Foreigners Out! Schlingensief’s Container, Documentary by Paul Poet, 2002

‘Foreigners Out!’: Screening & Discussion of Christoph Schlingensief’s Happening

Curated by Nora Heidorn as part of Better Together

Enclave Lab, London

11th March 2017

The film ‘Foreigners Out!’ by Paul Poet documents Christoph Schlingensief’s happening PLEASE LOVE AUSTRIA – FIRST AUSTRIAN COALITION WEEK in Vienna in 2000. Appropriating the right-wing populist slogan ‘Foreigners Out!’ for his happening, German artist Christoph Schlingensief staged asylum seekers in Big Brother style containers equipped with CCTV in the central public square of Vienna, resulting in outrage on the left and the right. With clear references to reality TV, the Austrian population were asked to vote out inhabitants based on their ‘performances’ in the live broadcast from the containers. Schlingensief stood atop the containers like a circus director, animating protesters and curious onlookers with ambiguous paroles during much of the weeklong happening.

The screening is followed by a discussion about whether this kind of art action would be possible and productive in the current political climate characterised by post-truth, the refugee crisis and the rise of nationalist populism in Europe and the USA. We will analyse the role of the artist as provocateur that Schlingensief inhabits in this project, by turning a public space into a stage for antagonism to unfold. Could his approach be a viable strategy for current art in responding to xenophobia, the refugee crisis and President Trump’s proximity to reality TV?

With thanks to Filmgalerie 451.