The times before and after big wars call for an intensified effort in national self-definition. In search for a marketable image of a territory and the people living inside its borders, nation branding agencies are commissioned to construct the image of a nation, define identification parameters for its inhabitants and create a national corporate identity for the sake of competitivity on the international market.
The American film “The Sound of Music” has unintentionally contributed to Austrian nation branding for the last 50 years. Strongly influenced by Austrian and German Heimatfilm, it displays a romantic notion of the country, showing Alpine meadows and lakes, aristocratic architecture and beautiful children making folk music under the tutelage of a singing nun. As one of the most successful films in cinema history, and yet largely unknown in Austria, “The Sound of Music” conveys a kitschified image of Austria to the world, and thus creates a recognizable characterization of the nation and its values.
Against the panoramic backdrop of these ideas, the Austria-based performance group The Loose Collective creates a montage of foley sounds, sample texts, choreographies, technicolor visuals, songs and souvenirs. Abseiling into the treacherous rift between representation and perception, they raise questions such as: What is a nation? Why are we supposed to identify with certain fictions of belonging? To what extent do we experience our packaged heritage as empowering, embarrassing or alienating?