In this series of talks, curator and author Florian Malzacher is joined by guests from arts, politics and theory to reflect on the potential of assemblies in activism, politics and art. „Gesellschaftsspiele - The Art of Assembly" speculates on the potential of assembly in a time in which every form of physical togetherness has become precarious.
With Jodi Dean, Oliver Marchart, Chantal Mouffe, Julia Ramírez-Blanco, Oliver Ressler, Jonas Staal, Dana Yahalomi / Public Movement et al.
The Art of Assembly – Gesellschaftsspiele, a series by Florian Malzacher and brut Wien, in cooperation with Münchner Kammerspiele, Wiener Festwochen, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz (Berlin), BIT Teatergarasjen / METEOR 2021, NT Gent, Theater Neumarkt Zürich & Goethe Institut / Performing Architecture,
XXV: Assemblies of Individuals. Live Work in Non-Performance Spaces (with Mette Edvardsen, Tino Sehgal & Florian Malzacher)
Theatres regulate space and time for their audiences and demand collective engagement. Other kinds of venues – like museums or libraries – are designed to separate and isolate even large crowds and promote liberal ideas of emancipation. Everyone decides for themselves how long they want to stay and engage. The 25th edition of “The Art of Assembly” looks at artistic approaches to assemblies in cultural places not originally intended for performance. Choreographer Mette Edvardsen looks for soft spaces where her discrete performances become a porous part of the environment, where performers and audiences are in more than one space at the same time. Artist Tino Sehgal has been working with the DNA of museums and the liberal assemblies created by exhibitions, which he uses for his constructed situations – thin lines that direct attention and gazes, choreographing the paths of the audience.
XXIV: Interwoven Bodies (with Michael Hardt, Michael Kliën, Pedro Lasch, Corina Stan & Florian Malzacher)
How do we deliberate before and beyond language, how do we create relations without words, how are our bodies determined by the spaces we are in? The 25th edition of The Art of Assembly takes place in the context of Michael Kliën’s “Parliament”, a social choreography in which citizen-performers work in silence to hold council amidst the elemental phenomena and fundamental concerns of collectively lived experience. Political philosopher and literature theorist Michael Hardt together with Antonio Negri coined the term Multitude, describing a „multiplicity of singularities acting together“: a network that is neither homogeneous nor self-identical. Visual artist Pedro Lasch, director of the Social Practice Lab at Duke University, works with choreographies of festive gatherings, multiplatform social communication, and other artworks created through interaction. Literature scholar Corina Stan shows that relations are not only constructed by proximity but also by interpersonal distances that have shaped ethical thinking throughout modernity.
XXIII: Gathering (in the) Cloud. Digital Performance Beyond Zoom (with Kent Bye, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Sarah Rothberg & Florian Malzacher)
The pandemic introduced virtual gatherings into many people’s lives. Team meetings, activist assemblies, even theater performances were now attended from kitchen chairs, sofas, and beds. Both activists and performance makers (usually strong believers in the need for bodily presence) resorted to screens–and if only because there was no choice. Where are we now and what comes after Zoom? Is the metaverse more than a promise or threat? In this edition of the Art of Assembly we look at how performing arts are approaching digital realms. Journalist Kent Bye, who hosted hundreds of game developers, academics, creatives, and enthusiasts in the VR and AR fields on his podcast “Voices of VR,” offers a brief overview of virtual gatherings in art and activism. Jaamil Olawale Kosoko speaks about their virtual performance suite Chameleon: The Living Installments, exploring the fugitive realities of living at the intersection of digitality, Blackness and queerness. Sarah Rothberg introduces her playful VR/AR experiences and talks about the intersection of interactivity and performance.
XXII: Provoke me if you can. The crisis of artistic disturances (with Núria Güell, Renzo Marten & Florian Malzacher)
Provocations as a means of disturbance have long been part of artists’ as well as activists’ basic toolkits. But in a time when many already feel permanently snubbed, artistic provocations often seem stale and redundant. The demand for repair, care, and healing dominates artistic discourse. On the other hand, when climate activists glue themselves to highways or oil paintings, emotions run high throughout society. Meanwhile, the political far-right blatantly focuses on lowering inhibition thresholds: Continued taboo-breaking pushes the boundaries of what is say- and doable. Núria Güell’s artistic practice continuously challenges moral and legal conventions when, for example, she offers herself as a bride to random Cuban man who wants to get a Spanish passport, or when, in reverse, she tries to become stateless herself. Renzo Martens disturbed viewers with videos such as Enjoy Poverty in which he centered himself as a white man and propagated the self-gentrification of Congolese plantations. Meanwhile, however, his role as a performer as well as the relationship to the protagonists of his work has fundamentally changed. In time where confrontational practices are generally questioned, The Art of Assembly investigates how the concept of provocation has shifted in recent years.
XX: Nous Accusons! People’s Tribunals between Politics, Activism & Art (with Lisa Ito-Tapang / Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Wolfgang Kaleck / ECCHR, Madlyn Sauer & Florian Malzacher)
Inspired by People’s Tribunals like the one organized by philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1966 to investigate American war crimes in… Read more XX: Nous Accusons! People’s Tribunals between Politics, Activism & Art (with Lisa Ito-Tapang / Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Wolfgang Kaleck / ECCHR, Madlyn Sauer & Florian Malzacher)
XIX: Safe vs. Brave? Art Between Sanctuary and Confrontation (with Miriam Ibrahim, Edit Kaldor und Ingo Niermann / Army of Love, Florian Malzacher)
Contemporary stages have often become places to exhibit one’s own injuries, traumas, or shame. Theater as a safer space – in the spirit of a concept that emerged in the USA in the 1960s in feminist and civil rights movements: A protected sphere in which one could communicate about one’s own experiences, goals, and strategies without already being confronted with permanent opposition from those who already dominate all discourses. But as important as protection against insult, injury, and re-traumatization is – doesn’t theater also have to be a space where there are no limits to freedom of expression, where everything can be discussed openly and radically? Perhaps, however, this oft-repeated juxtaposition is already following the wrong path.