Contemplative guide to Vienna

Exploration workshop with Javier Abarca
4 & 11 August 2018


Find your own way in a quiet stroll through the backstages of the city. Visit ignored spaces free from commerce and control, where there is a possibility for contemplation. Get to know the hidden environments of graffiti writers, furtive street artists and other outcasts. Difficulty level: very easy, no exploring background needed.

Join us at the introductory lecture for some theoretical and visual background exploring psychogeography, the third landscape, and the view of the city as a playground.

Click here for full info about this kind of workshop and photographs of former explorations.

The workshop is part of the program of Calle Libre festival.

The Facebook event is here.


Introductory lecture:
Graffiti and psychogeography, the city as a playground
Saturday 4, 10:30h.
Barocke Suiten, MuseumsQuartier.
Free entrance.
The lecture is open to anyone interested. It is part of a whole day of talks about urban art programmed by Calle Libre.

Contemplative guide to Vienna
Saturday 11, 14-18h.
Location to be announced.
Participating is free but places are limited.
To sign up for the workshop send an email to


About the teacher:
Javier Abarca (ES) is an artist and researcher. He is founder and director of the Unlock Book Fair and the Tag Conference. His teaching, curating and writing have been commissioned by museums and institutions across Europe. He has conducted exploration workshops in Berlin, Barcelona, Cologne, Valencia, Tartu, Besançon, Santander, Castellón and Granada.


Know more about the introductory lecture:

The contemporary culture of graffiti, created in the subways of New York and then spread across the world, may well be the most universal artistic tradition in history, and the one with the biggest presence in people’s lives. However, at the same time, it is largely impenetrable to anyone but its practitioners. When outsiders try to understand graffiti they often approach it as a form of painting. But focusing on the graphic output is misleading.

Graffiti is not simply about the writing, it is about where, when and how it appears. It is not so much about the resulting artwork as it is about the experience leading to and surrounding it. Each written name is merely the residue of a continuous exploration of the city that follows a radically alternative navigational pattern. Graffiti has little in common with studio painting, or even with official mural painting. To really understand what graffiti is about it is more useful to interpret it as a school of urban exploration.

Contemporary graffiti was born as a way to escape the alienation of modernist architecture and capitalist urbanism. It is, first and foremost, a game. It takes a landscape designed to control movements and thoughts, to isolate the individual and to suppress individuality, and subverts it into a vehicle for shared adventure, fantasy and joy. But it is hardly the only contemporary culture that fits this description. There are many others, from parkour to geocaching, from urbex to train surfing, from buildering to flash mobs.

The Situationists predicted a future of urban games they could not describe. In the past decades we have seen their texts about the encroaching spectacle turn into prophecy. And, when looking at the cultures listed above, one could say their ideas about the city as playground were just as prescient.