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In the first week of March 2020, the Elevate Festival once again invites audiences to be inspired for five days and to broaden their consciousness regarding the festival's theme "Human Nature" - and of course to experience lots of exciting new music and art. New venues will be presented and many international thinkers and musicians will be introducing their ideas, artworks and sounds in Graz.

"We need a new policy, we need a new economy, and we need a new way of thinking."

With this one sentence, a young activist sums up probably the greatest human challenge for the next few years. A fundamental change in thinking, as Greta Thunberg and millions of young people around the world are demanding, also raises the central question of the relationship between humans, nature and technological development. But is the climate really mankind's greatest challenge? Or is it not rather man himself?

From philosophy to biology, from physics to psychology, from activism and art to artificial intelligence and the search for spiritual meaning: the festival spans a broad spectrum that manifests itself in a variety of artistic debates on the theme of "Human Nature".

Discourse programme 2020 - First key themes and confirmed guests

In 2020 Elevate will once again be presenting a diverse mix of lectures, panel discussions, workshops and documentaries on socio-politically important discourses. The focus will be on different aspects that lead the abstract whole into the tangible: from the question of "human nature" itself to an examination of the status quo of nature in the context of the climate crisis, the role of technologies and artificial intelligence as well as the central question of man himself, his search for meaning and the undisputed destructive tendency towards the planet on which we live.

For thousands of years people have been trying to control nature. It can be completely understood, explained and thus shaped, according to the scientific credo of the Enlightenment. By reducing everything to the countable and measurable, however, the living is increasingly out of sight. Escalating global warming, still fired by governments and corporations despite decades of warnings from science, makes ever larger parts of the planet uninhabitable for humans. We cannot meet these challenges without a paradigm shift. But how can this be achieved? Technological innovation? A return to indigenous ways of life and the expansion of consciousness through spiritual experiences? Becoming one with nature through psychedelic substances? Or is it in the "nature of man" to decimate oneself and other species from time to time?

These and many other questions, solutions and options for action will be discussed with more than 50 international guests and, of course, the audience at the festival.

The following international guests have already been confirmed:


Vincent Moon is a French director of music videos and documentaries. He specializes mainly in music videos. Moon also made films for R.E.M. afterwards, Tom Jones, Bloc Party, Seasick Steve, Fleet Foxes, The Wombats, dEUS, An Pierle, Bon Iver, Black Lips, Yeasayer, Liars, Arcade Fire, Efterklang, Mogwai, O'Death, The Ex, De Kift, Stephen Malkmus, Scout Niblett, Caribou, Vic Chesnutt, Architecture in Helsinki, The National, The Young Gods, The Shins, Andrew Bird, The Kooks, Okkervil River, Xiu Xiu, Sufjan Stevens and Beirut. In 2006 Moon started The Take-Away Shows, a series of music videos.

Ariadne von Schirach is a German author and philosopher. She studied philosophy, psychology and sociology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, from 2000 at the Freie Universität Berlin and at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She is a lecturer in General Studies at the Berlin University of the Arts, at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts and at the Danube University Krems.


Moon Ribas is a Catalan avant-garde artist and cyborg activist who is best known for the development of the Seismic Sense, an online seismic sensor implanted in her feet that allowed her to perceive earthquakes occurring all over the planet through real-time vibrations. She is the co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation.

Wolf Böwig studied mathematics and philosophy before turning professionally to photography in 1988. He has worked for leading European magazines and newspapers in East Timor, Burma, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, DR Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Namibia, South Africa, Cuba and the Balkans, photographing more than forty wars and conflicts. His reportages have received numerous awards, and in 2007 he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize together with Pedro Rosa Mendes. Wolf Böwig is working on three long-term projects in Africa, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.

Michel Bauwens from Belgium is the founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives and collaborates with a global group of researchers working on research into peer production, governance and property. He is a founding member of the Commons Strategies Group, with Silke Helfrich and David Bollier, who organize major global conferences on the Commons and their economy.

Music programme 2020: First confirmed acts

The first confirmed acts represent a global spectrum of contemporary electronic music, ranging from legends to newcomers and focusing on the political dimension of club music.

The club prgramme starts on Friday at the Orpheum with two international music pioneers. Both are active as radio producers, both are celebrated DJs. With the radio show "World Wide", Gilles Peterson, one of the festival's headliners this year, has become a cult among lovers of acid jazz, funk, soul, world music and fusion. His insatiable curiosity and the desire to discover beyond geographical borders have earned him the reputation of a DJ style icon. For the past three decades, he has been thrilling audiences with his incomparable funky sound, which brings together tracks from all over the world.

Another obsessive collector is Sir David Rodigan, who owns the world's largest archive of reggae dubplates. Rodigan first appeared as a radio maker before he travelled the globe as a DJ and MC. For forty years he has been burning for Jamaica's sound, addicted to reggae and bringing his enthusiasm and passion to the stage. His sets go through the history of this genre and are at the same time a journey through the dub-influenced sound universe. Rodigan draws a bow to dubstep and jungle and makes it clear that reggae is a transnational phenomenon.

Friday evening at the Orpheum is presented by Red Bull.


The South African Gqom Sound, which started as a movement in the 2010s in Durban, a township in South Africa, also works across all national borders. DJ Lag, self-proclaimed Gqom King and freshly nominated Grammy candidate, was there from the beginning. Gqom is being traded as a response to the Chicago footwork genre. Raw, polyrhythmic beats carry the tracks. The fast, hypnotic snares and heavy basses come from cheap drummachines and are combined with tight vocal snippets that cheer the crowd on. DJ Lag sees himself as an ambassador of this energetic genre and carries the sound to festival stages all over the world.

Canadian singer and musician Jessy Lanza is known for her futuristic, airy sound that oscillates between minimalist synth pop and playful avant-garde R'n'B. Her sugar-sweet voice, partly abstracted with autotune and much delay, sounds so silky that the Guardian has praised her as "the latest and possibly greatest of the new ethereal soul girls". Her collaboration with footwork producers like DJ Spinn and her releases on Hyperdub underline the cross-genre quality of her music.

On Friday the French DJ and producer Bambounou will provide dance bars in the tunnel. Inspired by sci-fi narratives, he creates a unique mix of different bass music genres, intertwining footwork, trap and techno while playing with fleeting atmospheres. His minimal sound is timeless, extraplanetary and hypnotic. The sets by DJ and producer Daniel Avery also have the unreal touch of science fiction. At the latest with his residency at the legendary Club Fabric and after his critically acclaimed releases, Avery is considered a shooting star of the London club scene. His spherical, cosmically inspired minimal techno sets are futuristic to transcendental and so perfectly tuned that they will maneuver us into a weightless space.

Also from London is Sherelle, who has been considered one of the most virtuoso DJs of the Leftfield bass genres since her legendary Boilerroom set. Sherelle is in love with speed. Her sets resemble a euphoric tour-de-force, in which rabidly fast tracks beyond 160 bpm meet. Sherelle draws connections from juke, footwork and happy hardcore to jungle. The charismatic DJ is at least as much on stage as the crowd on the dancefloor. Witty, shrill and quite nerdy is Ceephax Acid Crew. Behind the synonym is Andy Jenkinson, brother of Squarepusher and master of contemporary acid. Known for his love of analog vintage equipment, the likeable musician, who releases Rephlex and Planet Mu on the style-defining labels, also screws his machines live like mad. Melodic parts sometimes meet drum'n'bass or, more recently, hardtechno rhythm riffs.

Ouri is a producer, DJ and musician. Originally from France, she is currently based in Montreal and releases her experimental pop releases on labels like Ghostly International. As an experienced piano player, harpist and cellist, her focus is on the atmospheric interweaving of melody and bass. She fuses R'n'B vocals, soft synth sounds, trip hop and post-dubstep beats into excitingly fresh tracks.


Creative-Europe Project "Re-Imagine Europe": New cooperations in Graz

One of the central cooperations this year is with IEM, the Institute for Electronic Music in Graz, and the renowned Parisian institution INA GRM. The GRM, the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, was founded in 1958 by Pierre Schaeffer, the founder of Musique Concréte, as a research institution. There, one could experiment for the first time with electro-acoustic sounds and tape recordings. In the 1970s, the composer François Bayle, a member of the GRM, created the Acousmonium, an orchestra of up to 80 loudspeakers. Each of them can be controlled separately. In specially developed compositions, it was now possible to precisely model the sound and distribute and diffuse it throughout the room. The legendary Acousmonium, designed by Bayle, will be specially set up for a special event in the György Ligeti Hall of Graz's Mumuth. Curated by François Bonnet, director of INA GRM, acousmatic compositions and live concerts will be performed on two days by the leading artists of the electronic and electro-acoustic scene, such as Jan Jelinek, Lucy Railton or KTL - the super duo around Sunn O))) guitarist Stephen O'Malley and Editions Mego label boss Peter Rehberg.

Creative Europe project "We Are Europe": c/o pop from Cologne and Nuits Sonores / European Lab from Lyon to visit Graz

In 2020, the pan-European festival cooperation We Are Europe will once again bring major festivals to Elevate in Graz: co-curations with partner festivals from Cologne and Lyon will enrich the programme and attract additional international attention. Both in the field of music and art as well as in discourse, the partners work together on content and will invite outstanding artists and lecturers to Graz.

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