The Year 2017
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations
Welcome to what is going to be a collective chronicle of the year 2017! This journal will follow the general change that we experience in our daily lives, in our cities, countries and beyond, in the political discourses and in our reflections on the role of artists and intellectuals. Originating from several talks and discussions with fellow artists and thinkers FFT feels the strong need to share thoughts and feelings about how we witness what is going on in the world. Week after week different writers, artists, thinkers and scientists will take the role of an observer as they contribute to this collective diary.
#16 April 17th - 23rd
April 17th, 2017
“I couldn’t care less about the world” is a line from Sibylle Berg’s piece “Und dann kam Mirna”, which I’m reading in a overcrowded ICE train on Easter Monday just one night after the “Evet!”, the “Yes!” to the constitutional referendum in Turkey. I’m traveling from Cologne to Berlin to see “Und dann kam Mirna” at the Maxim Gorki Theater in a production by Sebastian Nübling. Couldn’t I care less about the world either? From the perspective of an intellectual, I think I cannot be indifferent to a world in which academic research is controlled by the state. The Mirnas of today still wouldn’t care less. I ask myself: is indifference the new lightheartedness?
That night, I listen to a choir of Mirnas saying: “Theater studies. Dance. Curating – occupations for people without special interests. […] The only thing that we trust is our intellect. It’s stable, while everything around us is in motion. Civil wars, terrorist attacks, strange family relationships. We trust ourselves, we are the smart ones returning to 1.0.” In the world of the world-wide-web, the step from 2.0 back to 1.0 means replacing the “many-to-many-show” with a “one-to-many-show”. It seems as if the “one-to-many-show” is currently gaining in popularity as the governing principle. I ask myself: is passivity the new lightheartedness? Read more Sibylle Berg!
April 18th, 2017
I’m reading: Claude Lévi-Strauss‘ The Savage Mind. The magical thinking of cultures living close to nature – often called: “primitive” – is not unlike the rational thinking of modern cultures. Magic and science quasi cheek by jowl …
And I wildly think one step further: science has lost the bricolage, the improvisation. I advocate more aberration. Legalize the aberration! Encourage magical thinking! Especially in academic practice!
April 19th, 2017
The PLURIVERSALE VI at the Academy of the Arts of the World in 2017 is under the motto: the new left and the old right. Asking: in what ways have the categories of “right” and “left” become meaningless? Is the political landscape disintegrating into a hotchpotch of rival camps? I have tickets for a concert by the Slovenian collective Laibach, whose fascist stage aesthetic has raised controversy since their founding in 1980. Laibach’s political position: “We are fascists as much as Hitler was a painter.”
A mix of “Tanz mit Laibach” and DAF’s “Tanz den Mussolini” buzzes through my head and in my ears, as I set out to the Volksbühne at the Rudolfplatz, Cologne. I dance with Laibach, motionless on the outside, extremely agitated on the inside, and I listen to Laibach’s eurovisions, more precisely: their song “Eurovision”:
There are crowds in the streets
They are crying to be heard
I see millions of hands
They are raised to the sky
In the absence of war
We are questioning peace
In the absence of god
We all pray to police
Oceans of people
Oceans of souls
Europe is falling apart
Europe is falling ...
I think to myself that, in the age of Trump, Erdogan, Putin and Orban, pop concerts can, of course, only be staged as totalitarian spectacles. This is the only way - to my mind - for pop to be cheek to jowl and not distant from the present. This is the only way that pop, to my mind, can be more than pure distraction … my thoughts dance with Laibach …
… and later with Björk: I see the Icelandic artist in my mind’s eye surrounded by jellyfish in her music video “Oceania”: “One breath away from Mother Oceania” ...
Be it totalitarian spectacle or propaganda love of nature, pop needs to be more political again!
April 20th, 2017
Adolf Hitler would have turned 128 years old today … I risk a web analysis and am greeted by culinary finds: either “Eiernockerl” (flour dumplings with egg” or “Schnitzel” (fried cutlet) for unbeatable 8,88 euro – the number 88 is used by neo-Nazis as a covert Hitler salute –, of course, even dictators have a favorite dish … but the Führer’s birthday also gives rise to thought experiments à la “What if Adolf hadn’t survived childhood …?”
Careful! This is a student-made commercial from a film academy. There is no connection to Mercedes Benz:
April 21st, 2017
One day before the AfD political convention at the Maritim Hotel in Cologne. Cologne is already in an uproar today. Even the pigeons: a dull thud over me, dead pigeon from above:
April 22nd, 2017
I’m thinking, not about the AfD, but about the relationship between people and animals: why do we look at animals, I ask myself, citing John Berger. Next question: do animals – apart from household pets – look at us? Does the tiger in the cage return my gaze? According to Berger, the zoological garden is a monument to the impossibility of such encounters: the predator as peripheral figure, who shies away from the center of the zoological stage. Eye contact impossible. Artistic rock formations as theatrical scenery. The cage as a peep show. Zoo as anti-theater?
April 23rd, 2017
France votes: Macron and Le Pen. According to Didier Eribon it is not a question of “or”: Macron with his neoliberal line of social democracy is ultimately exactly part of the phenomenon, which has facilitated the rise of Le Pen.
Meanwhile Sibylle Berg is thinking about the free TV premiere of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and how the film could really have been something: “Grey with long red hair, black clothes and a fetish for bird-watching – that would have been something”.
Verena Meis is a literature and theater scientist. After studying she started as a scientific assistant at the institute for German Philology at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Her main research are performance, contemporary theater, human-animal relationships and pop culture. She is founder of Quallenistitut and theater salon “AusReihe3” and also member of the advisory council for dance and theater of the regional capital Düsseldorf.
#1 January 1st - 8th Jacob Wren
#4 January 20th - 30th Alexander Karschnia & Noah Fischer
#5 January 30th - February 6th Ariel Efraim Ashbel
#6 February 6th - 12th Laila Soliman
#9 February 26th - March 5th Gina Moxley
#11 March 13th - 19th Agnieszka Jakimiak
#12 March 20th - 26th Yana Thönnes
#13 March 30th - April 2nd Geert Lovink
#15 April 10th - 16th Iggy Lond Malmborg
#17 April 24th - 30th Jeton Neziraj
#20 May 15th - 21st Bojan Jablanovec
#22 May 29th - June 4th Segun Adefila
#23 June 5th - 11th Agata Siniarska
We are deeply saddened by the devastating news that Mark Fisher died on January 13th. He first visited the FFT in 2014 with his lecture „The Privatisation of Stress“ about how neoliberalism deliberately cultivated collective depression. Later in the year he returned with a video-lecture about „Reoccupying the Mainstream" in the frame of the symposium „Sichtungen III“ in which he talks about how to overcome the ideology of capitalist realism and start thinking about a new positive political project: „If we want to combat capitalist realism then we need to be able to articulate, to project an alternative realism.“ We were talking about further collaboration with him last year but it did not work out because Mark wasn’t well. His books „Capitalist Realism“ and „The Ghosts of my Life. Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Future“ will continue to be a very important inspiration for our work.
Podiumsgespräch im Rahmen der Veranstaltung "Die Ästhetik des Widerstands - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Peter Weiss"
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations ist ein Projekt im Rahmen des Bündnisses internationaler Produktionshäuser, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.