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.

© Barbara Braun / MuTphoto

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.

ANN LIV YOUNG ° Coming too close

The performances of Ann Liv young often rely on irritation and direct confrontation. There is no shelter, especially for the audience. She pushes the limits, psychologically and sometimes physically. In her lascivious, exalted, and merciless shows Ann Liv Young comes close, too close, psychologically and physically. Trash and depth, naked flesh and gender awareness, flagellation and redemption, chaos and order – her works deconstruct pop-cultural stereotypes, interpret fairy tales very idiosyncratically or retell the biographies of historical personalities. Not infrequently, to land on the ground of desolate reality, Ann Liv Young unsettles her audience by provoking and embarrassing them, transcending the boundaries of intimacy.

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

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.