The General Assembly has been at the core of many social movements during the last decade: A zone of gathering, of building community, of experimenting with the way democracy can function. A space not only for trying out but living a different kind of decision making. Art historian Julia Ramírez-Blanco (Barcelona) just finished a book on the Spanish 15M movement, Oliver Ressler (Vienna) is one of the main documentarists of worldwide social mobilizations since many years. In the second edition of Gesellschaftsspiele – The Art of Assembly they reflect the crucial role of collective decision making for developing political alternatives.
Julia Ramírez-Blanco is art historian and lecturer in Barcelona University. Author of the book Artistic Utopias of Revolt, she researches the intersections between art, activism and utopian practice. She is currently finishing a book on the aesthetics and politics of the Spanish 15M movement. Ramírez-Blanco has lectured extensively in places such as Princeton or Columbia University, the Sao Paulo Art Museum or the Reina Sofía Museum.
Oliver Ressler (Vienna) produces installations, projects in public space, and films on economics, democracy, racism, climate disruption, forms of resistance and social alternatives. He has completed thirty-five films, whereas several of them are based on filming assemblies. His work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and biennales all over the world. Currently he works on a research project on the climate justice movement, Barricading the Ice Sheets.
Whether in Tunis, Cairo, Madrid, or Lisbon, in Athens, New York, London, or Istanbul, in post-Fukushima Tokyo, in the midst of Niemeyer’s iconic parliamentary architecture in Brasilia, under the umbrellas of Hong Kong, or on the streets of Minneapolis: social and political movements of recent years have often been characterised by their search for alternative forms of gathering, of arguing and making decisions, of negotiating community and society. The potential of these assemblies lies in more than just the demands they put forward; many of them change reality merely by practicing radical models of democracy.
The arts have also shown a renewed interest in concepts of gathering and creating public spheres in which society is not only mirrored but constantly tried out, performed, tested, reimagined, or even reinvented. There are court hearings on artistic freedom, religion, and censorship; tribunals on exploitation and violence; summits on climate change or cultural policy; parliaments allowing those who are usually silenced to speak... Theatre in particular has become a stage for assemblies on the fine line between art and reality, a democratic arena of radical imagination.
But what is the future this concept of gathering has ahead of it after months in a state of emergency that has thrown pretty much all areas of social life out of step? Gesellschaftsspiele: The Art of Assembly brings together protagonists from various fields of art, politics and theory to speculate on the future of assembly in a time of experiencing that nothing is certain – a time in which every form of physical togetherness has become precarious.
Florian Malzacher is a curator, dramaturg and writer. 2013-2017 he was artistic director of Impulse Theater Festival (Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mulheim/Ruhr), and 2006 - 2012 co-programmer of the multidisciplinary arts festival steirischer herbst (Graz). He (co-)curated e.g. the 4th and 5th International Summer Academy (Mousonturm Frankfurt, 2002 and 2004), “Dictionary of War” (2006/07), “Truth is concrete” (Graz, 2012), “Artist Organisations International” (HAU Berlin, 2015), “Appropriations” (Ethnological Museum Berlin, 2014), “Sense of Possibility” on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the revolution (St. Petersburg, 2017), “Training for the Future” (Ruhrtriennale 2018/19 with Jonas Staal), “After Supervising the Machinery” (2020). As a dramaturge he worked with artists like Rimini Protokoll (DE), Lola Arias (ARG), Mariano Pensotti (ARG), and Nature Theater of Oklahoma (USA). Florian Malzacher has edited and written numerous essays and books on theatre and performance and on the relationship between art and politics. His latest publications include Gesellschaftsspiele. Politisches Theater heute im Alexander Verlag Berlin. florianmalzacher.tumblr.com
Florian Malzacher. Gesellschaftsspiele. Politisches Theater heute. Berlin: Alexander Verlag, 2020.
It matters that as bodies we arrive together in public, that we are assembling in public; we are coming together as bodies in alliance in the street and in the square. […] So this is a politics of the public body, the requirements of the body, its movement and voice. […] We sit and stand and move and speak, as we can, as the popular will, the one that electoral democracy has forgotten and abandoned. But we are here, and remain here, enacting the phrase, “we the people.”
Judith Butler, Occupy Wall Street, 2011
With Oliver Marchart, Chantal Mouffe, Sibylle Peters, Julia Ramírez-Blanco, Milo Rau, Oliver Ressler, Dana Yahalomi / Public Movement u.a. Guests on 19th February Oliver Ressler (visual artist & film maker, Vienna) and und Julia Ramírez-Blanco (art scholar, Barcelona) Curated by Florian Malzacher A production by brut – Koproduktionshaus Wien GmbH In cooperation with Münchner Kammerspiele and Wiener Festwochen
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