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ICE FLOE. The institutional issue. Crossroads between Eastern Europe and the River Plate region (Montevideo, Uruguay)

May 19, 2017

ICE FLOE
THE INSTITUTIONAL ISSUE
Crossroads between Eastern Europe and the River Plate region

ArtLeaks, Azra Akšamija, Aldo Baroffio y Soledad Bettoni, Carlos Capelán, Graciela Carnevale, Andreas Fogarasi, Liljana Gjuzelova y Sašo Stanojkovik, Hungry Artists Foundation, Jusuf Hadžifejzović, Lea Lublin, Dalibor Martinis, Paula Massarutti, Ivan Moudov, Dan Perjovschi, Lia Perjovschi, Tadej Pogačar, Mariana Tellería, Pablo Uribe y Leonello Zambon.

National Museum for the Visual Arts, Montevideo (MNAV)
Tomas Giribaldi Av. 2283
Opening: 25th May, 2017

TÉMPANO. El problema de lo institucional. Cruces entre Europa del Este y el Río de la Plata [ICE FLOE. The institutional issue. Crossroads between Eastern Europe and the River Plate region] is a research project produced by Museum of Contemporary Art of Montevideo (MACMO). Its primary objective is to replicate, producing cross-regional dialogues and correspondences, the research and exhibition program Inside Out. Not So White Cube, a project focused on artists and artworks related to the institutional issue (institutional critique, art and institutions, instituent practices, institutionalisms) in Central and South-Eastern Europe led by Alenka Gregorič (artistic director of the City Art Gallery of Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Suzana Milevska (independent curator and theorist based in Macedonia, principle researcher at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy). Inside Out. Not so white cube was presented to the public through exhibitions, publications and open activities in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Belgrade (Serbia) in 2015 and 2016.

ICE FLOE. The institutional issue. Crossroads between Eastern Europe and the River Plate region builds bridges between some of those art practices analyzed by Gregorič and Milevska and similar ones (in their aims, methods or spirit) from the River Plate region of South America. MACMO’s research team (which also integrated students from the National School of Fine Arts from Montevideo) selected 10 artists and collectives from the Inside Out. Not so white cube show held at the City Art Gallery of Ljubljana (September-November, 2015) to be joined by 9 study cases addressing art works and art projects produced by artists from Uruguay and Argentina since the end of the sixties to the present day. Through this corpus, dialogues are established, similar symptoms are distinguished, and absences and differences are discerned, between two contexts of production which are very different in many aspects while sharing a series of common characteristics. The comparative analysis of this repertoire of artistic positions offers us some tools to put exotisms and isolations into question, to produce critical readings, and to construct contexts of interpretation that surpass local and national positions and terminologies.

It is well known that only a small fraction of the mass of an ice floe is visible over the surface of the water: most of it is hidden below. The art works and projects studied by MACMO’s research team deal with artistic institutions focusing on what they hide and conceal. These practices try to demonstrate, through a variety of strategies and methods, the contingency, historicity and calculated nature of what is taken for granted, immutable and non-ideological in art institutions and their behaviors.

Work team:
Curatorship and production: Francisco Tomsich, Eugenia González, Agustina Rodríguez
Montage design: Eugenia González, Agustina Rodríguez, Leonello Zambon
Translations: Francisco Tomsich
Collaboration: Laura Outeda, Mauricio Rodríguez, May Puchet, Cecilia Sánchez

ICE-FLOE-Gif-1

ArtLeaks has prepared specially for the exhibition Ice Floe. The Institutional Issue, a new edition of the ArtLeaks Wall Newspaper where you can read a selection of ArtLeaks cases in ArtLeaks Wall Newspaper #3 (Spanish) and ArtLeaks Wall Newspaper #3 (English). You can also download ArtLeaks Wall Newspaper #2 (English) in PDF format.

Join the action ‘Countdown’ for a more socially responsible dance centre (Zagreb, Croatia)

May 8, 2017

Long-term attempts of the Zagreb dance scene to organise a public dance centre which would be managed transparently and responsibly once again became relevant a year ago. That was the moment when Milan Bandić, the mayor of Zagreb, put the Zagreb Dance Centre under the management of the Zagreb Youth Theatre “behind the closed doors”, based on political eligibility. With this decision, the city government privatised the only spatial and production resource for dance in Zagreb for the second time (the first time being in 2009), this time allegedly because of expense rationalisation.

Owing to this decision, today the management, staffing, programming and financing of dance in the Zagreb Dance Centre is carried out by a single person – the director of the Zagreb Youth Theatre – who runs both functions based on Mayor’s politics.

This politics favours corruption, clientelism and nepotism instead of transparent and responsible division of public resources. Unfortunately, the Zagreb Dance Centre is one of many examples of how the public resources in Zagreb are used to employ the politically eligible instead of using those resources for wider social interests based on the principle of equal opportunities.

It is our artistic and civic duty to point at socially irresponsible processes of managing public goods. In other words, it is our right and duty to defend the field of dance and artistic labour from this kind of politics by advocating different and more righteous relationships and means of governance. The more we keep silent, close our eyes and censor ourselves before this harmful policy, the more we destroy the future of dance, this city and this country.

That is why we have decided to organise the action Countdown before the upcoming local elections. With this action we wish to point to failures in the city governance once more, and at the same time continue to advocate the autonomy of dance by establishing a public dance institution which will be governed in a transparent and socially responsible way.

The action Countdown will begin with Tjelovanje (eng. Bodying), a 24-hour long protest action in St. Mark’s Square and continue with a workshop for the dance community and everybody interested, while for the final event we will have a round table focusing on the topics of the Zagreb Dance Centre and managing public spaces in the city.

We invite yout to join us and actively participate in all these events.

The dance community and citizens boycotting the Zagreb Dance Centre

 

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

 

02/05/2017 @ 10AM – 03/05/2017 @ 10h St. Mark’s Square

Tjelovanje, 24-hour long action

You think you’re not a dancer? Don’t worry, everybody is welcome and everybody’s dance is equally important!

+++ directions +++

We invite all dancers and those who wish to participate in any way to sign up in the calendar. Signing up for shifts (the time you can spend on the square) enables us to have an overview of the 24-hour rotation, or rather, the attempt to perform a 24-hour long, uninterrupted protest dance at the St. Mark’s Square.

One day before the action takes place we will define the exact rotation (the proposal is to be in the rotation for 60 minutes). You can perform the rotation alone, in pair or in a group, or you can join someone spontaneously. Count on the possibility of others joining you too. Also, keep in mind that you can sign up to be on duty for those who are performing. This means you are keeping an eye on those who are performing  and you are ready to react in case reporters or the police show up. If you wish to document the action, please bring your own devices.

Before the action begins, we will address the reporters with a press release. In case the reporters ask for a statement during the action, those on duty will repeat the same press release.

09/05/2017 @ 5PM-8PM Ilica 10, courtyard of the Zagreb Dance Centre

What kind of dance centre do we want?

A workshop for the dance community and everybody interested.

11/05/2017 @ 11AM Tuškanac 1, Cinema Tuškanac

Round table with candidates for the mayor’s office and their representatives, moderated by Nataša Govedić and Zdravko Popović.

 

Press about the events (in Serbo-Croatian)

Prosvjedni ples ili plesni prosvjed na Markovom trgu:
24 sata plesa za javni plesni centar
http://tris.com.hr/2017/04/prosvjedni-ples-ili-plesni-prosvjed-na-markovom-trgu-24-sata-plesa-za-javni-plesni-centar/

Ništa bez repertoara: Umjetnost kazališta počinje od autorskog, a ne komercijalnog programa
http://www.novilist.hr/Kultura/Kazaliste/Nista-bez-repertoara-Umjetnost-kazalista-pocinje-od-autorskog-a-ne-komercijalnog-programa

Plesom protiv neodgovornog upravljanja javnim gradskim resursima
http://www.h-alter.org/vijesti/plesom-protiv-neodgovornog-upravljanja-javnim-gradskim-resursima

‘Oni koji danas upravljaju plesnim centrom ne odgovaraju nikome osim politici’
https://www.tportal.hr/kultura/clanak/oni-koji-danas-upravljaju-plesnim-centrom-ne-odgovaraju-nikome-osim-politici-20170502

Za društveno odgovorniji centar
http://www.kulturpunkt.hr/content/za-drustveno-odgovorniji-centar?quicktabs_abeceda_i_kinemaskop=1

Počeo 24-satni prosvjed plesnih umjetnika na Gornjem gradu
http://vijesti.hrt.hr/386184/poceo-24-satni-prosvjed-plesnih-umjetnika-na-gornjem-gradu

Protestna akcija „Tjelovanje”
https://www.teatar.hr/207636/protestna-akcija-tjelovanje/

GORNJI GRAD Počeo 24-satni prosvjed plesnih umjetnika
http://www.nacional.hr/gornji-grad-poceo-24-satni-prosvjed-plesnih-umjetnika/

Plesni prosvjed ispred Gradske skupštine
http://www.prvi.hr/antenazagreb-zagreb/vijesti-antena/plesni-prosvjed-ispred-gradske-skupstine

Tjelovanje – akcija za Zagrebački plesni centar
http://www.monitor.hr/vijesti/tjelovanje-akcija-za-zagrebacki-plesni-centar/375770/

RTL Vijesti
http://www.vijesti.rtl.hr/video/vijesti/163033/prosvjed-plesom-u-zagrebu-24-sata-plesa-ispred-gradske-skupstine-u-znak-prosvjeda-zbog-nacina-upravljanja-zagrebom/

Tjelovanje: Protiv neodgovornog upravljanja javnim gradskim resursima
https://www.libela.org/vijesti/8652-tjelovanje-protiv-neodgovornog-upravljanja-javnim-gradskim-resursima/

Sustavno zanemarivanje plesa
http://www.kulturpunkt.hr/content/sustavno-zanemarivanje-plesa

 

TELEVIsion:

HTV Vijesti iz kulture (2./3.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

HTV1, Hrvatska uživo (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

RTL vijesti (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Z1 televizija, Vijesti (5.5.) – snimka na linku (gledati od 3:57) https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Jabuka TV, Serbus Zagreb (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

 

RADIO:

Hrvatski radio 3, Na kraju tjedna s Anom Kreitmeyer, ZPC tema od 0:26:50, ali poslušajte sve, lijep je razgovor

http://radio.hrt.hr/ep/na-kraju-tjedna/207149/

Antena Zagreb, Antena 60 minuta (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Antena Zagreb, Zagrebačke vijesti (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Radio Sljeme, Zagrebački dnevnik (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Hrvatski radio, Dnevne novosti (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Prvi radio, Zg vijesti (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Enter Zagreb, Vijesti (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Radio Martin, Zagrebačke vijesti (2.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Radio Yammat, Selo moje mało (3.5.) – snimka na linku https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

Hrvatski radio 1, Katapultura (5.5.) – snimka na link

https://we.tl/pjwji4dwCE

 

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PETITION FOR THE AUTONOMY OF ZAGREB DANCE CENTER (Zagreb, Croatia)

March 7, 2017

//EN

The Zagreb Dance Center is the only venue in Croatia designed and meant exclusively for contemporary dance. In it dance pieces are created and performed.  It hosts many workshops and residencies by Croatian and foreign choreographers. It is the place where children learn to dance and learn to love dance.  Last year alone it was home to one hundred and fifteen dance programs and it was visited by ten thousand people.

The renovation of Zagreb Dance Center was carefully planned, the Center was equipped and, in October 2009, it was ceremonially opened. The City of Zagreb invested thirty six million kuna from its budget, so it remains unclear why on April 6th 2016 the Mayor of Zagreb made a questionable decision and allocated the premises to the Zagreb Youth Theatre. Is another public investment in Zagreb taken so lightly?

Almost every art form in the City of Zagreb has its own institution. Dance has none.  Why the Mayor made this problematic decision and robbed the contemporary dance scene of its only work space is not clear. Since 2010 until today, projects realized in coproduction with the dance center have been hosted internationally three hundred and twelve times and visited forty different states and five different continents so why is the success of our dance scene not taken seriously?

In this precise moment, when the first generation of the newly founded Zagreb University Dance Studies program is about to graduate (the program educates 12 students of dance and dance pedagogy a year), it is a mystery why the Mayor insists on this controversial decision and thus denies dance artists the possibility of further professional development and work.

The annexation of Zagreb Dance Center to the Zagreb Youth Theatre means the loss of autonomy for contemporary dance. Despite the fact that the city officials claim that nothing will change for dancers, mechanisms that would make sure the original purpose of the space be respected and that would secure its financing are not mentioned anywhere and they are non-existent. There is no mention of the Centre’s future employees or the funding needed to keep the Zagreb Dance Centre programs and activities alive. We wonder whether the city officials think it possible to work under such circumstances. 

It is our opinion that Zagreb Dance Center must remain a venue primarily intended for contemporary dance and that it should be run by experts in the field of contemporary dance. It is the City’s duty to care for public goods and not serve the interests of individuals, commercialization and the privatization of public spaces.

By signing this petition you support our efforts to keep Zagreb Dance Center autonomous. Thank you!

KEEP DANCE AUTONOMOUS!

Sign here: https://www.change.org/p/grad-zagreb-autonomija-plesu-keep-dance-autonomous

____________________________________________________________________

 

//SH

PETICIJA ZA AUTONOMIJU ZAGREBAČKOG PLESNOG CENTRA

Zagrebački plesni centar je jedini prostorni resurs u Republici Hrvatskoj namijenjen isključivo suvremenom plesu. U njemu se stvaraju i igraju plesne predstave. U njemu se održavaju radionice i istraživački projekti s domaćim i stranim koreografima. U njemu djeca uče plesati i voljeti ples. U njemu je prošle godine održano 115 plesnih programa koje je posjetilo 10.000 ljudi.

Prostor Zagrebačkog plesnog centra je planski obnovljen i opremljen, te svečano otvoren u listopadu 2009. godine. U njega je uloženo 36 milijuna kuna iz javnog proračuna Grada pa ostaje nejasno zašto gradonačelnik Grada Zagreba 6. travnja 2016. donosi odluku kojom prostor Zagrebačkog plesnog centra daje na korištenje Zagrebačkom kazalištu mladih. Zar se još jedna javna investicija u Gradu Zagrebu shvaća tako olako?

Gotovo sve grane umjetnosti imaju svoje ustanove u gradu Zagrebu. Plesna umjetnost svoju nema pa ostaje nejasno zašto gradonačelnik Grada Zagreba spornom odlukom suvremenom plesu oduzima i jedini prostorni resurs za rad. Zar se uspjesi domaće suvremene plesne scene u Gradu Zagrebu shvaćaju tako olako (od 2010. godine do danas kroz infrastrukturu Zagrebačkog plesnog centra ostvareno je 312 međunarodnih gostovanja u 40 različitih država na 5 kontinenata)?

U trenutku kad stasa prva generacija diplomanata novootvorenog sveučilišnog studija za suvremeni ples, s 12 diplomiranih plesača i pedagoga godišnje, ostaje nejasno zašto gradonačelnik Grada Zagreba spornom odlukom plesnim umjetnicima uskraćuje mogućnost za daljnje usavršavanje i profesionalan rad.

Pripajanjem Zagrebačkog plesnog centra Zagrebačkom kazalištu mladih suvremeni ples gubi svoju autonomiju. Unatoč tome što u Gradu tvrde da se ništa neće promijeniti, ne spominju se mehanizmi zaštite niti financiranja kojima će se osigurati nastavak prvobitne namjene prostora. Ne spominju se niti zaposlenici niti programska sredstva potrebna za nastavak rada. Zar Grad misli da je moguće raditi u takvim uvjetima?

Smatramo da Zagrebački plesni centar treba ostati namijenjen prvenstveno suvremenom plesu, da njime trebaju upravljati stručne osobe iz područja suvremenog plesa te da je Grad dužan voditi brigu o javnom dobru ne podilazeći partikularnim interesima, komercijalizaciji i privatizaciji javnog prostora.

Potpisujući ovu peticiju podržavate naše napore da Zagrebački plesni centar zadrži svoju autonomiju. Hvala Vam!

AUTONOMIJA PLESU!

https://www.change.org/p/grad-zagreb-autonomija-plesu-keep-dance-autonomous

______________________________________________________________________

 

 

Members of the Dance Association of Croatia gathered at the convocation held on 22 January 2017 have decided with majority of votes to start a symbolic boycott of the Zagreb Dance Centre, that is, to collectively boycott the call for applying for reruns of performances, as well as the boycott of the announced call for residential programs of the Zagreb Dance Centre and are inviting other members of the Association to join them.

Members do not accept the lousy and unprofessional working conditions which the Zagreb Dance Centre is currently offering dance artists and collaborators, and because of, as stated many times before, the non-transparency of the decision-making process that regulated the current management of the space.

The announced boycott will begin on Monday, 30 January 2017 and will last 90 days during which we as artistic and professional community will continue to demand the establishment of an independent institution for dance in public-civil partnership, ask for equal participation of all stakeholders and independent professional bodies in decision-making about the ZPC as a common good and capital resource for our work and insist on improving the general, individual and collective working conditions.

 

Read more (in Croatian only):

http://www.plesnascena.hr/index.php?p=article&id=2010

Facebook Page:

Keep Dance Autonomous

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OPEN REPLY Re: open letter regarding the planned discussion panel on “The New Avant Garde” (Zurich, Switzerland)

March 7, 2017

Bern, 26 February 2017

Dear open letter authors,

I was astonished to read your letter of 24 February 2017, particularly since it was preceded neither by dialogue nor any other form of exchange between us. In it, you take issue not only with the panel discussion on the “The New Avant Garde” which we plan to hold at the Theater Gessnerallee in Zurich, but also with me personally. That is why I would like respond personally. In your letter, you go so far as to accuse me of paying “homage to the opponent ”, because, during a debate, I asked the AfD’s Marc Jongen whether the new nationalists and right-wing conservatives “didn’t see liberalism in the same way the wolf in the Grimm’s fairy tale saw the chalk [i.e. as a means of making themselves more acceptable]?”

I am one of the most determined critics of Marc Jongen, as my numerous articles clearly demonstrate (see list below). My work as an art scholar, journalist, critic and musician is opposed to every form of ideology, self righteousness, blinkered thinking, discrimination and violence, be it from the right or the left, from the (supposedly) conservative or the (supposedly) progressive end of the political spectrum.

Unlike many of my fellow critics, however, I am convinced that the debate with parties such as the AfD must be conducted in public and face-to-face. What progress would we achieve if we took the view that that we can only lose in public debate with the AfD and that they can only win? Do we really believe that our arguments are that weak? I am convinced that the opposite is true. The fact that Germany’s media originally refused to take the AfD on directly did not make them disappear. Instead, it strengthened the party and enabled them to propagate the comfortable myth that they are the victims.

Taking their cue from its most vociferous and radical politicians, the AfD’s critics portray it as a closed, monolithic, populist political block. An alternative approach would be to attempt to identify the differing points of view which exist within the party. Then, by demonstrating how these diverging positions cannot be reconciled, it might be possible to weaken and split the AfD. The question is not whether the AfD should be opposed, but rather how it should be done.

Opinions on my attitude and approach may differ. There can however be no disagreement that distortion and defamation have no place in civilised debate. Yet it is to precisely those methods that you resort in your open letter. You abbreviate statements, tear them from their original context and reproduce them incorrectly.  You suppress countless criticisms I have made in my dialogue with Jongen, while at the same time selecting a few ambivalent points which you then present in a manner which gives them the appearance of acts of fraternisation. These are strategies with which I am only too familiar from my disputes with right-wing populists. How ironic it is, not to say tragic, that their “opponents” are now using these same techniques.

Referring to the debate between Jongen and myself published in the Schweizer Monat in 2016, you insinuate that both I and the AfD member – contrary to what you say in your letter, Jongen is not an “AfD politician”, at least not yet, because he holds no political office – share the same views on “gender mainstreaming”. What I in fact explicitly wrote in the dialogue was this: “When it comes to genuinely liberal causes such as “marriage for all”, it soon becomes apparent how liberal right-wing conservatives really are. Their liberalism may extend to economic policy, but it does not reach as far as social policy. That is why a little more California would be welcome!” As is well known, California permits same-sex marriage.

I do however have to say that I find the term “gender mainstreaming” problematical per se. In a progressive context, the term “mainstream” has negative connotations, and for good reason. It also provides a golden opportunity for reactionary points of view to appropriate avant garde and subculture credentials for their invective. That is why I believe unambiguous terms such as “emancipation”, “equal rights” or “equality” are better suited to the progressive cause.

You go on to say that I have a “distaste for political correctness”, whereas I explicitly referred to “exaggerated political correctness” in what I wrote. Here again, I identify with the objectives on which the term is based – tolerance, respect and openness. However I regard the expression itself as unusable, as indeed do many on the left. It is above all the exaggerated use of the term which prevents differentiated debate. That and the fact that it is used far too often by all sides as a means of ending any debate at all.

I also write that although I would gladly lend my support to the criticism of repressive tolerance, I cannot do so. Why? Because while the idea originates from Marcuse in another context, it has now been appropriated by the reactionary side of the debate. You, on the other hand, tear my statement from its context and distort the meaning of my words by quoting only part of the sentence. My actual criticism was that “any resentment, no matter how crude or reactionary, of such criticism [of political correctness and repressive tolerance] is always glossed over.”

Last but not least you refer to overlaps in the criticism of the status quo between left and right, conservatives and progressives. Yet nobody can seriously dispute that such overlaps do indeed exist – see Sahra Wagenknecht and the refugee policy, see the willingness of extremists on both left and right to resort to violence, see the gratitude with which neoliberalism has espoused post-structuralist ideas, see Stephen Bannon’s references to Lenin or the parallels between Mao and Trump so brilliantly illustrated by Geremie R. Barmé, to name but a few examples. Anyone who chooses to ignore all that has condemned themselves to a dangerous form of modern gnosis.

This is not the place to consider the multiple meanings of the term avant garde. That would only open up an academic debate. However, your letter contains one statement on this issue which I find more than questionable – and that is your view that the common denominator linking the major avant garde movements and concepts of the early 20th century – which include such heterogeneous movements as dadaism, expressionism, suprematism and futurism – was “a communist utopia”. The unfortunate fact is that nobody has a monopoly on the avant garde.

Your open letter clearly illustrates how opponents in a struggle assimilate each other’s attributes. Rather than considering my arguments carefully, you disparage me and my efforts to resist the rising power of authoritarian and reactionary forces. Those efforts always go hand in hand with public confrontation, self criticism and the, admittedly painful, search for the reasons why progressive (left-wing) forces are being weakened and weaken themselves.

With greetings,

Jörg Scheller

List of links to articles containing references to the AfD:

http://www.zeit.de/2016/03/afd-partei-ideologie-philosoph-marc-jongen

https://www.schweizermonat.ch/artikel/online-spezial-ueber-zustaende-die-wiederherzustellen-sind

http://joergscheller.de/blog/dialog-mit-paul-stephan-ueber-die-oekonomische-dimension-des-rechtsrucks-die-defizite-des-linksliberalismus-den-verrat-der-linkskonservativen-und-die-fossilierung-der-postmoderne-nebst-einigen-bemerkungen-zu-vielem-anderen/

http://joergscheller.de/blog/dialog-mit-christopher-kriese-ueber-den-wahlsieg-donald-trumps/

http://joergscheller.de/blog/afd-ehre-wem-erhard-gebuehrt/

http://joergscheller.de/blog/sloterdijk-amp-hoecke-brothers-in-harms/

http://joergscheller.de/blog/die-luege-meines-feindes-ist-luege-die-luege-meines-freundes-ist-wahrheit/

http://joergscheller.de/blog/afd-debatte-es-darf-schmutzig-werden/

http://joergscheller.de/blog/luegenpresse-rufer-der-donnergott-wird-s-nicht-richten/

Open letter against giving AfD a stage in Zurich theatre

March 1, 2017

OPEN LETTER

Dear Gessnerallee Team, dear organizers of the upcoming discussion panel “The New Avant-Garde” on March 17th, 2017,

You have decided to invite the AfD [Alternative for Germany] politician Marc Jongen to sit on the panel of your event “The New Avant-Garde”. In your announcement of the event, you describe him (in keeping with his own self-description) as being “avantgard-conservative” (sic.) From the early 20th century on, the term ‘avant-garde’ – originally of military origin – came to describe – both in the arts, as well as in politics – a radical severance from tradition and a concept of progress, mainly expressed in blueprints of a communist utopia. The many reasons behind attempts by the extreme right to appropriate this term are not addressed by the constellation of the panel. Even worse: the term is simply handed over. Thus uncommented, it takes on a dangerous appeal for those with little political experience, radical chic.

Marc Jongen is one of the most sophisticated speakers (demagogues) in ranks of the AfD. To place him on a panel and speak of an “experiment”, demonstrates naivety. His application of Sloterdijk’s political-psychological experiment Rage and Time (2006) in the AfD has been carefully planned for years and is ideologically firmly ingrained. Beyond any ostensible analysis, it has already become a clear guideline for action – every time a theatre event is disturbed, every attack on a leftist bookstore, every burning refugee shelter is an applied case of “rage politics” legitimized by this very discourse.

What exactly are the “rage politics” of the AfD? For Jongen – as for Sloterdijk – “thymos” stands for rage, pride, and courage. This ideology not only sheds an entirely different light on a wide range of direct rage politics within the right-wing extremist movements, e.g. Pegida street fighting, “subversive activity” (a term originally coined by the SDS – Socialist German Student Union, later adopted by Götz Kubitschek), “aesthetic intervention” (a likewise previously leftist term adopted into the jargon of the “Identitarians”), it also permeates representative party politics – thus bringing both sides together. Jongen’s “superstructure” aims to merge both extra-parliamentary and internal parliamentary “thymotic energies”. Just recently, Jongen spoke at Kubitschek’s “Institute for State Policy” (IfS) about a lack of “thymos tension”, when he argued in favor of “civil disobedience”. Do we really want to wait and see which strategies this “rage rationalizer of the AfD” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) recommends next when placed on a panel about the avant-garde?

The list of examples of how this “thymotic energy” is seeping into culture, is currently growing longer and longer. The AfD has called for a cultural-political “turn of memory” towards romanticism, an “era, in which we Germans came into our own” (AfD-member of the parliament in Saxony-Anhalt Hans-Thomas Tillschneider). What this really means for arts and culture in AfD-governed states, becomes evident in the following examples of recent attacks on culture:

– In January 2017, a right-wing mob protested against an art installation by Syrian artist Manaf Halbouni in front of the Frauenkirche in Dresden.

– Recently, four actors and actresses terminated their contracts in Altenburg, among them Ouelgo Téné from Burkina Faso, who played the “Captain of Köpenick”. Reasons given were: right-wing aggression and attacks.

– In November 2016, there was a bomb attack on the Lokomov Cultural Center in Chemnitz, where a theater project was commemorating the murders committed by the NSU (National Socialist Underground). Neonazis had previously also beat up visitors and thrown bags of paint and stones at the building.

– In October 2016, the AfD protested against Kevin Rittberger’s piece “Peak White oder Wirr sinkt das Volk“ in front of the Theater Heidelberg. At the same time, the AfD city council called for six positions in the ensemble to be cut, by posting a photo of Rittberger’s production on Facebook, which featured exactly those six actors on stage.

– In late 2016, the AfD called for a stop of the dance theater project “Das Fremde so nah“ (“The Foreign So Close”) at the Anhaltische Theater in Dessau. The AfD described the production, featuring Syrian and German teenagers and young adults, as a “manipulative theater project” aimed at “driving out and negating the differentiation between own and foreign out of our teenagers” (Gottfried Backhaus, AfD-member of the parliament in Saxony-Anhalt).

The fact that two of the guests invited by the Gessnerallee – both the AfD politician as well as Jörg Scheller, art historian at the ZHDK Zurich – have a partly overlapping analysis, as revealed in prior dispute between them, such as an open distaste for political correctness and what they call “repressive tolerance” (for which they actually used gender mainstreaming as an example) – bodes ill for the direction that the upcoming event may take: the term “repressive tolerance” as used by right-wing politicians not only conceals actual repression, as emanating from an openly racist political party, but also negates and twists the history of the term which dates back to Herbert Marcuse and the leftist movement. What we really need is to reinstate this knowledge and reappropriate the term in order to critically unmask a growing, right-wing conservative to extremist ideology of “security”, discrimination and isolationism. Instead Jongen’s conspiracy theories are granted ample space to rant against “those up there”, leftist liberals and “leftist fascists” – with uncommented links posted online next to the announcement of the event.

The “crucial question” posed by Jörg Scheller: “how do the new nationalist and right-wing conservatives see liberals” is formulated in such a way that it sounds like no more than a homage to the opponent and not worthy of much further consideration. In our opinion the really crucial question is: wouldn’t an institution such as the Gessnerallee probably be first on an AfD list for elimination?

With all this in mind, we call on you and all other theaters and theater makers to not provide a stage for the AfD.

With solidarity towards all, who stand up against hate,

Signed by                                                                               Berlin, 24.2.2017

Kevin Rittberger, Autor und Regisseur, Berlin
Joy Kristin Kalu, Theaterwissenschaftlerin und Kuratorin, Berlin
Alex Karschnia, andcompany&Co, Berlin
Nicola Nord, andcompany&Co, Berlin
Sascha Sulimma, andcompany&Co, Berlin
Florian Thamer, EGfKA, Berlin
Tina Turnheim, EGfKA, Berlin
Konstanze Schmitt, Künstlerin und Regisseurin, Berlin
Simone Dede Ayivi, Theatermacherin, Berlin
Matthias Naumann, Futur II Konjunktiv, Berlin
Elena Polzer, ehrliche arbeit – freies Kulturbüro, Berlin
Sandra Klöss, ehrliche arbeit – freies Kulturbüro, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Ulf Wuggenig, Dekan Fakultät Kulturwissenschaften, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Dr. Cornelia Sollfrank, Künstlerin und Commons-Forscherin, Berlin/ Zürich
Diedrich Diedrichsen, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Wien
Necati Öziri, Autor und Dramaturg, Berlin
Tobias Herzberg, Regisseur und Autor, Berlin/ Zürich
Aljoscha Begrich, Dramaturg, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
Irina Szodruch, Dramaturgin, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
Ludwig Haugk, Leitender Dramaturg, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
Sebastian Huber, Leitender Dramaturg, Residenztheater München
Holger Bergmann, Kurator, Ruhrgebiet/ Berlin
Sandra Umathum, Professorin für Theaterwissenschaft und Dramaturgie, Berlin
Falk Richter, Autor und Regisseur, Berlin
Dirk von Lowtzow, Musiker, Berlin
Dr. Nanna Lüth, Juniorprofessur Kunstdidaktik/ Geschlechterforschung, UdK Berlin
Sonja Hornung, freie Künstlerin, Berlin
Marc Schäfers, Verleger, Köln
Wolfram Lotz, Schriftsteller, Leipzig
Daniel Richter, Dramaturg, Berliner Festspiele
Tobias Schuster, Leitender Dramaturg, Schauspielhaus Wien
Samuel Weiss, Schauspieler, Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg
Silke Ballath, Kulturagentin für kreative Schulen, Berlin
Veronika Albrandt, Künstlerin/Mathematikerin, Berlin
Rafael Cardoso, Schriftsteller, Berlin
Imanuel Schipper, Dramaturg und Theaterwissenschaftler, Hamburg
Chang Nai Wen, SdF-Sisyphos, der Flugelefant, Berlin
Benny Drechsel, Filmproduzent, Leipzig
Janina Möbius, Theaterwissenschaftlerin und Filmemacherin, Berlin
Johannes Müller, Regisseur, Berlin
Michael Lorber, Theaterwissenschaftler, Berlin
Jörg Albrecht, Schriftsteller, Berlin
Mariama Diagne, M.A., Tanzwissenschaftlerin, Berlin
Julius Heinicke, Kultur- und Theaterwissenschaftler, Berlin
Anna Mareike Holtz, ehrliche arbeit – freies Kulturbüro, Berlin
Katharina Rost, Theaterwissenschaftlerin, Berlin
Hauke Heumann, Schauspieler, Berlin
Gesine Hohmann, Performerin, Duisburg
Olivia Wenzel, Autorin, Berlin
Moritz Gagern, freischaffender Komponist und Dramaturg, Berlin
Jan Deck, Freier Theaterschaffender, Frankfurt/Main
Natascha Siouzouli, Theaterwissenschaftlerin, Berlin
Therese Schmidt, Regisseurin und Autorin, Performing Arts Programm Berlin
Sandra Wrampelmeyer, Soziale Arbeit, Berlin
Janina Benduski, Berlin
Stefan Sahlmann, Berlin
Elke Weber, Kulturmanagerin, Berlin
Kristin Flade, Theaterwissenschaftlerin, Berlin
Lilian Seuberling, Theaterwissenschaftlerin, Berlin
Julia Wolf, Schriftstellerin, Leipzig/Berlin
Lena Mody, Bühnen- und Kostümbildnerin, Berlin
Susanne Foellmer, Tanz- und Theaterwissenschaftlerin, Berlin/Coventry
Karina Rocktäschel, Studierende der Theaterwissenschaft, Berlin
Julian Kamphausen, Kurator, Berlin
Nicola Schmidt, Theaterwissenschaftlerin und Dramaturgin, Berlin
Jens Lüstraeten, Videokünstler, Berlin
Alisa Tretau, Regisseurin, Berlin
Steffen Klewar, Regisseur, copy & waste, Berlin
Sylvia Schwarz, Schauspielerin, Berlin
Nadia Shehadeh, Soziologin, Bielefeld
Antje Prust, Regisseurin und Performerin, Berlin
Katharina Kellermann, Audiokünstlerin Swoosh Lieu, Hamburg
Mariam Soufi Siavash, Theater im Pavillon, Hannover
Veronika Gerhard, Künstlerin und Filmemacherin, Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, Berlin
Dr. Azadeh Sharifi, Theaterwissenschaftlerin, Berlin
Golschan Ahmad Haschemi, Kulturwissenschaftlerin und Performerin, Hannover
Frederik Müller, Regisseur, Autor, Performer (Kollektiv Technocandy), Berlin
Maren Barnikow Kulturwissenschaftlerin, Gera
Maximilian Marcoll, Komponist, Berlin
Steffi Weismann, Künstlerin, Berlin
Julia*n Meding, Theatermacher*in und Musiker*in, Berlin
Maike Tödter, Produktionsleiterin, Hamburg
Ivar Thomas van Urk, Regisseur, Berlin
Michael Wächter, Schauspieler, Theater Basel
Prof. Dr. Steffi Richter, Japanologin, Kyoto-Universität, Japan
Hildegard Bockhorst, Projektreferentin Kulturelle Bildung, Berlin
Anja Kraus, Professorin für Pädagogik, Växjö, Schweden
Rahel Puffert, Kulturwissenschaftlerin und Kunstvermittlerin, Hamburg/Oldenburg
Hugo Holger Busse, Architekt u. Kurator, Berlin
Anne Brammen, Dramaturgin, Berlin
Franziska Rieder, Fotografin, Berlin
Florian Evers, M.A., Theaterwissenschaftler, Berlin
Judith Philipp, Bühnen- und Kostümbildnerin, Berlin
Elsa Lindig, Performerin bei Hysterisches Globusgefühl, Dresden/Berlin
Simke Kalu-Preussner, Hebamme, Oldenburg
Johannes Birlinger, freier Musiker, Berlin/Helsinki
Alexander Ostojski, Performing Arts Festival, Berlin

The list is updated on a regular basis.If you would like to sign, please send your name, occupation, city of the following address: offenerbriefgessnerallee@gmail.com

Translation by Elena Polzer

Baltic Box Case (Newcastle, UK)

February 18, 2017

“It has been over 14 weeks since the BALTIC Trustees were asked to respond to the open letter to the Director. Unfortunately, there has been no response from anyone at BALTIC so the Cc group have made this set of images/slides which have been uploaded to facebook and flickr with an accompanying text for each image.”

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Occupy Museums Anti-Fascist Values Statement for #J20 (New York, USA)

January 20, 2017

via Occupy Museums

January 20th is not a day for business as usual. It is a day of reckoning: a day when we must step back stand together and acknowledge how far we have fallen from the values that we supposedly uphold as individuals, communities, and institutions. At the same time, however, we must recognize that this occasion is exactly business as usual in the United States of America. It would be naive to suggest that the advent of Fascism is representative of one man or one woman or one administration. This moment has finally landed following decades of Reaganomics. It landed after centuries of living in a house with a flawed foundation built on slavery, stolen labor, and bloodshed; maintained through the normalization of systemic injustice. It has landed as the full legitimization of cultural homogenization, techno-militarism and life inside the atomized logic of corporatism. It has landed after the sequestering of money and political agency into fewer and fewer hands. We have become a country of red and blue: a separatist mentality that replays “the people” as demographics, driving wedges between “races,” classes, regions, genders, education levels, and worldviews.

Our values — values fought for tirelessly over the generations, values that we believe to be sacred — have proven to be as fragile as they are precious.

Facing this reality, we bear much responsibility and seize this moment of national coming-into-consciousness as an opportunity. Occupy Museums calls on our communities — in this case artists, cultural practitioners, and institutions — to directly name and confront this truth: we are living in a Fascist State. Fascist propaganda exacerbates the racism and misogyny embedded in our culture for cynical political ends; it is the enemy of art. This can be seen from the new administration’s plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts — a last vestige of truly public support of the arts. Their vision of art is reduced to luxury trappings for oligarchs. Although the same financial sphere that has largely brought us to the current precipice stands behind US museums as their primary means of support, this doesn’t devalue their potency as public spaces and repositories of collective mythologies. Their civic function depends not on philanthropy but on struggle. Museums require artists, activists, and global citizens to challenge them, demanding that they hold true to their missions to serve the public, not just the 1%. That is why on #J20 we invite our communities to join us inside the museum, which we demand function as public space, to declare our common values, to make undeniable our demands, and to render our truths unmediated and unavailable for contortion, interpretation, or abstraction. Then we head out into the streets.

Occupy Museums reflects on the values behind our mission and in solidarity with all arts workers commits to continuing the struggle for the following:

  1. Racism and xenophobia are real and alive today. Misogyny and homophobia are real and alive today. White nationalism is growing in political, economic, and symbolic power. We value cultural institutions who are able to name the severity of this political zeitgeist and join the fight for dismantling white supremacy. We declare that one cannot be neutral on a Fascist train. We commit to joining in efforts to organize an anti-Fascist resistance.
  1. Arts within neoliberal economies have long been stripped of social organizing force and community accountability. We have witnessed a transparent bid to transform art into an asset class for private speculation, upending its political autonomy; art has become a tool of propaganda. As this incoming administration dramatically reduces or eliminates public funding for the arts, museums will be relying solely on compromised private funding. We uphold the value of art and cultural production independent from financial and political coercion, free from appropriation and exploitation.
  1. We reject a culture that ignores or celebrates US war and imperialism. We reject a culture that fetishizes, essentializes, and flattens the layers of our shared reality. Such a culture reflects a shallow politics where sycophantic hype replaces public discourse. We value art that is authentic, layered, diverse, and unafraid of delving into the complexity of our shared experiences. We commit to a struggle against the reign of hegemonic power brokers in the arts and in support of a more committed art and discourse. Museums must move toward greater social justice to be relevant.
  1. Since their inception centuries ago, the collections of art museums have consisted of objects stolen from indigenous and oppressed peoples whose cultures were appropriated and/or decimated to reify whiteness. Even though museums partially embody the democratization of art, they are also sites embedded with white supremacy and patriarchy. We will not separate our appreciation of museums from the ongoing need to shift the power that is codified into this mode of cultural representation. We commit to the ongoing struggle for increased presence of Black and Brown people, immigrants, and women in museum administrations, collections, events, and viewership, and in the return of stolen cultural heritage and objects.
  1. White Nationalist populism thrives from the perceived (and often real) elitism and exclusivity of the “art world.” Yet it is a right for every human being to partake in and benefit from the cultural wealth and heritage composed from our collective history, regardless of economic or social status. We believe that access to cultural institutions should always be free and we commit to a long struggle to take back institutions from the exclusivity of philanthropy and high-ticket-price corporate models.
  1. Economic precarity stemming from the devaluation of labor and increased corporate profits from extractive debts drives a wedge between members of our society, pitting us against each other in ruthless competition. We look to democracies across the globe who affirm the right to a living wage and even a basic income and call on our nation’s cultural institutions to pay all employees, contractors, and exhibiting artists a living wage for their labor.
  1. The transformation of public spaces and our neighborhoods and homes into speculative instruments increases the already dire state of class anxiety. The economic precarity suffered by artists puts them at risk of being both affected by and a catalyst in the gentrification of poor neighborhoods. Cultural institutions play a major role in gentrification that must be addressed; it is imperative that institutions use their cultural and financial capital to support their communities of arts workers and their local publics rather than enable gentrification by participating in development schemes.
  1. Intellectualism and cultural experiment are considered as dangerous and unpatriotic to Fascists. Nazi poet laureate Hanns Johst famously wrote: “Let ’em keep their good distance with their whole ideological kettle of fish … I shoot with live ammunition! When I hear the word culture …, I release the safety on my Browning!” Our cultural institutions must fortify themselves against the coming onslaught by deepening and declaring their commitment to and support of artists, critical discourse, freedom of expression, and their immediate communities. We call on all museums and cultural institutions to stand in solidarity with the artists, art critics, art workers, and public who will not stand by in silence as power is handed over to Fascists. Cultural institutions can begin (as some have already begun) by collectively reassessing their institutions’ statements of ethics, making amendments, addenda, and revisions that specifically address the institution’s role and responsibility to treat its workers fairly, to protect them from State repression when threatened, and to support the creation of bold and progressive works of art.

 

 

Speak Out on Inauguration Day, organized by Occupy Museums, takes place at the Whitney Museum (99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District, Manhattan) on January 20 from 11am to 2pm. Admission to the event is free, and entrance to the Whitney will be on a pay-as-you-wish basis all day in observance of the inauguration.

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