At least since Joseph Beuys’ legendary “International College for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research” artistic assemblies are also a playing field for the production and transfer of knowledge. The 17th edition of “The Art of Assembly investigates along concrete artistic practices how tools and experiences from performing arts offer settings and strategies for unexpected communication and transversal education: Choreographer and curator Satu Herrala in her works focusses on embodied knowledges in artistic and curatorial work, creating conditions for art to summon collective and transformative agencies. Artist Ahmet Öğüt – initiator of the Silent University, a solidarity-based knowledge exchange platform by displaced people and forced migrants- often seeks his collaborators outside the art field. Theatre maker Lotte van den Berg, one of the initiators of the ongoing project “Building Conversation”, centers her practice around collective experiences and the relation between performance and social as well as ecological challenges. How can art offer spaces for empowerment and self-development?
SATU HERRALA ° Embodying Collective Action
Bodies are containers for life, they exist in the present yet carry the past within. Attuning to one’s body and senses is attuning to being in relation with one’s environment and with the myriad of other bodies and life forms that exist in countless shapes and sizes. Bodily knowledge or, “knowing in and through the body”, as philosopher Jaana Parvianen puts it, has been long suppressed in the Western epistemological accounts. What happens when we begin to listen to and with our bodies, when we embody what we know, when we form collective bodies that can act beyond the capacities of individual bodies? How does artistic and curatorial work that attunes to diverse bodies and bodily knowledges contribute to the emergence of transformative agencies and collective action?
XV: Parliaments of Things and Beings (Eva von Redecker, Alexander Karschnia/andcompany&Co. & Florian Malzacher)
Latour sums up, “The question is no longer to grand rights to non-humans, but to accept to be dependent on them.” But what does that actually mean? How can non-human representation look like, what would be a non-anthropocentric assembly? In the 15th edition of The Art of Assembly the theatre group andcompany&Co. praises the intelligence of insects and considers renaming itself ANTCOMPANY, while philosopher Eva von Redecker proposes a “revolution for life” in order to escape the prison of capitalism and find new forms of solidarity: Care instead of domination, regeneration instead of utilization, participation instead of exploitation.
TANIA BRUGUERA ° Truth or Dare
Tania Bruguera is a Cuban artist and activist whose work often considers totalitarianism, immigration, and human rights. Bruguera, who intended to raise awareness and expand cultural inclusion, defined her work as arte útil (useful art). Her work has been represented in leading collections of MoMA and Tate Modern among other places. In 2015 she founded the Institute of Artivism/Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt (INSTAR) in order to “foster civic literacy and policy change.” In 2021 she agreed to leave Cuba to assume the position of senior lecturer in media and performance at Harvard University in exchange for the release of 25 political prisoners.
CLAIRE BISHOP ° Revisiting Participation
of Spectatorship (Verso, 2012). In anticipation of a reprint to mark the book’s tenth anniversary, this talk will gauge the development of participation over the last decade in art and performance (and beyond). It will revisit the book’s blind spots—namely, omissions concerning technology and race–and reflect on how the book’s central aesthetic argument, in favor of antagonism, has lost force in the last decade.
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.
IX: Reassambling Institutions (Ahmed Al-Nawas, Nora Sternfeld, Sarah Waterfeld / Staub zu Glitzer & Florian Malzacher)
Can institutions be driving forces of change? Or are they doomed to be bastions of the status quo, capable of slow reforms at best? Arguments about institutions, instituting and institutionalizing are at the core of many progressive movements. But what would it actually mean to imagine institutions in a radical democratic way? How can we understand museums, theatres, galleries, festivals, biennales as assemblies – not only symbolically but by consequently re-negotiating their organizational structures? Curator Ahmed Al-Nawas, focusing in his work on collaborative, anti-racist and de-colonizing practices, takes a close look at the role of authorship and representation within collectives. Nora Sternfeld, art educator and curator, negotiates the possibilities for a radical-democratic museum, imagining a future that is more than the mere extension of the present. And Sarah Waterfeld, spokesperson of the collective Staub zu Glitzer (Dust to Glitter) that occupied 2017 Volksbühne in Berlin with its transmedia theatre production B6112, demands a fundamental rethinking of the way the iconic ‘people’s theatre’ is run.
AHMED AL-NAWAS ° Parallel economies of thinking together
the necessity to rethink the elitism and whiteness nurtured by the Finnish art field and the need to be independent but still engaged and the need to have spaces where failure is embraced as a counter normative actions. Often this led to the creation of what Okwui Enwezor calls ”parallel economies of artistic productions”, as opposed to “alternative spaces”. In such productions, collective knowledge-based practices are used as a strategy to both challenge and unify the field of art.
V: Versammlung der Vielen (Eduard Freudmann, Gin Müller, Heidrun Primas, Philine Rinnert & Florian Malzacher) in German language
“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.