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One hundred years ago, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the first European country to recognize Islam as an official religion. Muslims have long since become a visible part of today’s population – yet they still predominantly represent “the others”, while Europe itself is on the verge of forfeiting its utopian ideals once and for all. “Rebranding European Muslims” is an international PR project by the Israeli performance and research group Public Movement, who play artistically with the instruments of a political branding campaign and the strategies of mass communication. Instead of giving answers, the project, being ambivalent, provokes different standpoints. Backed up by branding experts and with the aid of strategies deployed in official political campaigns, the project experiments with artistic possibilities of changing public opinion.   The campaign that began in Berlin Biennial continued a big gala event in Graz: a political charity event as much as a theatrical enactment of commitment and conflict. The gala staged a performance of conflict and advocacy and celebrated at the same time Austria’s historic role as Western gateway to the Muslim world. Special guests were the Choir of the Islamic Cultural Center Graz, scholars and diplomats, politicians, strategists, all joining in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the recognition of Islam as an official European religion.  At the heart of the gala, three prestigious branding agencies from Amsterdam, Stockholm and Vienna who presented their creative proposals for the future direction of the Rebranding European Muslims campaign – and the audience itself was asked to decide which one was the most convincing approach. The winning idea was presented in the centre of Graz. The gala was accompanied by traditional Middle Eastern cuisine and closed with a live concert by the internationally acclaimed Islamic punk band The Kominas from Lexington/Massachusetts, performing for the first time in Austria.   Rebranding European Muslims was curated by Florian Malzacher and commissioned by stierscher herbst Festival 2012.  Public Movement was founded in December 2006 by Omer Krieger and Dana Yahalomi, the latter assumed sole leadership in 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.publicmovement.org/

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