Since time immemorial, fests have challenged people to engage in activist experiments or to make artistic statements. Sometimes even a glass of champagne or a forbidden costume, an immersive party sound or a festive production can trigger surprises and even provocations. The fest as an ephemeral event has repeatedly prompted designers from the fields of art, architecture, design, and music, to translate design traditions and art discourse into the excesses of a wild night or into the celebration of a worthy occasion. Conversely, these transient freedoms have stimulated and tested new formats and content. Fests document social urgencies and, in the process, changes—both large and small. The MAK exhibition THE FEST: Between Representation and Revolt brings cultural and social history to life and addresses the significance of design strategies for everyday culture.
Thematically, there are hardly any limits to what can be celebrated: Celebrations are held for religious and political reasons, (wild) artists’ and other festivities sometimes transgress taboos, private celebrations reflect social contexts. Temporally, the exhibition spans an arc from the beginning of the Enlightenment to new festive calendars of a forming working class at the time of industrialization to current festive formats. Whether bold rococo masked balls, festivals of avant-garde from the interwar and post-war periods or forbidden raves: All of them are recalled, discussed, and celebrated with their subversive power in THE FEST.