XVIII: Body Next to Body: Gathering Masses in Sport Events (with Z. Blace, Caitlin Davis Fisher & Michael Gabriel & Florian Malzacher)

The energy of body next to body. The excitement of the game. Winning, loosing, bursts of emotions. Shouting, singing, yelling, joy, and anger – sometimes on the verge of violence. Elite sport events bring together masses of people across nations, they are gathering with an immense personal importance for many and at the same time highly politicized billion-dollar businesses, streamlined for maximum profits on the borders of legality. This edition of The Art of Assembly takes place 50 years after the Olympic games in Munich, right in the middle of the legendary Olympiapark, envisioned as an open, democratic, and egalitarian space but immediately drawn into the abyss of world politics.
Artist and queer activist Z. Blace looks at how sport events could become owned by the community, counter-nationalist, counter-normative, gender-just and a sex-positive emancipatory experience. Caitlin Davis Fisher, a former professional athlete, works as movement researcher, artist and activist on gender, labor, the body, and community organizing in/with/through football. Expert in fan culture and social worker Michael Gabriel gives an insight into the cultural practices of the ULTRAS, claiming streets and stadiums with elaborated choreographies and the self-confidence of the masses. 
The event took place in the frame of “Soft Democracies”, a project by raumlaborberlin as part of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympics, organized by the Cultural Department of the City of Munich.  

Z. BLACE ° Queering Sport (Events)

QueerSport is an effort to understand, propose, prototype, intervene in the norms through queer expressions without defining it. Z. Blace informs and instigates some of these practices in different constellations ranging from grassroots organizing, embedded research, media campaigns, educational workshops, conceptual artworks and advocacy for Cultural Social Responsibility for Sport.

CAITLIN FISHER ° Post Play

Drawing on embodied experiences from the football pitch, Fisher uses movement, muscle memory, and narrative to discuss navigating a shifting terrain of femininity under the pressures of neoliberal growth. She uses somatic activism to question the enclosure of the market on the women’s game as felt on the flesh and its impact on movements and the connections between us. Powerful mechanisms of conformity take hold and gendered scripts dominate as players are pressured to prove their talent via football labor and their femininity via bodily labor to garner resources and opportunities. Discrepancies between representation and lived experience, what are the implications for agency, self-expression, solidarity and collective belonging? How could a look beyond the market-state to the embodied commons offer routes to emancipation and how we can conceive of a shared understanding about other ways to be together.

MICHAEL GABRIEL ° Stubborn and Independent: The Ultras

The emotional attachment and cultural expressions of football fans shape professional soccer worldwide. Clubs and the fan culture associated with them are often socio-cultural ambassadors for urban societies, regions, or countries. Since the mid-1990s, the male-dominated Ultras have been the central players of fan culture in Germany, replacing the so-called “Kuttenträger” and the hooligans. Many see them as the largest youth subculture at present. Stubborn and independent, sometimes even resistant, they operate in a highly commercialized environment shaped by massive security interests. What ideas and dynamics drive the Ultras? What is their relationship to profit-oriented clubs and the police? How do they appropriate public space? What role do girls and women play in the male-dominated scenes

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?

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

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.

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. 

Floor Table, Merve Bedir, Mutfak مطبخ Workshop, 2021

MERVE BEDIR ° Hospitality and the Politics of the Floor Table

form of the table, who sits at the table, and how to sit at the table, as well as manners of eating, talking, and sharing are all based on a politics of instituting everyday life and public space. “Turning the table” then is a matter of questioning hospitality and its politics around the table. Ulus Baker’s theory of intervals is based on the proximity between two things/subjects (that may or may not seem far from each other), and their participation in the existence of a total being. My talk will then focus what might constitute an architecture of proximities.

MARINA OTERO VERZIER ° Architectures of Unconditional Hospitality

Architecture, as a biopolitical and normalizing technique, participates in constructing distinctions and categories. The work of architects oozes Cartesianism. It produces differential social spaces that either facilitate or prevent their encounter of bodies and their movement. For the work of architects often involves drawing abstract, assertive lines that define insides, outsides, ups and downs. Lines that support historical forms of exclusion, and discrimination. Yet, these capabilities, I would argue, could also be deployed to dismantle the boundaries that currently define, enclose, and exploit the world and the common interest; the boundaries on compassion; the compartmentalization and instrumentalization of relations. This, in turn, requires imagining other architectures to come. A non-Cartesian architecture that might not be designed to quantify, control, categorize. An architecture difficult to describe under dual categories. An architecture for the encounter and assemblage between animals, humans, plants, machinic and inanimate beings. An architecture of radical hospitality.