Under the heading "Perspectives on Living Together: On Democracy", the Austrian Democracy Lab (ADL) at the University for Continuing Education Krems and the School of Philosophy organized a symposium lasting from 1 - 4 December 2022 together with the Künstlerhaus/Gesellschaft bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler Österreichs and in cooperation with Forum Morgen. With this, the Austrian Democracy Lab project, which has been running for more than five years, was brought to a worthy finish providing philosophical and artistic food for thought.
Right on the opening evening, the subject of democracy was addressed artistically, philosophically and in terms of political science. A short film put the 120 guests in the right mood for the topic ahead of them. In his welcoming speech, Friedrich Faulhammer, Rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems, referred to the Austrian Democracy Lab's role being a seismograph analyzing the state of democracy in Austrian society over a period of five years. At the same time, he stressed how important it is to research into democracy in societal terms. Knut Neumayr, managing director of the Künstlerhaus, welcomed the audience as host, followed by Heinz Palasser, academic director of the School of Philosophy, who shared his thoughts on the necessity of philosophical debate, especially when it comes to a democratic living together.
Christina Hainzl, University for Continuing Edacation Krems, and Katrin Prapotnik, University of Graz, both directors of the Austrian Democracy Lab, and their team consisting of Daniela Ingruber, Sarah Louise Nash, Patricia Oberluggauer, and Isabella Juen, gave a presentation on some of the research results. Over time, for example, effects the Ibiza affair and the pandemic policy have had on the approval of democracy in Austria were clearly discernible. The transdisciplinary approach the University for Continuing Education Krems holds high is particularly evident when it comes to topics such as democracy research, in which not only different disciplines bring their expertise to the table, but so do societal perspectives.
Experiencing democracy with all senses
Christina Hainzl. Julia Bugram and Stefan István Gyalai engaged in a dialogue with the sense of taste with their drawings. Philipp Haug and Monika Polzhofer created the experiencing of diversity and different cultural techniques on a sensory level. The installation "The Unruly Meter" by Anna Paul was dedicated to measuring and approaching, while the Austrian Democracy Lab Fragrance Edition by Studio MUELLER-DIVJAK dealt with the question of the olfactory facets of democracy. “There are additional ways to communicate societal challenges through cultural approaches. Compared to science, art has a decisive advantage: emotions are allowed, perceptions can be sketched, and scientific perspectives can be broadened. This is exactly what challenges our senses," says Christina Hainzl.
The Spectaculum of Young and Wild Philosophy covered the following two days, juxtaposing a wide variety of perspectives on coexistence. There were discussions on the aesthetic sense the public share in the digital age, as well as on the role art and democracy without taking the ballot play. Daniela Ingruber, the presenter of the opening ceremony, addressed the issue of conspiracy legends and the danger they pose to democracy. The last day was dedicated to animated film. International artists' works, curated by Waltraud Grausgruber, were shown in cooperation with Tricky Women/Tricky Realities, thus bringing the opening short film full circle.
About the Austrian Democracy Lab
The aim of the Austrian Democracy Lab (ADL) is to analyze the current state of democracy in Austria and to propose reforms for further development. The Lab employs a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to achieve its goals. The Democracy Radar serves as a key element. This is a survey - conducted every six months - among the population about democracy and politics in Austria.