June 17

Whose Freedom?

Event series

Freedoms and rights—private, social, artistic—have recently come under sometimes subtle, sometimes overt attack. Whose freedoms are they? When is freedom a source of pleasure, when is it an attainment, and in which circumstances can it become a challenge, even a burden? Who has a right to which freedoms, how far do they extend, and which criteria and relations of power determine their distribution?

When the Secession was founded in 1897, the freedom of art was enshrined as its guiding maxim. This fundamental commitment is as vital in 2019 as it was well over a century ago. Inquiring into the coordinates of a contemporary conception of freedom, the series of conversations and lectures Whose Freedom? explores concrete visions of possible futures and asks what can be done today. What is generally accepted as true, politically correct, or acceptable is subject to rapidly shifting public opinions. How and by which yardsticks can we pinpoint a lack of freedom or excessive liberty, who is involved in apportioning or conferring freedom, and which part do artists and art play in this contested field?

The series of conversations and lectures will shed light on these questions from a wide variety of angles, with multifaceted analytical proposals and inspiring ideas from artists and scholars. Thematic foci will include the potentials of autonomy in post-capitalist and digital-era labor relations (Franco Berardi), the spatial dimension of the distribution of property and resources (Danny Dorling), the role of art in the context of neoliberal self-regulation (Gabriele Michalitsch and Georg Seeßlen), and collective approaches to creative and curatorial practice (ruangrupa).

The series will begin with a panel discussion on the conditions of and growing constraints on artistic production in right-wing conservative systems such as Hungary’s, with contributions from Szabolcs KissPál, Katalin Székely, and Katarina Šević.

To kick off the event series, a poster designed by Wolfgang Tillmans that exhorts the public to vote in the upcoming European elections will be available at the Secession; visitors are encouraged to pick up a free copy. The poster is collaboratively produced as part of the project Vote together organized by Between Bridges, the foundation established by Wolfgang Tillmans to promote democracy, international understanding, art, and LGBT rights.


Whose Freedom?
Event series
Conception: Susi Jirkuff in collaboration with members of the Secession
Coordination: Antonia Rahofer
Logo design: Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch



May 13 – 26, 2019:
Posters project Vote together

Monday, June 17, 2019, 7 p.m.
Panel discussion (in English)
Szabolcs KissPál, Katarina Šević and Katalin Székely in conversation with Jade Niklai

Monday, September 16, 2019, 7 p.m.
Lecture and Q&A (in English)
Franco Berardi in conversation with Yvonne Hütter-Almerigi
“Europe at Weimar—End of Human Freedom, Impotence of the Will”

Monday, September 30, 2019, 7 p.m.
Lecture and Q&A (in English)
Danny Dorling in conversation with Gabu Heindl

Monday, October 21, 2019, 7 p.m.
Intervention (in English)

Monday, November 4, 2019, 7 p.m.
Lectures and Q&A (in German)
Gabriele Michalitsch and Georg Seeßlen in conversation with Ruth Sonderegger

Szabolcs KissPál
is an artist and associate professor in the Intermedia Program of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and founder of the Free Artist protest group. He lives in Budapest.

Katarina Šević is an artist and involved in various collaborative projects and a cofounder of the independent art spaces Dinamo and Impex. She lives in Budapest.

Katalin Székely is a curator and member of the curatorial team at OFF-Biennale Budapest and creative program officer at the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, Budapest. She lives in Budapest.

Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” is a writer and media theorist and activist. He founded Radio Alice in Bologna and was a key figure in the Autonomia movement of the 1970s. Most recent publication: The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy (2019).

Danny Dorling is a geographer and professor of geography at the University of Oxford. He cofounded the website www.worldmapper.org, which maps the global distribution of wealth. Publications include The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way We Live (2008) and Bankrupt Britain: An Atlas of Social Change (2011).

ruangrupa, founded in Jakarta in 2000, is an Indonesian artists’ collective. ruangrupa—the name means “space for art”—curated sonsbeek in Arnhem (2016) and will curate documenta 15 in Kassel (2022).

Gabriele Michalitsch is a political scientist and economist at the Universities of Vienna and Klagenfurt. In 2005–05, she chaired the Council of Europe’s expert panel on gender budgeting. Publications include Die neoliberale Domestizierung des Subjekts: Von den Leidenschaften zum Kalkül (2006).

Georg Seeßlen is a writer, journalist, and cultural and film critic and teaches at various universities. Publications include Freiheit und Kontrolle: Die Geschichte des nicht zu Ende befreiten Sklaven (with Markus Metz, 2017).

Vote together is a project encouraging voters to participate in and spread awareness of the European elections in 2019. 420 million eligible voters decide together who should be in Parliament. Vote together is a project by Between Bridges, a foundation for the advancement of democracy, international understanding, the arts, and LGBT rights which was established by Wolfgang Tillmans in 2017.