The topic of this year’s steirischer herbst touches upon discourses of our today’s lived realities and its connections to the historical times of change just before World War II: under the heading of “Grand Hotel Abyss,“ which was coined in 1933 by the Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukács in the face of a diffuse and ambivalent feeling of accomplished wealth and progress but also the increasing uncertainty, isolation and fear of the emerging dangers of fascism, it examines historical developments to also try and make visible noteworthy links and developments. Lukács’s body of thought influenced numerous thinkers of his time; beside Ágnes Heller, Leo Kofier and Rudi Dutschke especially the work of the Frankfurt School. Nevertheless his works were often severely criticized, primarily regarding the concepts of „dialectics“ and „reification.“ As a critic Theodor W. Adorno opposed Lukács’s Marxist argumentation, but he also demonstrated an interest and a certain continuation of his work. Both share the discursive, public, and occasionally suggestive disputes with contemporary society and politics, and the challenge of their potentials to reach a (supposedly?) better future. Adorno’s pointed statements on music (Schönberg vs. Jazz), popular culture, and the culture industry are also well known. Due to the fact that Georg Lukács deemed the whole German bourgeois philosophy after Hegel reactionary and an irrational answer to the phenomenon of the class war in “The Destruction of Reason,” it serves Adorno right that Seppo Gründler and Robert Lepenik use his texts in a humorous and eclectic way in pop-, rock-, ambient-, and blues-improvisations. Cut up into singable parts, his texts become the material for chorus and verse, which emerge spontaneously out of improvisation. “To me, the Minima Moralia were somewhat of an art of living,” says the founder of Merve publishing house from Frankfurt, Peter Gente, about the vade mecum of the ’68 generation: “Reflections from a damaged life,” which form the textual base of the performance, not least because the famous quote: “There is no right life in the wrong one.” Gründler’s and Lepenik’s long-standing experimental work at the intersection of pop and serious music is in this particular project merrily academic. Two solo entertainers play simultaneously and together: Lepenik, vocals and (pop) accompaniment, Gründler, singing and (rhythmic) accompaniment.
Seppo Gründler (*1956 Klagenfurt, lives in Graz) is a sound and media artist, “tinkerer” of software and electronics. His main instruments are guitar, electronics and software. Gründler is the co-organiser of the Styrian Improvisers Orchestra, holds a PhD in medicine and is visiting professor of sound design at Donau-University Krems and assisting professor at the FH JOANNEUM-university of applied sciences, member of the board of directors of the Institute for Media Archaeology and of the Society for Dissemination and Distribution of New Music.
Robert Lepenik (*1966 Graz, lives in Graz) studied classical guitar at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. In his artistic work he is engaged in improvisation and electronic music. Lepenik is a member of the artist’s collective TONTO and crew8020_music, as well as the band projects, The Striggles, Die Gitarren der Liebe, Melville, LaLeLoo and Fetish 69. Having released twelve albums with original works, he is curator for various film series and writes music for theatre and film.