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Festival SOHO in Ottakring


“Wie meinen? Über Meinungsfreiheit und das Ringen um sie”

6th to 20th of June 2020



Theme of the festival

What´s That? On Freedom of Expression and the Struggles Around it

Freedom of expression and assembly are cornerstones of a democracy.

But when voices are heard that are “fed up” with democracy because diversity and freedom of expression of the “wrong” people are annoying, they want to split society and determine who is on the “right” side and in the “right” garb.

Which kind of democracy is meant, when we talk about it? Is it free consumption? Free travel for free citizens? Freedom of art?

One of the most important foundations in a democracy is the freedom of expression and assembly. In Austria, freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution.

It is also an important part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which is stated: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

Free exchange of opinions and thought among citizens can only take place with the support of a critical free media. But what does freedom in the media landscape mean, how is information processed and who can be reached? Is our opinion still free in a world of online media and online networks where algorithms determine which media reaches us directly?

Currently, Democracy is often undermined and interpreted in terms of nation-state interest through tricky manipulation of political demagogues.

Not to lose vigilance requires not only a critical media landscape, but also  confrontation with people who think differently, for example in debates. Why is that important? Listening to, comprehending and debating complex issues is one way to consider multiple perspectives, which are always related to different realities of life.

This keeps democracy vibrant and alive. Without it, voices fall silent or they are being silenced. A fundamental affirmation of diversity and tolerance of those who think differently are lost.

In whatever context people live, a society needs a we-feeling. This sense of being, however, can also be manipulated on an emotional level so that half-truths, misinformation, hate messages are constructed and creepingly accepted. To imagine other worlds and to consider them is just as important as seeing your own interests represented.

A look beyond the national borders helps shape new perspectives. The basic idea of a united Europe of peace and stability must be strengthened especially after the drastic effects of COVID-19 so that the process of dangerous nationalistic interpretations of democracy and the withdrawal of common values of the Human Rights Conventions are not undermined.

Now, who can participate in shaping the future? The answer might be that strong civil participation and democratic awareness be intensified and promoted at all levels, through outreach at the micro level in particular.



Festival SOHO in Ottakring – SOHOnline

Due to the Austrian Federal Government’s COVID 19 Measures Act [1], no public events are allowed to take place in June 2020. This also applies to our festival.

For this reason, the SOHO Festival in Ottakring 2020 will be held in a reduced form as an online festival from June 6th to 20th.
You can find the original (not current) program here: Original Program 2020

Since the immense, also democratic-political effects and unpredictable consequences of COVID-19, it seems to us all the more urgent to make an artistic and discursive contribution on  freedom of expression and the struggles around it, because there are many open questions pending around the state of our democracy.

In autumn 2019, we invited 14 artists – individually or collectively – to create artwork that relates to the theme of our festival to be shown in an exhibition in the old cinema and in the old museum of Sandleitenhof, located in Vienna´s district Ottakring.

Alternatively, the work is now being shown in an online format. A video presentation will be uploaded each festival day according to the program on our website. 



Collaborating partners

An international online conference on the topic of “Concern for Freedom of Expression – in Times of Populism, Pandemism, and Climate Collapse” will take place on June 18 on a zoom-plattform in collaboration with the Institute for Education in the Arts (IKL) at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. The conference will be headed by Elke Krasny and Hansel Sato.

A debate on freedom of expression is also presented online in collaboration with the Bruno- Kreisky-Forum for international dialogue. It will be moderated by Robert Misik.

Other collaborations include videos produced at Sandleitenhof with students of media theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and an interactive performance with students of “Performance and Urban Matters”, also at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.




During the festival, the artist Hans a. Blast will be on site with a wooden sculpture in front of the old cinema at Sandleitenhof and will ask passers-by for their opinions. Results of his project “People´s Voice” will also be shown online.

The musician Joshua Korn asked us to present a living room concert dedicated to Elinor Mora, his long-time and esteemed musical partner who recently had died.


Artists and participants

Hans a. Blast 

Construction Choir Collective with Daniel Aschwanden, Pavel Naydenov, netzzeit and Nava Hemyari

Delphine Hsini Mei, Special Guest aus Taiwan  

Martha-Cecilia Dietrich

Mehmet Emir  

Josh Fur

Lena Rosa Händle 

Robert Misik und Gäste 

Sophie Utikal

Borjana Ventzislavova

Christina Werner

Peruvian artists in collaboration: Imayna Caceres, Eliana Otta, Alfredo Ledesma Quintana and Hansel Sato                                                                                                                           

Elke Krasny, Hansel Sato and students at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna 

Students of “Performance and Urban Matters” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna with the artist Daniel Aschwanden

Students of media theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, headed by Prof. Dr. Gerda Lampalzer-Oppermann

Participants of the art workshop KOMM under artistic direction of Edgar Lliuya and supervision of Renate Bender and Raphaela Voytischek

Members of the creative dance group from the dance studio of “Ich bin O.K ..” under the artistic direction of Edgar Lliuya




Our special thanks go to all artists and participants invited to the festival, who are now presenting their works online.

We also thank those artists and musicians for their contributions, which we unfortunately had to cancel due to the COVID-19 Measures Act.

We would also like to thank our long-standing partner prilfish, because – what is a festival without technical support in the background.

Last but not least, we want to thank our donors, sponsors and partners who support us and make the festival SOHO in Ottakring possible in this special situation.

We hope and wish that the force and severity with which the entire cultural field is confronted will soon be overcome, so that the vivid artistic and cultural landscape of Vienna may bloom again!




We thank our main sponsors:

We thank our media partners & project partners: