Letter to The Wire, May 2012

As a resident of Vienna and regular visitor to the Donaufestival, I’d like to comment on Jennifer Lucy Allan’s piece (The Wire 338). Jennifer is spot on regarding the various “madcap art projects” in which the festival specializes, but sadly its music programming has become increasingly uninspired in recent years. Since the high water mark of 2007, which saw an unparalleled gathering of key figures from the industrial underground (Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle and many more), each subsequent year’s line-up has led to feelings of bafflement and even stronger ones of déjà vu. Fans of Cocorosie, Antony, Laurie Anderson and Rhys Chatham will no doubt enjoy this year’s performances by those artists just as much as they did when the same people appeared two or three years ago, while fans of Ben Frost will be wondering why he is absent in 2012 having appeared both last year and the year before. I wouldn’t dispute the Donaufestival’s status as a prime showcase for oddball performance art, but when this year’s headlining acts include names like Hercules & Love Affair and Pantha du Prince (who?), it’s clear that director Tomas Zierhofer-Kin’s contacts book is looking rather thin.