles, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. As a writer, the author of ‘Naked Lunch’ often mixed up portions of text using the cut-up technique. Kunsthalle Wien currently has an exhibition in which many of these documents can be seen along with photos, pictures, films, jottings and sound recordings.