Grand Opening Ceremony for the Circus of Knowledge and the Ars Electronica Festival

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen was present at yesterday’s opening ceremony for the Ars Electronica Festival.

Impressions from the Grand Opening of the 2021 Ars Electronics Festival
Impressions from the Grand Opening of the 2021 Ars Electronics Festival

This year’s festival officially opened and included the inauguration for the new "Circus of Knowledge," a new future-oriented venue at Johannes Kepler University Linz. During his opening remarks, President Alexander Van der Bellen underscored that for the past 42 years, the Ars Electronica Festival has been envisioning the possibilities without knowing what would actually one day become a reality. This year's Ars Electronica Festival will once again focus on the "adventures of what is possible" and are guaranteed to inspire, captivate, and engage numerous visitors.

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas and Gerfried Stocker (artistic director and managing director of Ars Electronica) moderated the evening’s events, that not only provided unique insight into this year's festival under the motto "A New Digital Deal", but also welcomed some 80 students in attendance at the first ever international Festival University program – an additional joint project between the JKU and the Ars Electronica.

The opening ceremony took place at the newly renovated Schlosshof at the JKU, now home to the new "Circus of Knowledge" venue since the summer:

Rector Meinhard Lukas remarked: "The new 'Circus of Knowledge' at the JKU will be a place of wonder and inquisitiveness; a place where children can become more familiar with the university as a scientific arena. It will be a playground of surprise and discovery where things smoke, hiss, whistle and where there are new smells; where Punch & Judy, clowns, acrobats, scientists, artists and actors share what they know. Much like the Ars Electronica Festival, the Circus of Knowledge will serve as a stage for the future, fusing art and science. I couldn't imagine a better setting for the opening ceremony."

One of the many artistic highlights included "Naked Lunch" frontman Oliver Welter and accomplished pianist Clara Frühstück performing a splendid and contemporary rendition of Schubert's "Winterreise", accompanied with the visualizations by Cori O'Lan. Welter and Frühstück’s idiosyncratic cover version premiered on stage at Vienna's Akademietheater on June 11, 2021, and delighted yesterday’s audience as well.