At the End of the Tyrolean Way - re: "Elections are a Con"

"My 'Wahlen sind Betrug' ('Elections are a Con') poster project was selected in November 2011 by a jury using an exemplary open process for the TKI open competition by TKI (Tiroler Kulturinitiativen) on 'No theme'. For the first time in the 10-year history of TKI open, the province of Tyrol (Austria) denied funding for an artistic work selected by a jury of experts.

"Elections are a Con" (Innsbruck version)

"Elections are a Con" (Innsbruck version)

"Elections are a Con" (Tbilisi version)

"Elections are a Con" (Tbilisi version)

In the ensuing media discussion (1), the Tyrolean provincial government unsuccessfully tried to justify its decision that bordered on censorship. The cultural councilor of the provincial government Dr. Palfrader of the People's Party (ÖVP) claimed that the 'Elections are a Con' artistic work is 'factually incorrect' (Tiroler Tageszeitung, 18 January 2012) and 'not experimental' enough (Radio Freirad, 1 February 2012). At the request of the news magazine Profil, Palfrader explained that not everything 'that claimed to be art, can also be funded' (Profil, 23 January 2012).

After the media displayed little enthusiasm for the arguments of the cultural councilor of the provincial government, the ÖVP Tyrol retaliated during Innsbruck?s city council elections by using the party newspaper Tiroler Weg to print in large letters 'Culture is not a self-service store' on an unauthorized reproduction of my poster design. At the very least, they implicitly accused me of the 'misuse' of public funds through the unjustified acquisition of public money. In small text next to my work, they printed a note not clearly explaining the context to the reader and they listed "'spurious' reasons for blocking funding for a project already approved by the jury" (2).

Not only did the provincial government of the Tyrolean People's Party ignore for political reasons a jury's decision, but they even misused my artistic work in the electoral campaign for the Innsbruck city council. This was the final straw, and a lawsuit was filed against the Tyrolean People's Party (ÖVP).

On 16 July 2012, the provincial court in Innsbruck ruled that the Tyrolean People's Party must under a court directive refrain from unauthorized reproductions or modifications of the poster 'Elections are a Con' and must remove, according to their power of disposition, all existing copies of their modification of the artwork 'Elections are a Con'. The accused party (ÖVP) must also retract allegations that I have 'misused' cultural subsidies. In addition, the defendant must expressly state to the plaintiff that the report in Tiroler Weg 1.12 published in the context of the plaintiff-made poster 'Elections are a Con' did not allege a dishonorable or illegal conduct.

The announcement of these obligations in the Tiroler Weg could not be achieved, because the publication has ceased to exist.

Postscript: It seems impossible in the holy land Tyrol to display artistic posters with the text 'Elections are a Con'. This text does not seem to be a problem with a version for a project in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi (see figure below)."

Oliver Ressler, artist and filmmaker, 20 July 2012


(1) For documentation of the media coverage, see:

(2) Complaint filed by my lawyers Ploil | Krepp | Boesch, 9 May 2012


Oliver Ressler Newsletter, July 22, 2012.