The foreign has many manifestations. Loneliness is not one of them. For it is only perceived in its interplay with one's own self. No sooner has it been identified by the act of allocation, there follows exclusion. Hand in hand with a moral judgement (the foreign: unknown, frightening, hence to be rejected; the familiar: practised for years, we like it) time and again this gives rise to a spiral of madness that has, in the course of history, led to rejection, ostracism and physical and intellectual persecution.
So the experience of foreignness is often followed by a sense of fear, dissociation becomes a constituent characteristic of how we deal with – ostensibly – unfamiliar manifestations. For ultimately, as psychoanalysis shows us, only what is inherent and innermost in us is foreign to us; the desire to repulse is targeted at the strata of our own self with which we have not come to terms. The function of the foreign is also to give a clear profile to the familiar.
Artists who challenge their own and overall social practice are particularly often faced with rejection, precisely because their work breaks through the predominant consensus of what is considered the norm.
The history of steirischer herbst can be seen in this context. The festival as an indicator of social change and evidence of the discomfort of being confronted with this change year after year. steirischer herbst 2002 sets out - self-reflectively, but by no means self-referentially - consciously to perceive and focus on its own position as a potential foreign body. The aim is to analyse and offer models of dialogue, but not provocation or uncritical affirmation. Understanding - not appropriating - the other becomes a substantial form of an experience of reality characterised by art.