Numerous theater makers and artists have been inspired by the concept and the performative reality of assembly in recent years, creating, directing, initiating trials, parliaments, congresses, summits and assemblies in white cubes and black boxes, on proscenium stages and public spaces. But the relationship between theatrical and political representation remains complicated. What are difference and proximity between physical presence within an art institution and on, for example, an occupied square? The 12th edition of The Art of Assembly looks at the often productive, often ambivalent relationship between art and activism, inviting three very different initiators of assemblies: Theater director Milo Rau believes in staging and realistic representation in his plays, while for his tribunals and trials he invented what he calls „symbolic institutions“; the School of Resistance uses theatrical settings but understands itself as an activist, not an artistic project; and the activists Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan believe: If you truly want to do politics, you have to desert the institution of art and entangle insurrectionary imagination into the everyday life of movements.
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Gesellschaftsspiele. The Art of Assembly is a series of lectures and conversations on the potential of assemblies in activism, art and politics hosted by Florian Malzacher. Former and future guests include Judith Butler, Jodie Dean, Radha D`Souza, Didier Eribon, Max Haiven, Oliver Marchart, Alia Mossallam, Chantal Mouffe, Sibylle Peters, Milo Rau, Oliver Ressler, Jonas Staal & Dana Yahalomi. The series is produced by brut Wien, in cooperation with Münchner Kammerspiele, Wiener Festwochen and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.
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.
With Didier Eribon Chantal Mouffe, Sibylle Peters, Julia Ramírez-Blanco, Milo Rau, Oliver Ressler, Dana Yahalomi / Public Movement, Jodi Dean, Jonas Staal and many more Curated by Florian Malzacher
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 and Goethe Institut / Performing Architecture
Online Livestream via brut-wien.at
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