Last Word | Bürgerschreck

To be truly integrated in Vienna there are certain terms no dictionary or Deutschkurs will properly explain. But you’re no stranger, so here’s this month’s cheat sheet.

Bürgerschreck

[ˈbʏʁɡɐˌʃʀɛk]

Noun. Lit. “Terrorizer of the Bourgeoisie;” A person who deliberately tries to shock and offend the conservative middle classes with provocative behavior. Most commonly used in reference to Punk rockers, artists, Anarcho-Communists, exhibitionists, juvenile delinquents, Hippies, drag queens, Satanists, actors et al., although a particularly smug Bürgerschreck may self-identify as such as a badge of honor. Sticking it to stuffy, restrictive society with their rules and morals has a long tradition within the Austrian arts; Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka and others from the Wiener Moderne loved defying convention, seeing it as their duty to defend “artistic freedom.” The culmination thus far, however, has come from the Wiener Aktionisten of the 1960s and ‘70s, whose public orgies, crucifixions, paintings using blood and feces, crotchless jeans and animal slaughter still live in infamy to this day. While the current generation appears to be less rebellious than their counterculture predecessors, annoying the squares (and, by extension, their parents) appears to be alive and well in the 21st century, as any visit to the Wiener Festwochen, Impulstanz or the studios at the Bildende will confirm.

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This was written by the Metropole editorial Team. Sometimes its an expat, sometimes a native, most of the time the lines are blurred, and sometimes we're sharing someone else's content, but we always say so. Oh yeah, and buy our magazine! Thanks.

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