Discussions about representation in assemblies, democracies and legal cases are usually reserved to human beings. But recent discussions around the Anthropocene and new materialism have fiercely challenged such anthropocentric limitations. Professor for Law Radha D’Souza argues that the concept of rights is fundamentally flawed as it is always associated with private property, contracts, and contractual social relations. Drawing on insights from indigenous cultures and everyday practices, she points out the centrality of assembly for collective life among animals and humans. Performance maker and theorist Sibylle Peters deals in her practice as theorist and theatre maker since many years with concepts of assembling – recently also trying to create zones of companionship in which humans and other co-species can come together without food chains or zoo cages getting in-between.
In 2019 Sibylle Peters devised a project called Animals of Manchester (including humanz) for which she tried to install a zone of interspecies equality in a park. Live artists, animal rights activists, researchers, kids and a number of species present in Manchester worked together to imagine and rehearse an alternative version of the city: How would it look like, if all species – including humanz – had the same rights?
“Die Vielen“ sind ein solidarischer Zusammenschluss zahlreicher Kunst- und Kultureinrichtungen in Österreich und Deutschland. Diese Sonderausgabe wirft einen Blick auf verschiedene künstlerisch-aktivistische Aktionen im öffentlichen Raum Österreichs: Heidrun Primas, Leiterin des Grazer Forum Stadtpark, ist Mitinitiatorin der “Camps für Moria”; die Künstler Eduard Freudmann und Gin Müller protestieren mit der “Schandwache” gegen ein Denkmal des antisemitischen Wiener Bürgermeisters Karl Lueger; die Bühnenbildnerin Philine Rinnert ist eine zentrale Protagonistin „Der Vielen” in Deutschland.
Drawing on insights from indigenous cultures and everyday practices, D’Souza’s talk focuses on the centrality of assembly for collective life among animals and humans. Capitalist modernity introduces a rupture between natures, peoples and places by transforming nature into property, people into ‘labour force’ and place into territory. The concept of rights in liberal theory and practice plays a critical role in transforming a natural relationship into a legal one founded on property and contract. The challenge is to go beyond “othering”
The Schandwache (Vigil of Disgrace) took place in October 2020 at the monument to the former mayor of Vienna Karl Lueger. Lueger is considered one of the most pronounced anti-Semites of the 20th century. His memorial is disputed. The aim of the action was to protect graffiti from removal by the authorities. It that had been placed on the monument by unknown persons in the summer of 2020 to mark it as a “Schande (Disgrace)”. The “Schandwache” took place in cooperation with 16 civil society, cultural and political organisations in the week before the elections in Vienna. Before the opening, two of the “Schande” inscriptions were replicated as gold reliefs and applied to the monument. The installation was destroyed the same day by right-wing extremists. In the course of the following public debate, representatives of the Vienna city government spoke out in favour of a redesign of the monument.
DIE VIELEN (THE MANY) organise national actions, demonstrations and various events that oppose hatred and promote coexistence with open borders – both internally and externally. Debates within the theatre and art scene are proving contentious. The association acts as an active network and provides platforms for networking.
Choirs are a very specific form of assembling – from representing “the people” in Greek tragedy via all kinds of religious choirs, political choirs, revolutionary choirs up to the legendary human mic at Occupy Wall Street and the iconic chants at Tahrir Square in 2011. Theatre director Claudia Bosse, art theorist Alia Mossallam, and the activists of The Church of Stop Shopping discuss the potential (and perhaps dangers), the tenderness, the precarity and the power of synchronised singing, chanting, shouting along concrete artistic and activistic practices in Cairo, New York and Vienna.
Savitri D explores some of the intersections between Assembly and Song through her work as Director of the Stop Shopping Choir, using mostly casual video and audio recordings she relates the experience of song and singing to the formation of Assemblies and Movement Building.
Choir is also a gathering of different interests that approach each other over a period of time, negotiating their differences, experiences and understandings.
Sharing, articulating. not always with words, but with actions in a physical articulation in space, space-grasping.
A connection to others, previously unfamiliar, is created.
Society and play at the same time.
‘unshaken’. It was one of the newer chants that were infused into us on the 25th of January 2011 – every time the police launched an offensive, and people started to run, someone would shout “Ithabt” as he or she stopped moving, and then several would shout it, and then tens and hundreds, until thousands would stop. I would close my ears and squeeze my eyes shut and let the thousands of voices shake through me, shake out the fear, and stabilise my resolve.