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.  

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

The Chruch of Stop Shopping © Savitri D

IV: Choirs of Precarity & Power (Claudia Bosse, The Church of Stop Shopping, Alia Mossallam & Florian Malzacher)

Choirs are a very specific form of assembling – from representing “the people” in Greek tragedy via all kinds of religious choirs, political choirs, revolutionary choirs up to the legendary human mic at Occupy Wall Street and the iconic chants at Tahrir Square in 2011. Theatre director Claudia Bosse, art theorist Alia Mossallam, and the activists of The Church of Stop Shopping discuss the potential (and perhaps dangers), the tenderness, the precarity and the power of synchronised singing, chanting, shouting along concrete artistic and activistic practices in Cairo, New York and Vienna.

ALIA MOSSALLAM ° To Chant the Worlds Away. The Anatomy of the 2011 Revolution

‘unshaken’. It was one of the newer chants that were infused into us on the 25th of January 2011 – every time the police launched an offensive, and people started to run, someone would shout “Ithabt” as he or she stopped moving, and then several would shout it, and then tens and hundreds, until thousands would stop. I would close my ears and squeeze my eyes shut and let the thousands of voices shake through me, shake out the fear, and stabilise my resolve.