The Opening Shows of the Annual ‘Life Ball’ in Vienna

    • IMG_8176
    • Presentation speakers
      • Roman Schneeberger, University of Graz, Austria


    The Life Ball at the Viennese City Hall is in many terms the biggest AIDS charity event of the world. Every year in May the ball collects more money for HIV research, health treatments and other AIDS related projects, in 2015 approximately 2,3 million Euros. The number of tickets is limited due to the size of the Vienna City Hall, so the bigger amount of money is gained by sponsoring, which is attracted by media attention, e.g. live broadcasting of the Opening Show via TV and youtube for millions of viewers and media coverage before and after the event. 40.000 spectators on the Square additionally prove the public interest in the therefore necessarily provocative and fantastic Opening Show. One important aspect of AIDS charity events is the influence of homosexuals. That can be explained by the special concern of this group back in the 1980ies. Even though HIV is a threat to people of all sexual orientations in the meantime, the queer touch of such events has grown because of the acceptance of homosexuality in society. Nevertheless the Life Ball has a high percentage of heterosexual guests and therefore a queer identity hovering above certain definitions of sexuality. Emerging from all that the Opening Show has always been an interaction of performances (of renowned artists, many of which popular in the gay scene), dance (classical ballet of the Austrian State Opera), iconological representations (Klimt?s Beethovenfries in 2015, Botticelli and others in previous years), fashion shows (e.g. by Gaultier, Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Cavalli, John Galliano, Diane von Furstenberg) and so forth. This leads to working points of queer artistic research with numerous pictorial examples and the question how much queerness there is in different forms of art represented at the shows discussed.