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animals like us (who is the walrus?)

lecture | readings | talks | performances | sound
two festival evenings on 30 sept. and 1 oct. 2022
vienna poetry school in association with schauspielhaus wien

event animals like us (who is the walrus?)
/ festival

animals like us (who is the walrus?)

lecture | readings | talks | performances | sound

fri., 30 sept. and sat. 1 oct. 2022

start at 8 p.m.
venue: schauspielhaus, porzellangasse 19, 1090 vienna

"perceiving the world the way animals do could one day change the way we look at our fellow animals forever," writes cognitive biologist angela stöger in her book von singenden mäusen und quietschenden elefanten (about singing mice and squeaking elephants), published in 2021. the expert in bioacoustics and sound communication belongs to a steadily growing group of scientists who are researching 'animal consciousness'. for years now, a veritable flood of books has been devoted to the intelligence, empathy and learning abilities, pain sensitivity and 'emotional balance' of animals and the resulting consequences for us humans. vegetarian and vegan diets have long been considered more of a lifestyle than puritanism, and even convinced meat consumers are now overcome with discomfort when they think of the reprehensible origin of their roast. it is almost as if the question posed by the first animal ethicist, jeremy bentham (1748-1832), no longer even arose today, so clear does the answer seem: "the question is not: can animals think? or: can they speak? but: can they suffer?"

the belief in the supposed uniqueness of our species has been thoroughly eroded in the past decades. whether one is allowed to use, eat or even keep animals as housemates is no longer a private matter, but a political one. the historical moment has not yet arrived to overcome, after nationalism, racism and sexism, the barrier of 'speciesism', which justifies the discrimination of living beings merely on the basis of their species membership. but to put it solemnly: the longing for a new basis in the relationship between nature and its domination by the exploiter man is growing. and with it the desire for a new 'human-animal-relation' free of violence, objectification and captivity. towards an animal right that transcends animal protection like justice transcends compassion.

all this will be up for negotiation  in fiction and non-fiction, in prose and poetry. not forgetting this beautiful opinion: charles darwin found that shameful blushing was the most human of all expressions.

and: 'i saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by cat videos ...'

curated by fritz ostermayer (artistic director of the vienna poetry school / sfd)


fri., 30 sept., 8 p.m.

welcome: tomas schweigen (schauspielhaus wien)

opening: fritz ostermayer (sfd)

johannes ullmaier (mainz). introductory lecture
whether it's about sumerian fables as the origin of all animal stories or about moral animal protection versus political animal rights, whether it's about a new 'theory of ontogenesis' or untranslatable languages of animals  our long-time discursive opener johannes ullmaier, literary scholar in mainz, will again this year span a sensually cognitive arc between the humanities and the natural sciences. at least, however, thanks to a study by the primatologist sasha winkler and the communication researcher greg bryant, we know that there are  so far  65 laughing animal species. how many of them are also ticklish is not yet known.

nell zink (bad belzig) and klaus nüchtern (vienna). delir about birds or ornithomania considered as beautiful art.
these two have found each other: an author and a literary critic who would rather talk about the glamour and misery of the bird world than about the curse and blessing of poetry. in spring, nell zink led the first birdwatching class at sfd with the enchanting title "aesthetics of birds. who, if i wrote, would hear me from the tit orders"? every student of zink received a non-fiction book with the no less enchanting title liebeslust und ehefrust der vögel (birds' love and marital frustration) as field pack. bird lover nüchtern will therefore be able to draw from the full and perhaps also reveal which other creatures zink reviewed in her legendary fanzine animal review (fanzine for the herbivorous youth). we only know about the mongoose: "mongooses resemble river otters, only without the rivers. once at noon and once at sunset, they cavort on the back lawn of the apartment building in haifa where you visit avner shats. seen from the fourth floor, looking straight down, they run and play in long, winding s-curves. they are more or less shaped like snails, with thick tails and blunt heads. if you try to throw them food, the wind blows it onto the ground floor neighbours' laundry and into their windows, so it is currently unknown how mongooses react to gifts of food."

favourite goat videos from the collection of clemens setz

teresa präauer (vienna). reading.
is it possible to describe the animalisation of homo sapiens on the basis of art, literature, film and fashion without immediately staging a metaphor circus? and what does that even mean: the imbrutement of the human being? when soon the cyborg could be our closest relative. teresa präauer has been roaming the drifts and outposts of human dissolution not only since her celebrated essay/poetry hybrid tier werden (becoming an animal). in her 2016 novel oh schimmi, a male teenager makes such an ass of himself that the boundaries of genre dissolve, at least in the laughably sad monologue of this "primate without characteristics" (matthias friedrich). of course, also in präauer's rousing flow of associations, which as a controlled stream of consciousness presumably knows exactly where it should end: in a fantastic primordial soup, in which hair and fur, horn skin and scales, armature and costume as artificial additions invite us to play like the letters in the alphabet soup. no author has traced the development of animals as an artistic discipline with more relish. and this in a writing act of "wild thinking" that would probably have pleased claude lévi-strauss, the inventor of the term.

deb olin unferth (austin/texas). reading with interspersed questions.
as far as we know, there is still no dissertation on the chicken in occidental literature, but if there were, it would not be without a thorough analysis of the novel barn 8, whose german translation is interestingly titled happy green family. it is  without spoiler alert  the funniest, but also the most touching chicken novel ever, which is about nothing less than the biggest animal theft in history. under the banner of 'animal liberation' almost 1 million laying hens are to be freed from industrial poultry farming, by about 500 more or less crazy activists with 60 trucks in just one night. it sounds like fitzcarraldo and yet it is far more marx brothers than werner herzog. after reading this terrific novel, you dread every egg dish, but a new, highly emphatic view of the dear fowl makes up for it by far. deb olin unferth's biggest fan, fritz ostermayer, will talk to the author about her enthusiasm for chickens, the sandinistas of nicaragua and creative writing workshops in high security wings of texan prisons. and about the great southern author flannery o'connor, who loved her chickens so much that she knitted them jumpers ... pardon: sleeveless sweaters. because of the wings.

sat., 1 oct., 8 p.m.

jana volkmann (vienna). reading.
the animal in capitalism as an ideology of exploitation of everything and everyone. the writer jana volkmann is interested in the 'working animal' and therefore consistently asks: are animals historical subjects? can they become revolutionary agents? volkmann's new novel der vektor (the vector), to be published in spring 2023, takes a radical position when farm animals are portrayed as workers and working animals as a proletarian class to be redefined. in a merkur article from may 2022, the author writes: "in florida, a law is currently being decided that will grant police dogs who are no longer able to work subsidised visits to the vet  a kind of old-age provision, a pension". very commendable, but it still seems a long way from the retired dog in the pensioner state of florida to the proletarian animal community as a revolutionary potential. what is fixed, however, is: "without the tireless productivity of tracking dogs and brewer's horses, therapy cats and carrier pigeons, humanity would not have arrived where it is today". not to mention horses and dolphins in military service.

judith schalansky feat. bettina hoppe (berlin). performative reading.
a woodstock of animals could be programmed with the series naturkunden (nature studies), published by judith schalansky since 2013 at matthes & seitz. you don't have to be a bibliophile freak to want to own this series about donkeys ("praise of stubbornness"!), sloths ("everything about this animal seems to be a statement"!), pigs (thomas macho!) etc. etc. as a whole: 88 volumes, each more beautiful and more knowledgeable than the next. but the author judith schalansky is also fascinated by 'nature writing', the "literary writing about natural phenomena", whose beginnings she locates in her acceptance speech on the occasion of this year's carl amery award with the late antique scholar kelsos, a belligerent animal lover against christianity and its devastating doctrine, which grants man unlimited dominion over the world. and speaking of speeches - if this excerpt from our email correspondence is not an appetiser, then we don't know what is: "i could imagine giving a speech ... the topic is canaries, it is already about something like the end and/or the salvation of the world, but in the end i would like to transform it into something participatory  together with bettina hoppe, who is travelling with me as a special guest and is a skilled birdcall imitator." yes, that's all we need  a birdcall imitator! by the way, the best voice and sound imitator among the birds themselves is the australian lyrebird male, which in its mating frenzy not only perfectly imitates numerous other birds, but also everything that humans use to make a racket in the woods and meadows: power saws, axes, tractor chugs, motorbikes and even car alarms.  

favourite goat videos from the collection of clemens setz

kalle aldis laar (munich/vienna) "making music with animals". a class presentation.
the sfd sound class of sound artist, composer, radio play author and dj kalle laar had to ask itself the political question about the appropriation character of its work even before it started. could it be an act of cultural (or natural?) appropriation to experiment with animal voices? teacher laar on this: "perhaps at the beginning of song and language was the imitation of animal sounds. doesn't that then also mean that at the beginning of language was deception, the lie? with its call, the deer claims its territory and defines its boundaries. the imitation of this call by man is a pretence of rivalry, the announcement of an invasion of the acoustically claimed space of dominance by a competitor, at any rate not the desire for communication." of course, nothing can come of a joint chorus of animal and man in this way. a pity  but great: because sampling, imitating, interpreting and inventing animal vocalisations can also lead to artistic works that need not hide from the songs of the siamang monkeys, the blues-barking of oswald wiener's sled dogs or even the squeaking of josefine, the singer from the people of the mice.

peter iwaniewicz (vienna) and tex rubinowitz (vienna). a dialogue.
the author, humourist and singer (of a band of mice!) tex rubinowitz not only has the reputation of being an impressive 'horse fly whisperer', he is also considered the first marathon runner to make a fool of himself sweating in the costume of a housefly. around bordeaux. rubinowitz, meanwhile, is highly regarded for his wickedly funny and touching sketches of flightless chickens and ducks as well as volant poultry and rabbits. the animal lover, however, finds his happiness in cruising around with his italian girlfriend, the donkey pauline, and her son werner. in the abruzzi.
dr. peter iwaniewicz is a biologist, head of department at the ministry of climate protection, university lecturer and science journalist. but he became famous for his animal (and human) column in falter, where iwaniewicz and rubinowitz met decades ago. since then he has been involved in numerous conversations about tardigrades, gnu goats and other faunistic oddities  and has often become bogged down in the process. in vienna's inns. but at the schauspielhaus it will have to be about everything: from a for ass to z for zz top!

more details to come.





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vienna poetry school in association with schauspielhaus wien






review: >> sfd hauntings festival 2021