Michael Fischer symposium 2017
Building bridges between cultures and nations in a new world

6. – 8. October 2017
Musée Regards de Provence
Avenue Vaudoyer, 13002 Marseille

Schirmherrschaft: EU Kommissar Dr. Johannes Hahn
Partner: Universität Salzburg/Universität Mozarteum Salzburg

Board :
Dr. Helga Rabl-Stadler, Präsidentin Salzburger Festspiele
Prof. Dr. Claudio Magris, Schriftsteller, Triest
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, LEICA (EigentümerGEO)

Konzept/Organisation :
Ilse Fischer, Kulturdesign

Inhaltliche Beratung:
Mag. Margarethe Lasinger (Dramaturgin)
Dr. Barbara Cassin (Philosophin, Philologin)
Dr. Stefan Weidner (Journalist, Autor)
Michael Krüger (Verleger, Autor, Übersetzer)
Dr. Hedwig Kainberger (Journalistin)

We will explore a broad range of themes in different panels,
Sea - Mediterranean

Sea – People
Climate change and migration

Sea – Languages
Intercultural communication
Sea – Word (Literature)
Sea – Sound/Music

Account Unit from EU Commissar Johannes Hahn
and discussion with students from the ERASMUS Program of the Universities Aix-Marseille, Toulon and Nice

Looking to the future

Michael Fischer was someone who was always thinking ahead, always eager to try out new ideas and always finding new and exciting topics. And finding interesting people, too, who would join him in discussions of the highest quality and who were also innovative and forward-looking.
He was never still, always in perpetual and creative motion.
Now he can no longer do that, and we see it as our legacy and mission to carry on his work.
In the years to come we will be organising symposiums under the familiar title EUROPA NEU DENKEN (Rethinking Europe) which will ensure not only that his lively spirit and his incredible ability to bring people together will not be lost but that they will generate new momentum, new creative ideas for the future.
The subtitle – Michael Fischer Symposion – makes those who knew him and held him in high esteem very sad, because of course it means that he is no longer with us.
A circle of friends and companions from academic life and the arts will be there by our side, so that we can carry forward 'his' ideas on many fronts. He was so many things in one person – scholar, visionary, facilitator, free thinker, bon vivant – that it now takes an entire team to do his job.
We will give our all so that he can be proud of us.

Ilse Fischer                                               Johannes Hahn


It is a city of rough beauty that resists and rebels. It awakens hope and harbours disappointment. It is a city of comings and goings, of transience and rootedness. It embodies contradiction - the city with the ‘intoxicating cosmopolitan smell’ and ‘chaos of the highest magnitude’, the epitome of ‘purposeless busyness’, as Joseph Roth described it in 1929. ‘Marseille is a world in which the fantastic is commonplace and the commonplace is fantastic. You can be completely baffled by it. Marseilles is the gateway to the world, Marseilles is the threshold of peoples. Marseilles is East and West. The Crusaders sailed to the Holy Land from here. Many a tale from a Thousand and One Nights entered Europe through this port. Oriental themes arrived here, found fertile ground, and nurtured European literature and art. ...Marseilles is New York and Singapore, Hamburg and Kolkata, Alexandria and Port Arthur, San Francisco and Odessa.’ - This is as true today as it was 100 years ago.
The sixth Michael Fischer Symposium of the ‘Rethinking Europe’ series is being held in this rebellious city. After visits to Trieste (2012 and 2013), Piran (2014), Dubrovnik (2015) and, most recently, Syracuse (2016), we move to the south of France to build bridges between nations and cultures, between neighbours and complete strangers, between women and men, scientists and artists, young and old... We aim to build bridges from one language to another, from sound to light, from heaven to earth, from Africa to Europe. The connecting element is not just the architectural construct, rather it is first and foremost the sea, which was always a great source of inspiration for Michael Fischer.

It is said that Marseilles turns its back on France and faces out towards the sea. For 2 600 years, people have been coming here from – or have set off to – the four corners of the world. There have been many immigrants from Armenia, Italy, North Africa in the recent past, while in 1940 tens of thousands of desperate people waited on the quay in Marseille in the hope of leaving occupied France and fleeing the Nazis.
The face of the oldest and probably least French of all French cities is reflected in the Mediterranean sea, where Europe and Africa meet, goods are traded and war is waged. Here, in this Mediterranean metropolis and major port city, the ethno-cultural coexistence of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews is a daily reality, with all its opportunities and conflicts, which both unite and divide.
It is not just buildings, trade, and digital and analogue networks that serve as bridges with neighbours. Despite participation in the global society, understanding one another amidst a plethora of languages is, as ever, a big hurdle. ‘The language of Europe is translation’, Umberto Eco is often quoted as saying. Europe, and in particular the Mediterranean area, is based on a paradoxical practice: only ever saying ‘almost’ the same thing. Because Europe does not speak one national language - rather, the language of Europe is an ongoing process of translation. Translation can also serve us as a bridge to one common European and international home. And yet all translation is an illusion, as it can only ever be a reflection, an approximation.
But it is not just the usual problems of verbal translation that interest us - we are also inquiring into the framework conditions of image production and coding/decoding, and examining the potential of art, literature and music as bridges in intercultural processes.