The connection between sound and image – it is exactly this area of artistic exploration that has been pulsating within the historic city of Vienna for almost a decade. This active scene oscillates between acoustic and visual interfaces. Right at its center is the visualist and manager of sound:frame festival: Eva Fischer.
While investigating and furthering interdisciplinary discussions and relevant topics within the field, this innovative festival transcends its framework each year with a specific conceptual focus, inviting a range of local and international creatives and thinkers to the city.
Also on the agenda: the examination of the role of a visualist within traditional art contexts, gender relations within the music and arts industries and the fair payment of VJs in the club scene. During our conversation, the Linz native tells us what makes Vienna not only worthwhile for artists but also why it holds such a special place in her heart. Eva also opens up about her ideas, realizations and challenges involved with running the festival, and the importance of luck, talent and endurance.
What brought you to Vienna and why are you still here?
I have lived in Vienna since 2006. Prior to that, I studied art history in Graz and also in Holland for a time. But there was this moment where Graz became too small for me. Sooner or later I was bound to move to Vienna. So, very spontaneously, I decided to relocate and apply for an internship. I got quite a few offers right away which gave me the feeling: “Off we go, Vienna stands ahead of me, wide open!” Upon relocating it didn’t take long for the festival to start. It is a good thing that I stayed here – I wouldn’t want to leave for anything now.
You organize and curate sound:frame festival. Tell us a bit about the concept and the idea behind it.
sound:frame has existed since 2007. The festival interconnects music and sound in the most diverse visual ways: mainly employing visuals and projections, but also graphic design, motion graphics, generative art and mapping. As one of the main features, there is always an exhibition and a discourse programme. The live performances are very important, of course. I couldn’t imagine the festival without them.
How did you get the idea to start the festival on your own?
I became interested in the connection between sound and image during my studies. I had been doing music for a long time myself. I got the idea through a seminar thesis at the university in Graz. Thanks to my internship at ‘Künstlerhaus’ I received the opportunity to curate an exhibition and realize my own ideas. At first it was small-scale, but the festival grew so quickly.
sound:frame unites art and spectacle. Are different contexts like the club and museum able to profit from each other?
We discuss this a lot with artists during sound:frame, and it turns out that these diverse contexts have an overall strong and positive impact on each other. Today, I have the feeling that there are not many artists left not actually active in both worlds. It’s an interplay: the live performance context, like theater or concert, can profit as much from installation or museum-like contexts as the other way around.
Is it a question of economic freedom?
Of course. An artist who doesn’t need to survive in the art market, for example, by having another job, can be more relaxed. You can let off steam creatively and develop and absorb new ideas. With a bigger project, there is also the chance of trying out new technologies that otherwise wouldn’t be possible or financially viable.
The sound:frame at MAK
How has the European VJ-Metropole established itself nowadays?
There have been a few pioneers in Vienna’s art scene, like VALIE EXPORT, Peter Weinbel and the overall environment of the Viennese Actionism. Visualists like Eva Bischof of 4youreye, were active in this scene from an early stage. In comparison to other cities, there are many women in this scene, there is a certain balance of gender. The next generation need role models and this has always been the case here.
How well are you connected as an organizer and artist in Vienna?
I always describe Vienna as my big living room: no matter where you go, you always meet people. I am sure this is the case in other places as well, but I think Vienna has exactly the right size in order to get to know everybody active in the creative scene. The city is extremely interlinked. Most likely that’s one of the reasons why the scene has grown so much in size and is constantly evolving.
Is Austria unique with regards to that?
Austria is still very lucky when it comes to funding. Of course it’s not at all easy here, but we live in a country where much is possible through the support of funding. In our environment, what the Vienna Business Agency does is quite interesting. It works with and is connected to the most diverse fields. In this way, the exchange of knowledge and expertise is provided and new projects are promoted. I find that really important. The agency is fundamental for the sound:frame festival.
On the Way from sound:frame to Eva's Apartment
What does Vienna mean to you personally?
Vienna is where I want to be. The city has everything that I need and like: cultural diversity and contact with other creatives. The plethora of greenery around the city and the opportunities to relax are also wonderful – whether that means biking through “Wienerwald”, or swimming at the “Alte Donau”. The city is the perfect size. It takes just 20 minutes to get anywhere in the city. I moved to the 7th district quite early. In recent years so many restaurants and shops have started to open around here and there is an interesting mix of cafes and bars.
Which bars, restaurants and cafes can we find you at?
What do you show friends in the city?
I must show friends the classics. The city lives off this connection between old and new: Ringstraße, Castle Schönbrunn with its Gloriette and the old Viennese coffee-houses. During summer I show them the Old Danube and during winter the famous christmas markets.
Eva's Apartment in Neubau
Do you have some favorite pieces in your flat?
I love my plant-ladder, which I made myself. Also all the artworks by friends or festival artists are also close to my heart.
What do you think you have needed the most in your role so far: talent, luck, or endurance?
An equal portion of each is needed. I was very lucky, but without endurance it wouldn’t have made a difference. My talent consists of bringing people together and having a feeling for working with the right people. It’s always been very important to me to bring together musicians and visualists. Really exciting collaborations have come into existence from successfully orchestrated synergies.
What is your approach: to think or act first?
Good question. I have to think about that – so clearly think! But it really depends on the situation. When it comes to festival organization, you must think and question first. Acting lies within taking a look at things, being on the go and meeting people – in these situations thinking definitely does not come first. You must really immerse yourself.
What constitutes a successful day?
A day has been successful when you have laughed a lot, experienced something new, or spent your day at a beach or in the mountains. But it doesn’t have to be this specific all the time. Sometimes it’s enough not to do anything – that’s very important to me. To listen to music, sit on the couch by yourself and stare out the window.
What do you currently have playing on your iPod?
Obviously sound:frame artists like Jonwayne, Anushka and Romare. I have to admit I also do the booking of the festival according to my personal music preferences a bit.