If Julian Assange was last edition’s star guest, this year, things shift from the digital world to the animal realm with Pamela Anderson participating as an animal rights activist. The actress and model, who’s been very vocal these last years, will open the festival at Orpheum. But activism and political discourse don’t end here. Since this year’s theme is Truth (and its siblings), the festival has programmed talks and conferences tackling topics such as fake news, climate change, terrorism, the shredding of files or migration. Journalists, scientists, politicians, academics, artists, and many other experts participating include the likes of Nnimmo Bassey, Wolfgang Bogensberger, Xenia Ermoshina, Mathis Hampel, Barbara Wimmer, Doro Blancke, or Stine Janvin.
Regarding art, Elevate presents “its largest commissioned art piece to date”, as they put it. The duo formed by Christoph Knoth and Konrad Renner have been working on Liquid Truth, a multimedia installation exhibited on the clock tower of Graz (constructed in the 13th century) that “intercepts Twitter hashtags of #fake and #truth in real time”. That way, the sculpture exists only on the internet and changes as quickly as the volatile discourse of what’s true (and what’s not).
The other most important artwork, Human Nature by Jeremy Carne, reflects on “the theme of truth through the gaze of artificial intelligence”, asking questions like, ‘how might a rational mind calculate the essence of human existence?’ The multi-channel audiovisual installation will explore distortion and the role it plays in historical narratives. Other activities programmed for the artistic branch of the festival include performances, installations and artworks involving VR, video games, data exchange, and sound art.
In addition to these, Elevate is known for its rave-like parties. The Austrian youth comes together with those visitors eager to engage in a uniquely fun experience as well as political – in the end, partying however you want freely can be considered a political act, especially in spaces open to any ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The line-up is as wide as the audience, including audio-visual performances like the ones of Robin Fox (who took part in renowned Berlin Atonal festival last year), Kelly Moran, Kode9, or Deena Abdelwahed; metal-oriented bands like Sunn O))), the experimental MC/singer Miss Red, the extremely dark Inou Ki endo, or instrument players, vocalists and sound artists like Bendik Giske, Stine Janvin, or Lotte Anker.