Kunstfest Weimar 2022 "an unqualified success"

Press Release

The 33rd Kunstfest Weimar has been history since last weekend: the 2022 edition comprised approximately 140 events at some 30 different venues in Weimar and throughout Thuringia. Of the 45 projects in the programme, 17 were world or German premieres. According to preliminary returns from the presenters, a total audience of some 26,000 attended Kunstfest – entitled "Yarning for Tomorrow" – between 24 August and 10 September, even though there were around one third fewer performances than the year before. Due to the restrictions on audience numbers at indoor performances in both the previous editions, a greater number of free outdoor projects had been programmed for 2020 und 2021, which meant that total audience numbers declined by 1,000 visitors.  However, the number of tickets sold rose (returning to full seating capacity) by around 25% to 6,650 tickets, which is in keeping with pre-pandemic levels. As a result, Kunstfest Weimar – the only large-scale German summer festival that could be held in fully analogue form in both 2020 and 2021 – has come through the pandemic largely unscathed.

Hits at the '22 festival included the opening production 'The Olive Grove' by the Israeli artist Sigalit Landau and the choreographer Nir de Volff. The two guest dance productions from South Africa choreographed by Gregory Maqoma were widely acclaimed, as was the jazz concert '4 Wheel Drive' with the jazz stars Nils Landgren, Michael Wollny, Lars Danielsson and Wolfgang Haffner. Audiences were also thrilled by the closing concert 'Weimar I Babylon' in co-operation with the Achava Festical and Jazzmeile Thüringen. There was also considerable praise for the exhibition 'Angel of History' by Aura Rosenberg at the Bauhaus Museum Weimar and 'Dirty Talking – Thüringer Verführungen', the performance and exhibition project that toured the whole of Thuringia, featuring – among others – the star actor Dominique Horwitz, described by the Süddeutsche Zeitung as a "devilish fellow".  Every single ticket was sold for the music theatre world premiere 'Welcome to Paradise Lost' by Falk Richter and Jörn Arnecke and for Chris Salter's enhanced reality project 'Animate' in the KET-Halle, with 'Animate' being heralded by the FAZ as a prognosis of "what theatre will be like in ten years' time."

The broad range of further press reaction to Kunstfest Weimar 2022 stretched from Thuringia to the USA and was predominantly on a spectrum between positive and euphoric. The New York Times reported that Kunstfest was "shrewdly curated" and published glowing accounts of Kunstfest projects that included 'Werwolfkommandos' by Marie Schwesinger, the Rosenberg exhibition and the world premiere of Thomas Köck's 'Solastalgia' in co-production with Schauspiel Frankfurt. The Süddeutsche Zeitung praised the "leading playwright" for a "magnificent" text that was "angry, indignant and perhaps more horrified and saddened than ever before." Deutschlandfunk recommended the opera project 'Aria di Potenza' by the young Polish star director Krystian Lada as a "wonderful, absolutely topical and precise evening."  Poland's second-largest daily Rzeszpospolita wrote that "this year's Kunstfest Weimar is an unqualified success." Festival Director Rolf C. Hemke commented: "I think, in artistic terms, we can be more than satisfied with the responses that we have felt from the audiences and from the local, national and international press. Once again Kunstfest has shown that it can present topical, contemporary art with a broad appeal that touches the public across the entire state."

Next year's Kunstfest from 23 August to 10 September will feature themes that include the centenary of the Bauhaus Exhibition in Weimar. It will open with the premiere of Alfred Jarry's 'King Ubu' directed by the US star director Robert Wilson. 

© Thomas Mueller