Nederlands? About In progress Realized Not realized Residencies Lectures Publications Resume Contact Press
☰ Edwin Stolk

Conversation Pieces
Supergau Festival - 26/5 until 4/6 2023

As an artist I am interested in social themes. In Lungau I focus on the 'rural flight'. That's what it's called when young people exchange the countryside for the big city. This beautiful region in Austria has a rich cultural past but how about its future? During the upcoming Supergau Festival, I initiate site specific 'Conversation Pieces' to imagine and debate the future.

Below is a mind map of my research.

In an early stage of my exploration I became fascinated by the phenomenon of 'rural flight'. Young people move to cities like Salzburg, Wien or Graz to study and often do not return. Due to the lack of efficient public transport, moving is the only option for these youngsters. As a result, local amenities come under pressure. This rural brain drain is a worldwide problem, related to globalization and the competition for talent. Can Lungau still turn the tide?

"The most powerful engine for change is the evocation of desire for change. Imagination is essential to this. It is not the world that determines who we are, but the other way round - we shape the world with our stories."
Floris Alkemade.

In 2022/23, I stayed in Lungau several times. I corresponded with youngsters and exchanged views on location about the possible causes of this flight towards the city. Although the main emphasis in this area is on tourism, agriculture and forestry, career opportunities for educated women are particularly lacking. Visually, this region exudes a rich cultural past, but what does its future really look like?

Lungauer BurgermeisterInnen 2030

"The places that will be most able to absorb new energies will be those that are both open to diversity and also capable of internalizing the externalities that the creative economy gives rise to."
The flight of the creative class by Richard Florida.

From a brain drain to a brain gain? I am convinced that art can lead to new perspectives. This is why I developed in dialogue with different people in Lungau these site-specific 'Conversation Pieces'. We can use these examples to imagine and discuss a future during the Supergau Festival, from 26 May to 4 June 2023.

'Lungauer Bürgermeister*innen 2030'

In the study 'Land without daughters' by Isabel Stumfol (spatial planner), I read that land flight is predominantly female. Rural areas lack jobs for these highly educated women. The research also points out that many mayors are male. In Lungau's 15 municipalities, there is only one female mayor. This raises the question of how the women's interests are being represented? A recent study by Plan International shows that girls and young women around the world do not feel represented in politics, they consider the "political arena" as male-dominated.

'St. Leonhard Universität – St. Michael im Lungau 2023 – 2025'

While most young people leave to study in the city, it is interesting to imagene how this migration can be reversed? After all, Sankt Michael im Lungau has all the elements for a good learning environment. Clean air, silence and concentration, space to study and, in addition, new sports facilities are under construction. Imagine if studying in the countryside wins out over the city? Perhaps then, nightlife could also be revived here.

'Bahnhof Zederhaus 2023 – 2025'

In Lungau, everyone is dependend on a car for their mobility. If you are too young to drive, or the breadwinner uses the car to go to work, it is difficult to get around in this region. Studying in the city almost always means moving, while Salzburg is just 1 hour away by car. The lack of adequate public transport also deprives tourism of an environmental friendly opportunity for a holiday in Lungau. What does it mean when Zederhaus becomes the green gateway to Lungau with a high-speed train line?

'Tauernbahn Mauterndorf 2030'

"Construction took only 316 days and then 76 kilometres of railway line from Unzmarkt to Mauterndorf, including tunnels and bridges, was completed: on 8 October 1894, the Murtalbahn was officially opened. That pleased the people of Lungau, but they were not entirely satisfied. The rail link only took them to Styria. Plans to connect the Murtalbahn with the Giselabahn to create a link to the capital failed due to lack of money. Even the variant of opening up the Lungau with the Tauernbahn was not heard."
Iris Butscher, Salzburger Nachrichten. [link]

'Conversation Pieces' consists of several components and is made possible by the passionate team of the Supergau Festival 2023 under the direction of Tina Heine, with financial support of Land Salzburg, I want to thank the municipality Tamsweg for their warm welcome and for offering Schloss Kuenburg for our photoshoot, Mayor Manfred Sampl from St. Michael, Mayor Herbert Eßl from Mauterndorf & Mayor Thomas Kößler from Zederhaus thank you for hosting a billboard in your municipality, thank you Theresa Santner, also for organizing the Supergau pop-up kitchen, Doris Berchthaler, Barbara Macheiner, Maria Pfeifenberger and all other participants who made the Lungauer Bürgermeister*innen 2030 poster possible, Nataliya Oberhummer from the Lungauer Frauennetzwerk, Christina Zitz from Akzente, Thomas Frauenschuh from Epamedia, Andreas Allerstorfer from aWs Media Group, Felix Ganzer for drawing and building the billboards, Gerald Bogensperger van Power Page, ÖBB, Club 760, the land owners that give place to the billboards and last but not least my wife and artist Hristina Tasheva for making the Lungauer Bürgermeister*innen 2030 photo, expertise and support.

Cocreation starts with a theme that concerns us. So far, I have met several lovely people who care about the Lungau region and its future. I would like to thank everyone for their participation, trust and for sharing their experiences. I hope this initiative can be an open invitation to stay in touch with each other and work on societal goals.

Please, also read my contributions to the Supergau Magazin! The text 'Conversation Pieces: Let's talk' and 'The Way the Water Flows'.

Best regards, Edwin Stolk.


Land Salzburg

Your (company) name here? Do not hesitate to contact me when you are interested to collaborate!

'Conversation Pieces' was mentioned in the following media: RTS Regional TV Salzburg, Salzburger Nachrichten, Dreh Punkt Kultur, SIM's Kultur.

'Conversation Pieces' follows the concept behind #theorganisation

If you wish to be informed on my future activities please subscribe to my newsletter.

photo | videos | press | supergau | lungau