XII: Pitfalls of Representation. Assemblies in Theatre (Milo Rau, School of Resistance, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination & Florian Malzacher)

Numerous theater makers and artists have been inspired by the concept and the performative reality of assembly in recent years, creating, directing, initiating trials, parliaments, congresses, summits and assemblies in white cubes and black boxes, on proscenium stages and public spaces. But the relationship between theatrical and political representation remains complicated. What are difference and proximity between physical presence within an art institution and on, for example, an occupied square? The 12th edition of The Art of Assembly looks at the often productive, often ambivalent relationship between art and activism, inviting three very different initiators of assemblies: Theater director Milo Rau believes in staging and realistic representation in his plays, while for his tribunals and trials he invented what he calls „symbolic institutions“; the School of Resistance uses theatrical settings but understands itself as an activist, not an artistic project; and the activists Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan believe: If you truly want to do politics, you have to desert the institution of art and entangle insurrectionary imagination into the everyday life of movements.

SCHOOL OF RESISTANCE ° Assembling Political Power

On the weekend of the German federal elections of 2021IIPM, NTGent, Schauspiel Köln and the School of Political Hope hosted together with #LeaveNoOneBehind and numerous organizations from all over the world a School of Resistance for a new politics of humanity and justice. How can the system of dehumanization, illegalization and exploitation of migrants in Europe be overturned? A manifesto signed by over 80 public figures and a joint fundraising campaign which supports human rights lawyers to bring responsible politicians and officials to court, explored new possibilities and potentials for the convergence of art and activism. Is art a future tool for survival for global citizens to become agents of change in times of crisis?

MILO RAU ° From symbolic Institutions to Microecologies

Milo Rau believes in staging and realistic representation in his theatre plays, while for his tribunals and trials or the General Assembly he invented what he calls „symbolic institutions“ – an open, often antagonistic gathering of opinions and conflicting thruths. Recent projects like The Revolt of Dignity or the School of Resistance tries to hack the economic and political systems by means of art, constructing what Milo calls „alternative micro-ecologies. In his talk, Milo will trace his path from theatre plays and trial projects like Orestes in Mosul or The Moscow Trials to symbolic institutions like The Congo Tribunal and General Assembly – the basis for his actual holistic approach in projects like The Revolt of Dignity or A filmschool for Mosul that he develops with various partners from the arts, civil society and politics.

ISABELLE FREMEAUX & JAY JORDAN / LABOFII ° Compos(t)ing Together to actually do shit!

co-design and deploy forms of creative disobedience since 2004. Consensus decision making and assembling is at the heart of this process, which is always entangled with radical movements and yet also has a foot in cultural institutions. Whether it was co-organising the horizontal processes of Climate Camps, transforming theatre stages into meetings to organise disobedience, facilitating the mass talk shops at Occupy London or at the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, coordinating shared life and struggle against an airport and its world – the Labofii has tasted many flavours of assembling. This talk/film explores Labofii’s experience of these different contexts and ask how can artists use assemblies in the art world without becoming extractivist and loosing the powerful potential of reciprocal relationships to activist movements

© Barbara Braun / MuTphoto

ANDCOMPANY&CO. ° The Ant of Assembly

Ants are a „secret world power“ – dumb individually, but supersmart as a collective: a „superorganism“. They make decisions without an approving authority. And without a process of deliberation. But maybe there is more to learn from ants. andcompany&Co. is in the process of transforming into the ANTCOMPANY. Recent research has shown that ants play an active role in the natural process of „weathering“. Thus they could help to cool down the planet. And to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground. The time for theorizing is over, time to start to experiment! Time for ANTiFA ACTION AGAINST FOSSIL FASCISM! Two species, one demand: CANCEL INDUSTRIAL CO²!

Floating University © Pierre Ardenis

XI: Architectures of Hospitality (Merve Bedir, Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius/raumlabor berlin, Marina Otero Verzier & Florian Malzacher)

Hospitality – with all its seeming generosity – is a complex concept: Who is invited into our societies, our assemblies? What are the relationships between guests and hosts? Is unconditional hospitality possible? The architecture of public space, the infrastructures of coming together, the borders and thresholds around them inform how we come together, what is prevented from happening, what is possible. The 11th edition of The Art of Assembly looks at the physical relations of gatherings, how bodies and objects are organised, how radical concepts of democracy can be represented in space. Architect and researcher Merve Bedir since long researches infrastructures of hospitality and mobility as well of the residue of solidarity in urban and public space. For raumlabor architecture is a tool, in search for a city of possibilities, considering themselves activists, operating within the urban landscape. And for architect and scholar Marina Otero Verzier is concerned with how the work of architects, in coordination with other social and institutional techniques, produces differential spaces that either facilitate or prevent their encounter of bodies.

X: Politiche della moltitudine – ITALIAN VERSION (Antonio Negri, Anna Clara Basilicò & Marco Baravallle)

La moltitudine è una “molteplicità di singolarità che agiscono insieme” (Antonio Negri/Michael Hardt), “i molti, visti come molti” (Paolo Virno): una rete che non è omogenea né autoidentica. Il concetto di moltitudine è controproposto all’idea di popolo. Un soggetto rivoluzionario difficile da afferrare o da definire – di volta in volta lodato o criticato per questa apertura. La decima edizione di “The Art of Assembly” affronta il tema dell’assemblea come strumento e strategia della moltitudine per prendere decisioni e comunicare. Antonio Negri rivisita il concetto che – insieme a Michael Hardt – ha reso popolare nei primi anni 2000, mentre l’attivista climatica Anna Clara Basilicò discute il suo potenziale per i movmenti del presente.

X: The Politics of Multitude (Antonio Negri, Anna Clara Basilicò & Marco Baravallle)

Multitude is a „multiplicity of singularities acting together“ (Antonio Negri/Michael Hardt), „the many, seen as being many“ (Paolo Virno): a network that is neither homogeneous nor self-identical. The concept of the multitude is a counterproposal to the idea of the people, a revolutionary subject that is difficult to grasp or to define – and has been both praised and criticized for this openness. The 10th edition of The Art of Assembly looks at the role of the assembly as a tool and strategy for the multitude to make decisions and to communicate. Political theorist Antonio Negri revisits the concept he – together with Michael Hardt – popularized in the earl 2000s while climate activist Anna Clara Basilicò looks at its potential for current movements.

Floating University © Pierre Ardenis

BENJAMIN FOERSTER-BALDENIUS / RAUMLABORBERLIN ° Hospitality as Spacial Practice

Hospitality is first and foremost a social practice and can be situated in any place and become manifest in many ways. Hospitality is a design factor for buildings with rapidly decreasing relevance. Security, commercial value and hygienic measures are becoming the ruling flavours of our time. Many buildings that are designated to perform hospitality such as hospitals, airports, welcome centers, border posts, fair grounds, stadiums, governmental institutions or climate summit halls fail completely in this respect. We are surrounded by the multiplication of growing fortresses that strive to protect us from the rest of the world and the rest of the world from us. We can only steer against this trend if we make hospitality a spacial practice. 

ANTONIO NEGRI ° The Politics of Multitude

Antonio Negri is an Italian philosopher and activist. He has taught at the University of Padua, at the Ecole Normale Supèrieure and other European, American and Asian universities. His books have been translated into different languages and have established him as one of the most relevant thinkers at international level. Together with Michael Hardt he is the author of Empire (2000), Multitude (2004), Commonwealth (2009) and Assembly (2017). (2017). He is among the members of the international collective Euronomade.