YEAR: 2016
LOCATION: TBA21, Belvedere and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, AUSTRIA


In the realm of public space, both the rational and emotional are closely intertwined. The so-called refugee crisis in Europe has been instrumentalized by fear of entrepreneurs (politicians, media, etc.) who benefit from the creation of irrational fears among people. The project “Re-Negotiating Politics of Fear in Public Spaces” aims at inviting people of the city to discuss their personal notions of fear and hope for the future in general, with an additional focus on constructions of fear in the context of the rise of right-wing parties in Europe.
The project was initiated by Ruth Mateus-Berr.

The first action in May 2016 took place in a popular Viennese park next to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21).
Historically the fence was “invented” in times of human settlement for defining property and providing protection against enemies. Today a fence serves as a symbol of societal exclusion and metaphor of political strategies against refugee aid. This is visible in the current construction of the 175km long fence along the Hungarian – Serbian border. The rhetoric of “Politics of Fear” is constructing imaginary walls between “us” (the “natives”) and “them” (the “outsiders”). At the same time very real walls are constructed on the borders inside and outside Europe too.
PoF decided to implement a 15m stretch of barbed wire fence to make a clear reference to the newly built borders inside and outside of Europe, and used it as a display mechanism for the collected fears and hopes for Austria and Europe in general; to make the “invisible” walls visible.

More information

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© 2020 Ruth Mateus-Berr