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

XVII: Assembling Knowledge (Satu Herrala, Ahmet Öğüt, Lotte van den Berg Florian Malzacher)

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?

LOTTE VAN DEN BERG ° Building Conversation

Building Conversation is a dialogical art platform, based in Amsterdam, initiated by Lotte van den Berg and Daan ’t Sas, led together with Peter Aers. In the performative conversations they guide and perform together with participating audiences all over Europe, the theater itself becomes a public space. In over a 1000 performative conversations they explored the boundaries of what theater is and can be. Relating to the theatrical space as a temporary public space; a place in the midst of people, built with our bodies and words, that makes actions and interactions visible and revalues ​​presence. Everybody present joins and together they evoke the fiction, which in this context does not stand for fantasy, the ‘as if’, but rather stands for a heightened reality, an extra focus on what is, ‘the very present present’. Not in the first place concerned with what takes place on stage, but focussed on the way in which we can create stage together.

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.

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. 

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.

SARAH WATERFELD / STAUB ZU GLITZER ° Art After All

B6112 is an anti-capitalist, queer-feminist, anti-racist, transmedial theatre production by the artist collective Staub zu Glitzer (dust to glitter). It was established on September 22nd 2017 with the occupation of the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin and is not over yet. With and within this artwork, specific demands are made on theatres as institutions: overcoming bourgeois exclusivity, the radical opening of space for a self-organization process and the collective, participatory development of a new city- or state theatre model. It is not enough to designate a small group of people as collective directorships and to appoint them to managerial positions. In addition to egalitarian wage policies, there has to be a fundamental discussion about who is entitled to a theatre stage and who the final decision maker should be in this respect. Berlin’s free space and project-room culture is dying out and one approach is to demand tax-financed institutions for self-organization, although and precisely because this does not correspond to the self-image of these elitist cultural areas. As a place founded by organized workers, the Volksbühne should play a pioneering role in the discourse of participation, anarchist organization, and anti-fascist engagement.

© CHRIS PAYNE

VI: Assembling More Than Humans (Radha D‘Souza, Sibylle Peters & Florian Malzacher)

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.

© CHRIS PAYNE

SIBYLLE PETERS ° Reassembling Humanz & Other Animals

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?