Once outsiders, these Viennese creatives have made their experience as immigrants, or their heritage an asset in the workplace. With a smaller market or specific expertise in an artistic niche, they have been able to make a name for themselves in very different ways.
DJ and music producer Joyce Muniz fell in love with the Viennese electronic music scene and began to DJ at 16. “I was shy, so I started playing music as a way to communicate and make friends,” says the Sao Paolo-born Muniz, who moved to Vienna in the mid-1990s with her parents. Now, as an international artist, she has friends everywhere, but Vienna is her base. “I’m glad not to live in Berlin or London. Those cities are heaving with creative people – you go for a coffee and you bump into five record producers! Here there’s still a music scene but it’s more chilled out, you can be anonymous here and you have your privacy. And the quality of life is great.” Joyce’s music is now known in Brazil, but she’s “Joyce from Vienna.” “I don’t think I’d have the same career if I’d stayed in Brazil. The plan was that I go to school and become a lawyer!”
London-born Eugene Quinn organizes art events across Vienna and co-founded the political culture group Space and Place. Moving here to be with the woman who is now his wife, he found Vienna “isn’t a city which jumps up and embraces you. It is more cool and complex than that.” To meet new people he created the Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations, where outsiders and locals sit down together to discuss life and ideas, as equals. Beyond the bureaucracy of moving to a new place, he didn’t find setting up home here too big a challenge. “It has world-class architecture, public transport, festivals, cafes and excellent drinking water.” He finds the city more interesting than “the dusty cliches” used to describe it and aims to “remix the city’s brand and celebrate my outsider status” with projects like the Vienna Ugly walking tour and magdas Social Dinners. “My Wien is the Donaukanal street art scene, FM4, Cafe Phil and TBA21 gallery.”
Julya and her parents fled the Soviet Union and communist oppression in 1970 when she was just seven years old. Now a critically acclaimed playwright and novelist, exile and alienation are central themes in her work, even though as a child she says that she was able to integrate “very easily.” “Vienna feels like home” to her but although she writes in German she doesn’t feel Austrian, or Russian for that matter: “I’m a European.” Vienna is a great city in which to be an artist, she says, “You have the old maestros here, and the new, young contemporary artists.” She also spent six years working as an interpreter for refugees and asylum seekers – many from the Chechen community, an experience that had a big impact on her writing.
Film director, creative director and fashion editor Adia Trischler moved to Vienna for love and “the promise of adventure.” Initially the language was her greatest challenge. “I came here not speaking a single word of German. It was the most humbling experience.” Almost 10 years later, she is “sometimes fluent” and she and her husband are raising their two children bilingually. As an African-American, the other “elephant in the room” was race. “There are days here when looking obviously non-Austrian still has its difficult moments.” But “since I’ve been here, Vienna has gotten its first black police officer and black bus driver.” Career-wise, she found that work was easier to find in Vienna because the market is smaller. “Vienna helped by allowing me space and time to think, to explore, to rest, to focus on love and my imagination. In New York I worked all of the time and never had a break.”