Klingen in Hüllen

Die Ankündigung der „performativen Skulptur“ „in-visible“ von Florian Huber als 2. Akt des Stückes „Regeldrama“ ruft die KATASTASE auf, die im antiken griechischen Drama die Bewusstwerdung der Protagonisten bezeichnet, die aufbegehrend zur Erkenntnis kommen und sich schließlich handelnd wiederfinden. So begegnen sie dem Verlust des kindlichen Einvernehmens mit dem Leben, denn als Heranwachsende müssen sie sich nunmehr Tod und Gewalt stellen und erfahren Schmerzen.

Huber hat ein Bild dafür gefunden, das er als Installation mit 30 Meter S-Draht aufgebaut hat. Seine Aktion verändert diesen mit messerscharfen Klingen bewehrten spiralig ausziehbaren Draht mit Schafsdarm. Geduldig schiebt er Meter um Meter des für die Wurstherstellung gereinigten Dünndarms zunächst auf ein Stück Schlauch, mit dessen Hilfe er das zarte aber unglaublich feste Gewebe schließlich um den klingenbewehrten Draht zieht.

Florian Huber, KATASTASE (performative Skulptur), 2025 Kunst und Kultur e.V., Hamburg, Foto: johnicon @VG Bild-Kunst

Martialische Sperren

Durch die Aktion wird der Draht umhüllt und seine Gefährlichkeit zumindest symbolisch reduziert. Das ist der Befund, doch hat das Stück heute weitgehende Implikationen, weil es in einem Europa spielt, in dem die einige Jahrzehnte offenen Grenzen im vermehrten Maß wieder geschlossen werden. Wer an den messerscharfen Klingen hängen bleibt, riskiert beim Versuch, solche martialischen Absperrung zu überwinden, sich im federnden Draht immer stärker zu verheddern und schließlich zu verbluten.

Der Logik des Stückes und der Technologie des Drahts folgend umhüllt der Darm die scharfen Zacken real und dämpft zumindest symbolisch ihre Schärfe. Doch lässt sich im Draht, der mit dem transparenten tierischen Gewebe symbolisch-wahnwitzig gebändig wird, im Hinblick auf die Menschen und Gemeinwesen, die sich dahinter verschanzen, auch eine weitere Aussage lesen. Es zeigt sich das Selbstbild derjenigen, die sich einzäunen. Die Einheger, die sich von Schmerz, ja sogar von Unbequemlichkeit, befreien wollen, vermeiden es offensichtlich, sich der Katastase zu stellen und versuchen so das eigene Erwachsenwerden zu umgehen. Daher muss denen, die sich hinter Drahtverhauen verschanzen, eine narzisstische Störung unterstellt werden. Sie wollen ihrer kindlichen Bruchlosigkeit nicht entwachsen und versuchen diejenigen aufzuhalten, die erwachsen genug sind, um zu handeln. Diese versuchen unerträglichen Verhältnissen zu entkommen und werfen sich wie die jungen Helden des antiken Dramas in die Welt. Auf ihrer Flucht haben sie schon bewiesen, dass sie mit solchen Hindernissen fertig werden können, was natürlich die Furcht derer, die sich in ihrer EXPOSITION (1. Akt von „Regeldrama“) einigeln, noch erhöht.

Zeitdimension der Aktion

Das Besondere des Stücks ist die Dauer der Handlung, die sich in ihrer handwerklichen Einfachheit dem Zuschauenden schon nach einem Durchgang erschlossen hat. Dennoch blieben die meisten Anwesenden, allein um dem Künstler beizustehen oder um den Fortgang der Aktion zu gewährleisten. Eine stille Anfeuerung vielleicht für eine Fortsetzung

Florian Huber, KATASTASE (performative Skulptur), 2025 Kunst und Kultur e.V., Hamburg, Foto: johnicon @VG Bild-Kunst

des Tuns, das man langweilig nennen könnte, wenn es nicht eine Aufgabe enthalten hätte, wie z.B. über das Gesehene nachzudenken. Dabei ist die Zeit nicht unerheblich, die uns im Alltag offensichtlich so oft fehlt und der man auch im Theater kaum begegnet, wo es immer Schlag auf Schlag gehen muss. Hier wird eben die Symbolik, von der man meint, dass sie eine Kurzform ist, zu einer Langform: Die Durchführung des Symbols – also des Drahts durch den Darm – erwies sich als ausgesprochen langwierig und veränderte so auch den Symbolbegriff hin zum Erkenntnisakt, der wiederum in der Vorstellung einer konkreten leiblichen Handlung einen äußerst scharfen Schmerz evozieren könnte.

Trotz allem leben wir heute nicht mehr in der Antike und wollen das Schauspiel der Folter nicht geboten bekommen, weshalb Künstler Möglichkeiten wie diese Performance ersinnen. Sie arbeiten daran, wenn auch symbolisch, den Schmerz zu bezwingen. Doch ist das nur ein weiterer Hinweis darauf, dass er uns in welcher Weise auch immer, weiter quält.

Die Aktion fand statt am 13. 10. 2017 im 2025 Kunst und Kultur e.V. Ruhrstrasse 88  (Im Hinterhof, gr. zweispurige Toreinfahrt, bis zum Ende durchgehen), 22761 Hamburg.      Dort wird am 20.10. von 20-23 h Retardation, der 3. Teil des Stückes „Regeldrama“ (in 4 Teilen) gezeigt.

Under the Surface of Intellectuals (on PSi #23, Part 3 of 3)

Keynotes of leading intellectuals like Vandana Shiva, Tim Etchells, Carolin Emcke, Didier Eribon and Avital Ronell opened the Performance Studies international conference #23 to a general audience of Kampnagel and of Theater der Welt hosted also in Hamburg this year.

a)     Things Disappear or do not Fit Anymore

Tim Etchells read from manuscripts of his new book. Among the flow of observation in streets I enjoyed his reflections on 35 years of Forced Entertainment in which he discovered flow as well as containment. The latter word nicely contrasted to entertainment. I cherished that he mentioned the reuse of props, equipment and tools which were kept from previous performances. But unexpectedly all these items in case they are still available would not represent an overflow or material reserve. In contrary Etchell said, that every piece being reused would require a restart as well as a new piece and every performance of the repertoire in a new space.

b)     Between Shame and Hate

Emcke and Eribon described escape as trouble which was initiated by their decision to leave their familiar background to become intellectuals. Both put it in relation to shame, which they suffered also because of their sexual orientation. While Eribon referred to the social class background of his family and childhood-milieu, Emcke said that the communication of her decision to become an intellectual to her “upper-middle-class” family was more shameful, while being gay reward her with pleasures, compensating for that shame. In contrast to this Eribon felt that the repression his working-class family enforced on him because of his sexual orientation deeply hurt his feelings, while his intellectual career helped him to seek distance. Thus it became an act of emancipation, although he could never fully separate the private and public spheres. According to Eribon the refusal of society to accept and discuss the term social class anymore would not help to understand the problem. He said that the workers of his hometown Reims had lost their pride, when steel- and car-companies closed down their plants.

Unfortunately the podium did not approach what the title of the podium “Beyond the New Hate” announced. In this context it is important to understand that not only did coal and steel based industries create the fundaments of the wealth of Europe but steel workers and miners also formed a political nucleus of the European Union. It was established to coordinate the European Steel- and Carbon-industries internationally. The mining industries also were the foundations for the car- and machine-industries and have established European worker-participation. So it is no wonder that the steel and coal-crises, which escalated in the 1980s, became a crisis of Europe and separated the worker-elite from the political union of Europe.

Avital Ronell dancing when audience entered the space. Photographed by johnicon

c)      Avital Ronell on “twitterature and shitterature”

The crisis of the mining-industry was also a major issue in Donald Trump’s campaign. He took advantage of it addressing voters from the “rust-belt”, however without concepts in a heated world. This is no excuse for “mistweating” and “buffoonery”, which was addressed by Avital Ronell on Sunday-morning, when her lecture “Mistweated: On Civic Grievance” rivaled the sermon of churchgoers, as she puts it with Karl Kraus. Referring to an aggressive and sadistic behavior of the Potus, who is also known as a man being proud of “grabbing” women “by” instead of at the pussy. That provoked to ask for the nature of the object that is grabbed “by”? Is it the reel of the gangway of the big airplanes Trump fiercely holds, when descending. Trump fears descending and strangely feels also menaced by his German origin in third generation and pretends to have ancestry in Sweden instead. This should have helped him to avoid bad manners, encouraging bad behavior in political culture. (Theatre can educate about the tragic rise of protagonists such as Aturo Ui in: “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” by Bert Brecht; added by the author) Ronell said that she felt attracted by the banner in front of the Kampnagel-doors welcoming refugees. Those who lost their homes and existence have to be welcomed every day, she remembered from her ancestors who found exile in America. She told that the book and the light of enlightenment in the hands of the mighty female Statue of Liberty encouraged her during her childhood. Later however she got to know that Franz Kafka – in his novel “Amerika” – had envisioned the Statue with a sword in her hands.

Have a look at the photograph of “Überfluss II” correspondence between Ric Allsopp and the author in: Performance Research 2(1), pp 31-33, 1997, p 33

Performance Research 2 (1) 1997, p33

Culturally Transformed Industrial Location for PSi #23 (part 1 of 3)

A Conference titled OVERFLOW from June 8 to 11, 2017 at Kampnagel in Hamburg

Impressions and Observations (Part 1)

The Kampnagelfabrik, which is the venue for dance-, music- and theatrical performances, was a factory that produced cranes for the port until the 1970s. After it was closed artists squatted the building and evolved various cultural activities there. This all happened when ports were transformed worldwide by the innovation of containers, which required a complete revision of the logistic scheme. When housing the annual conference of Performance Studies international, one can also realize the effects of economic change on education in the actual phase of globalization, when knowledge becomes a part of profit oriented circulation of goods and services too. However the good thing that cultural knowledge also has faces bodies and minds, which can be met and experienced during conferences and festivals like OVERFLOW from June 8 to 11 in Hamburg. Probably there are hardly other fields than those of the arts, dance, theatre, music, ritual and play as well as public performances in which cultural experience and expertise are represented and kept over the centuries.

The Foyer of Kampnagel during the Conference,
photographed by johnicon

PSi is a unique organization in which ideally practitioners of various fields of the performing arts meet academics of the theatre-faculties from the leading universities of the world. That fuels conflicts with institutions, which undergo restrictions, imposed by the neo-liberal management of universities. These were discussed right away on a Friday panel, which took place next to another one, where information on activism and performances in the overflowing City of Hong Kong was given. There students, intellectuals and artists fight for freedom which they have to defend against the requirements of capital and the circulation of commodities.

An opportunity to participate in a rich field of experiences in practice and research

The title of this conference is a metaphor describing the situation of the rich countries that profit from the exploitation of labor, agricultural and natural resources of the world, but you can also read it in a different way as the gifts, which are provided by the possibilities one has, when growing up on the sunny side of the word. Overflow can also be given to somebody for example through his or her intellectual and physical qualities, which enable a person to lead a full and happy life or resist stress and unrest.

Overflow in terms of affluence as well as spill can also be poisonous and destructive. Power and wrong decisions can destroy people’s lives, nature and social stability. Streams of money are used to exploit the resources thus helping to establish a corrupt ruling-class like in Kongo and Nigeria. On the other hand overflow is created by culture in Europe these days, when the documenta 14 at Kassel and Athens. Also the Skulpturen-Projekte Münster are opened simultaneously and in addition to the Venice Biennale and the Theater der Welt in Hamburg. Those who have the resources and permits to travel can visit the presentation of works of a chosen number of creative people from all over the world. This is also true for the program of PSi #23. Every day the participants of the conference can browse through 70 titles of presentations of papers, lectures, performances, panel-discussions or workshops, and have to decide, which one to attend. Disciplined enough you sit in one out of 10 contributions of ideas, knowledge and research, ranging from artistic to cultural, political and economic topics, from personal to conceptual as well as to life acts and performances representing in itself the flow if not an overflow of human struggle with reality and the results of cultural procession of it. For those who feel that the earth is too small Maaike Bleeker and Felipe Cervera offered a 4 hour lasting session hosting a series of lecturers, who explored the possibilities of space such as Planetary Performance Theory, theatrical events on the popularization of research in astronomy (Kurt Vanhoutte), Soviet Sci-Fi-Movies (Natalija Maysova), Performances of the Leap Second (Sara Morawetz), Kinetic Theatre during a Parabolic Flight (Janez Janša), a hypnotic flight to the moon (Nahum) and more.

But what means theatre today and what conditions do we find down on the earth especially in countries endangered by restrictions of the free speech and movement like in Turkey, Hongkong, Poland, not to speak about the dangers by losing once job or terror and crime. As it has been possible for me to visit only a small segment of the affluence of thoughts, ideas, results of research and elaborated papers I have to beg the pardon of all those, who came to Kampnagel to speak and present their papers and PowerPoints and are not mentioned here.

Kampnagel Campus, photographed by johnicon

However I will try to convey my observations as an essay on what I have listening to and experienced personally in encountering participants of the conference. So please take the excerpts that have been chosen as a possible whole. It is a subjective collection of a choice I made according to personal preferences as well as by coincidence. What I personally have experienced as a gift is a growing trust in each other to share knowledge, experience and expertise in the field, that has grown over decades and has its points of contact in many countries on 4 continents – and we still missing Africa, although the continent is present in many contributions reflecting the implications of the refugee-crises and post-colonial politics!

Hamburg is lucky to have hosted this conference at such an impressive place. The link to art history however is missing. It was represented by Aby Warburg, who included contemporary pagan rituals and festivals into the focus of his research of images to understand Renaissance. The Kunstwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg was founded in 1925, a few 100 meters away from the venue of the conference. It was saved from loss in London exile in 1933 and was re-institutionalized as a copy and research-institution after 1993 in the renovated Warburg-building in Hamburg. Unfortunately this promising link to Performance Studies was cut by those who are responsible for the division of the faculties at the University.

More records are prepared to follow soon!