Linz, a city located in the north of Austria, is a place of new impressions, surprises and experiences. As the third-largest city in Austria, Linz underwent massive and lasting changes, which were recognised in 2009 when it was voted European Capital of Culture. Linz portrays a modern and dynamic image. As a city offering a great deal in terms of industry, technology and culture, its previous role as Culture Capital has enhanced the city’s vibrancy and atmosphere that many travel to experience today.
To be voted Culture Capital, a city needs to show innovative ideas and events that will enrich the place and its people. Loved by the locals and travellers from across the globe for more than 25 years, the city of Linz annually hosts the largest international street art festival in Europe called Pflasterspektakel. The festival presents around 100 professional artist groups and solo performers from more than 40 countries. Over three days, this colourful and unique festival transforms Linz’s city centre where talent, from weird to wonderful, fills every inch of the street.
This year, Pflasterspektakel is taking place from 17-19 July. An array of music, dance, circus acts, fire acrobatics, improvisation theatre, clownery and comedic performance art at the highest level, will take to the wide streets of Linz. Although some of these acts would love to perform to crowds on a huge stage, many performers stick to the motto- “street art belongs to the streets”. The interaction with the audience is essential for this form of art and works in everyone’s favour. The street artists thrive and bounce off the energy the audience give, who feel more involved and participatory.
Each year, the artists that form Pflasterspektakel seem to be more creative and unique than the last. This year, one-of-a-kind acts such as “Dancing Graffiti”, “Highly Flammable” and “The Amazing Mr Fish” contribute. Although the festival is performed on the streets, buskers need to be selected and given permission to perform. The application period for Pflasterspektakel is from December to February, where 100 acts from more than 600 applications are chosen each year.
As much as new international acts are encouraged to take part in the festival, local artists also have the opportunity to get involved. Public space and gallery rooms are offered to local artists and since thousands travel through Linz for Pflasterspektakel, it is a great opportunity to get their work exhibited. Local Austrian bands are also invited to perform in the three day event alongside music, samba and percussion groups from Morocco, Spain, Sweden and many more.
“Art into the city” was Linz’s motto when it received its title as the Culture Capital. This motto was based on the city’s historic and current love affair with street art. In May 2007, an event took place which transformed the city. Over 30 international artists transformed 50 shop windows into artistic objects, where their ideas were showcased to visitors. This unique art show, called “Schaurausch” (a “seeing spree”) aimed to invite passers-by to linger, to be surprised and to think. This is similar to what Pflasterspektakel has done and continues to do every year.
Some see busking as an art less practised today. However the festival of Pflasterspektakel shows it is the opposite. There is something for everyone on the streets of Linz, especially in July. The audience will be captivated by either music, fire, comedy, dance, graffiti or a combination of all. The performers bring energy and enthusiasm to the streets, working all day and late into the night. What Linz does, through Pflasterspektakel, Schaurausch and other events, is incredible; transforming the traveller’s journey into an artistic discovery.
What artwork have you discovered through the streets around the world?