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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.
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
Claudia Bosse (Vienna)
Alia Mossallam (Cairo/Berlin)
The Church of Stop Shopping (New York City)
Claudia Bosse lives in Vienna and Berlin, is a director, choreographer, artist and director of theatercombinat. Her works deal with forms of violence, history and concrete utopias. As the “art of a temporary community”, she understands her spatial choreographies, in which she interweaves myths, rituals, texts and documents with bodies, language, objects and choirs to create space-specific pieces. Within and outside Europe, in museums, architecture, theatres and urban spaces, she develops works and interventions. She teaches, publishes and participates in research projects. Since 2011, installation works have also been created that deal with archives and museum collections. Claudia Bosse recently showed her first solo ORACLE and SACRIFICE 1 oder die evakurierung der gegegwart at Tanzquartier Wien and in Düsseldorf and the last IDEAL PARADISE in Jakarta, which was previously shown at the Deutsche Tanzplattform 2018 in Essen.
Alia Mossallam is a cultural historian and writer interested in songs that tell stories and stories that tell of popular struggles behind the better-known events that shape world history.She is currently a EUME post-doctoral fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin where she is writing a book on the visual and musical archiving practices of the builders of the Aswan High Dam and the Nubian communities displaced by it. Some of her writings can be found in The Journal of Water History, The History Workshop Journal, the LSE Middle East Centre paper Series, Jadaliyya, Ma’azif, Bidayat and Mada Masr. In producing her research in different formats, she has tried her hand at playwriting and written Rawi in the long-form nonfiction platform 60-pages. An experimentative pedagogue, she founded the site-specific public history project Ihky ya Tarikh, and taught at the American University in Cairo, Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Freie Universität in Berlin.
The Stop Shopping Choir is a radical performance community based in New York City, they are from many different creative and activist backgrounds and reflect many communities and homelands. The Choir has evolved a very particular sound and performance experience from the synthesis of their lived experience. The choir is grounded in the work of Justice and in service to the Earth. They love to sing together.
Savitri D. is an activist. She is the director of Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir a 50 person radical performance community based in New York City. Since 2001 she has staged direct actions, interventions and spectacles in contested space all over the world and collaborated with communities to create paths of resistance and resilience. Most recently she has been deeply involved in issues of immigration, extinction and fossil fuel extraction. She has lectured and led workshops on the topic of creative resistance at Universities & Festivals for more than 15 years and frequently offers trainings for activists in New York City. The Church of Stop Shopping is the recipient of an Obie Award, the Alpert award on the Arts and the Edwin Booth Award in Theater.
Reverend Billy is a writer and performer. He developed the character Reverend Billy in response to the Disneyfication of New York City in the late 90’s and has been active in movements opposing Consumerism in its broadest sense, especially Neo liberal economies and Militarism. Currently he is creating a weekly radio show Reverend Billy Radio and a LIVE! Talk show, Extinction Talk Radio.
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 April 10th Claudia Bosse (Vienna), Alia Mossallam (Cairo/Berlin) & The Church of Stop Shopping (New York City) Curated by Florian Malzacher
A production by brut – Koproduktionshaus Wien GmbH In cooperation with Münchner Kammerspiele and Wiener Festwochen
Online Livestream via brut-wien.at
Nordwestbahnstraße 8-10, 1200 Wien
Tram: 5 (Nordwestbahnstraße), Bus: 5A (Wasnergasse)
Zieglergasse 25, 1070 Wien
U-Bahn: U3 (Zieglergasse), Tram: 49 (Westbahnstraße / Zieglergasse)