press release

The exhibition "Second World" relates to the notion of multifold worlds, possible, parallel, fictional, desired worlds, worlds different to the one we live in, in which the past might have played out differently and the future is not irrevocably determined by the present. But rather than slipping into a celebration of art as an endangered enclave of imagination and free creativity, "Second World" stays firmly entrenched in realities of the present, which happen to be dominated by debilitating dogma of inevitability. The exhibition starts from the multitude of worlds conjured between unrealized possibilities that haunt the present, and realistic threats that might as well cancel any imaginable future, and at the same time it points to the fact that the one world we live in, whose 'connectivity' and globe-trotting is cynically promoted by the marketing of telecommunication companies, is actually divided and fragmented into multifold worlds, stratified into various levels of exploitation and privilege, and splintered into enclaves of identities.

On the one hand, the exhibition invests in the notion of 'Second World' as a Cold-war geo-political euphemism for a dark abyss between the First and Third World that offered an illusion of the progress that was sooner or later bound to embrace all the people of the world, and on the other it relates to our possibility of imagining the future, future not as something that comes after tomorrow, but invested with struggles fought in the present. The exhibition uses the notion of 2nd World as a cut through the temporal axis, looking into how to rescue some of the vision of emancipation and equality it contained without succumbing to the ideology of progress. We have to accept the fact that we have entered the phase of systemic failure, in which, as Immanuel Wallerstein poignantly puts it, "The outcome may be inherently unpredictable, but the nature of the struggle is clear."

A publication on the "Second World" exhibition, with texts by Darko Suvin, Stephen Wright and WHW, and designed by Dejan Kršić, will be available for download from the steirischer herbst website.

"Second Worlds"—the theme of this year's steirischer herbst festival in Graz / Austria—sets out in search of cultural, social, political and psychological parallel worlds: as conceptual alternatives, models of thought, levers for a change of paradigm that suddenly allow us to see things differently. The other exhibitions, performances, workshops, lectures etc. showing at the festival, created in co-operation with partner institutions, also revolve around the leitmotif of "Second Worlds", considering the topic from different angles and perspectives. An overview of the whole programme can be found at

Curated by What, How & for Whom / WHW

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Second World
steirischer herbst
Kuratoren: WHW  (What, How & for Whom)

Künstler: Jumana Emil Abboud, Yael Bartana, Nemanja Civijanovic, Marcelo Exposito & Veronica Iglesia, Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency  / DAAR , Ruben Grigoryan, Bouchra Khalili , Daniel Knorr, Tom Nicholson, Maha Maamoun, Mona Marzouk, Park Chan-Kyong, Lala Rascic, Marko Tadic