Theatre-Border

bordertoySlowly the form of our meeting in Berlin has been taking shape, via disparate (and desperate?) emails, haphazardly. That will no doubt continue, but I think it good to gather it together here (in dialogic form):

John: I’ve no idea yet as to just what the Berlin workshop should be in April (week of 20th) – I just think we might want something on how the whole performance of Borders, or the Border Crossing, might make possible new thinking around immigration politics, border controls, divisions and divides etc.

What I am keen to do is extend from the discussions we had in the November meeting that raised issues around how people rethink the border when it comes to sound and through musicking, collaborative work, festivals and solidarity. And how the character of sound crosses the border differently perhaps – the metaphor of the sonic which moves us away from a visual and geographic conception of the Border. Is there something in the theatrical that tampers with border protocols that we can develop? Is the ‘live’ of theatre of use for thinking border as event? Is there something about the performance of the guard, the applicant, the visa, the passage. And that the border is performed everywhere, all the time, in the street, in the gaps we act out between each other? In the courthouse? In the detention centre? Or maybe either more esoteric, or more material – is the border a stage, or ‘in the round’? Are there actors, directors, a troupe – is it a puppet show? Is the border equipped with a back stage, house lights, curtains, inner circle and  ‘the gods’ – what is its architecture? Is it opera, Brecht, or vaudeville? Is a rose by any other name a border control? or… Something like this/anyone?

Rustom: Many thanks for your very insightful comments relating to the border.  Flogged to death as it is in a great deal of performance studies and cultural theory, it still continues to provoke and challenge.  Following the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, I guess it is the porosity of borders that is called into question, raising uncomfortable questions relating to surveillance.  India seems to be caught in a double bind:  on the one hand, it’s obvious that our existing mechanisms of surveillance are woefully weak and overly bureacuratized; on the other hand, in strenghening them, what are the implications for minorities and those migrants without papers who can be easily targeted?

Markus: As you know, here in Berlin we have a long tradition of thinking about crossing borders in terms of performativity and the “framing” of cultural and aesthetic borders. There sure are quite a number of theoretical approaches that deal with the problem of border-crossing within the arts and humanities and it seems to me that the
next step would be to reimplement these ideas back into cultural and political theory.

Why not give each day a different topic, held together by the overall theme of body, theatricality and performativity in regards to bordercrossing or the blurring of borders? In this case it could very well focus especially on bodily borders, right? The political, social and phenomenological integrity and dignity of borders (or boundaries) between bodies perhaps? Combined with the old psychoanalytical question if there is such a thing as a coherent body with distinct borders in the first place, there should be many interesting opportunities for thinking about surveillance and counter surveillance for example. Or the notion of “staging violence” in the media. Just my quick two cents.

John: You had asked what the Clandestino people are doing. Their project for Berlin is derived from work on a play they are doing about the Detention Centre. Its due for performance in December 09 but the text will be ready (only in Swedish) in Feb. We will try to have it translated before April. This started because I said I would like to really push the Detention Centre as border idea. I’ve written on barbed wire before – its a border that really cuts into the body. A harsh theatre is required for this: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/489/detention.html

So Aleksander and Johannes have written a play, “FÖRVARET” (The Detention Center)? It will be performed at Göteborgs Stadsteater with premiere December 2009. They say they ‘think it is very good starting point for a discussion on the complexity of border surveillance seen from an inside the border control perspective, what happens with language of emotions in the context where the “not quite criminals”, those people who have been taken into “custody”, been placed in the “detention centre”, not beeing criminals for something that they have comitted but for a border they have transgressed. This is what me and Johannes have been working out in “Förvaret”.

Aleksander says: ‘I think my other colleagues Michal Azar (philosopher (Fanon, Lacan, Sartre, Camus, postmodern thinkers)/historian of ideas (war of Algeria)/play writer) and/or Edda Manga (philosopher (feminism, postcolonialism, postmodernism)/historian of ideas (the Idea of a Just war from Victoria/bartolome de las Casas, etc)/activist, . . . ) would be great to bring since they are very much of intellectuals that can “reimplement the ideas crossing borders in terms of performativity and the “framing” of cultural and aesthetic borders back into cultural and political theory”. Also Cecilia Parsberg, artist that did many projects in on the Wall in Palestine’.

John: unfortunately we don’t have funds to invite other visitors, but if people could make their way to Berlin…

Things to discuss:
Format – ideally not too much lecture format. Lets experiment with formats. Panel discussion, round table, theatrical metaphor for seminars?

Text – three days, three themes related to Border performance. One on bodily Border. Another on Surveillance (of bodies, borders, nation states). Another one ___ detentions?

Participants: several of the PhDs have suggested good things. I will ask them to write up a paragraph for their presentations. Especially good ideas from Jen, Ray, Cristobal and Nick. So, more to come here, but at least we have a start. Comments welcome.

The main border page, with the back story to this event, is here.

[The picture is from Emile's wish list on Amazon. Check here and read the comments].

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Comments

  • john  On 04/02/2009 at 4:26 pm

    Hi John,

    Just a thought. I once did a workshop with some college students in Granada where we had to explore the cultural environment of the ‘historical town’ against a backdrop of concrete urbanisation. Rather than conventional research, what we did was to have the different people involved in the project explore the city in order to write narratives and plots made up of phrases, lines, poems, or whatever languages they found written on walls and graffiti, and then we presented them in a forum as a discoursification of the cityspace. A lot of cursing was involved…

    So anyway, I was thinking of a concept: ‘Properties of Border’ (properties as in props- theatrical ‘properties’). Maybe as a theme or strategy for a ‘site-specific anti-conference’, we could collect fragmented images (or sounds) of snippets and trinkets that make up plots of intra-city borders and borderline psyche in berlin, and then present/discuss them in whatever format: forum, dialogue, poem, picture show, debate… I think I need a sip of water now…

    As I said, just a thought.

    Nick
    ______________

    Hi John,

    I have an idea: to dedicate on morning or may be the entire day (night included, why not?) to make shorts (or not that long) walking in Berlin from a point A to a point B (or Z as you wish).

    The walking could be decided or plan by the German crew but also by us (this is logistic and also to simplify the idea)…and it will be realized in couples. For instance, I can decide to walk from the area where the Hitler’s Bunker was place and choose you as my walking-fellow, and the walking include some rules. For instance, my walk needs bottles of beers and will be done bare shoes, and I will ask you questions about your Ukrainian relatives and also the invisibility of the Bunker as a tourist point in Berlin.

    There are many options to realize this city-walking.

    Another will be to dedicate 1 session (2-3 hours) to plan the walking with all the people, create routes that open up how to performe the question of the border (it is clear that the border is not a line), with the help of people from Berlin (it will be easy). The walking should be in couples (to trigger a dialoge) and also groups but I will suggest not very big groups to have more walkings……. And in the evening realized all the walks. The next day have a session of discussion, see pictures, etc.

    This could be my contribution. Could this fix in the system of the seminar?

    Cristobal
    ______________

    Hi Cristobal and Nick

    Seems you two are on similar wavelengths somehow. Could you confer and come up with a version of these. Maybe it should be that everyone walk towards the conference in the morning via some part of the rout of the wall/border, so specifically through border designated areas, and then collecting any observed texts as points for discussion, unfolding the city through its narrative/journey towards our conference – by foot, train, s-bahn etc… with problems of translation, interpretation, relevance and randomness. In advance reading some situationist materials and some history guidebooks. Also thinking of the naivety of the visitor. I think it best that this would be a morning task, so people would arrive at the conference venue for discussion after lunch – say we start that day from noon onwards – discussion over lunch then a one hour formal session in the later afternoon to see/consider the results.

    You would probably need to prepare an instruction/provocation, and could perhaps choose an essay to read and circulate in advance – Ian Sinclair, Rumney, Grass (he suggested he might follow a cow in Calcutta for a day and write about that – gnnng) or something. The evening before people would et the instruction, perhaps having been asked in advance to bring digital cameras to capture texts?

    Anyway, I like the ideas. Think they would be good to combine.

    best
    John

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  • Rustom  On 04/02/2009 at 4:31 pm

    Rustom wrote (jan 29):

    I’m on my way to Manila tonight so I will be out of touch for a while. I think there should be a light and tensile structure to our meeting, nothing too confining. Would it be possible for us to collate a dossier of some essential readings, videos, other material which could serve as a springboard for our discussions?

    In Kolkata, my home-city, Rimini Protokoll has just catalyzed a new production set in a call centre. Another instance of border-crossing through virtual technologies…

    The Berliners in our group could also recommend performances that we could see during our stay in Berlin. I would be eager too see theatre/installations/dance…

    Also, the possibility of actually engaging with ‘live performance’ within the framework of the discussions could catalyze new modes of articulation.

    more later,

    Rustom

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  • Nick  On 04/02/2009 at 5:24 pm

    We can always game the ‘bored-er’ or play a border-crossing conference game. A conference set up as a secret santa. Right, so the stimulus, theme, concept on which to base your presentation is given to you anonymously by your secret border donor. Thus the borders are gamed: presentations become present-ations that must be handed back to their donors, who may then want to confess what their border stimulus was meant to represent in the first place. Where has the border gone? This is what having kids does to you!

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  • Aleksander  On 04/02/2009 at 11:20 pm

    Hi

    Speaking about games on the border theme. Did you ever come across this?

    http://www.frontiers-game.com/

    And John, when do you need last version of our play latest. I think we can deliver by end of February. Is that ok? Then there is almost two months time for translation. Still interested?

    Aleksander

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  • Aleksander  On 04/02/2009 at 11:26 pm

    Hi again. Here is another one:

    http://www.motallaodds.org/

    A

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  • john hutnyk  On 05/02/2009 at 12:09 am

    Ha, am impressed that the ‘in English’ icon for the translation of the motallaodds game is a US flag, rather than the Union Jack that I’d expect…

    Translations: this really depends upon the now career translator, Jeff. he has a lot on, but has been asked. Jeff?

    J

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  • maria_technosux  On 05/02/2009 at 10:30 pm

    Hutnyk, sorry for responding to this thread, I can see you guys are mainly talking amongst yourselves, but I have to warn you guys about something re: borderlines and German performance art.

    A while back I wrote an expose about a German artist who had staged a shockingly racist performance in Berlin. It was basically a German blackface revival of the American racist stereotype of the Watermelon Negro, an old American racist caricature that reared its head again during the Obama presidential campaign (depictions of Obama as a Watermelon Negro).

    I openly attacked the German artist in question, not because I particularly care about Obama (I don’t), but because the performance was so blatantly racist. I would have attacked any artist performing this sort of thing regardless of the USA elections.

    When I confronted him over the mail with his performance, he told me that *I* had (quote) “crossed all borderlines”. He suggested that, being married to a self-styled blackman (actually a New Zealand Maori), he has a (marital?) right to stage such racist trash (aka the “I fuck black people in my private life so I can say the n-word in public for money if I want to” excuse).

    This “borderline” statement statement made me suspicious – he doesn’t usually talk like this, and I certainly felt that his racism had crossed all lines of what’s acceptable onstage – so I did a little more research into this weird refence to “borderlines”. I soon discovered that this guy has organized a series of performances in Hamburg, the theme of which is, yes, BORDERLINES!

    Warning to anyone interested in borderline and performance art: Racist artists like him have already jumped on the borderline artistic/intellectual bandwagon!

    Methinks that artists like him are setting up borders/walls/territorial pissing-lines to hide and protect their own racism behind. These artists need borderlines, because, as racists, they do not want to see their artistic racism questioned or attacked. Their borderlines are something like: “Halt! This is the art-zone. Here in the art-zone, we the transgressive artists can be as racist as we wanna be, and get away with it.”

    So Hutnyk, I am asking you and your co-workers to be very very very weary of people like him. Artists like him are setting up borders to zone themselves off from critics, creating a safe-space for racist artists in which they can go around staging blackface revivals under the guise of “transgressive” avant garde art. Watch out for this bunch!

    The whole experience with this artist left a bad taste in my mouth. Every time I read the word BORDERLINES, now in the context of your blog, I just have to relay this story.

    My expose (I’m not pitching my stuff, just to show you my evidence, that this guy really is a racist):
    http://maria-technosux.livejournal.com/50267.html

    Examples of the performances on his Borderline programme:

    http://www.kampnagel.de/index.php?page=detail&cluster=427955 (this guy Tarek, an upper-middle class Palestinian-American to boot and boot with the steeltoed boots, is the *stupidest* racist creep ever, please don’t get me started, no wonder the above German racist artist likes this other Palestinian-American racist artist so much.)

    http://www.kampnagel.de/index.php?page=detail&cluster=428001 (Naturally about Cyprus, what else? Of all the cough-cough “exotic” borderline-locations to appropriate for your borderline projects, this is no doubt the cheapest to access. At least she bothered to employ a few “Greek” dancers.)

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  • enis  On 06/02/2009 at 5:21 am

    Hi John, Cristobal, Nick

    Berlin’s S-Bahn ring physically and symbolically constitutes the border between the inner and outer city. See S-Bahn lines S45, S46, S47 in the following image: http://www.berlinhotelsreservation.com/wp-content/gallery/berlin/berlin_sbahn_map.jpg It goes without saying that all of the desirable/fashionable middle class neighborhoods as well as the recently gentrified ones are located within the ring. This also means theoretically that as one travels on one of these three S-Bahn lines one can observe the capital intensive zone from the windows on one side of the carriage and look at the less desirable parts of the city from the windows on the other side. So here’s a suggestion along Situationist lines: We can ride the ring S-Bahn twice, making two complete tours one after the other (it’ll take about two hours). On the first ride we’ll look out the windows on the left and then on the second ride out the windows on the right – and also document the trip if we want. Hopefully this will make the border more visible and help us start a discussion about the manifestations of capital concentration and intrusion as far as Berlin’s cityscape is concerned. I remember seeing a similar video installation about five years ago. It was done by a guy from Goldsmiths (I can’t remember his name). He put two cameras on the S-Bahn facing away from each other and then projected the two footages side by side on the same screen. But he was not concerned with borders created by capital. If I’m not mistaken it had something to do with Einstein’s concept of relativity…
    Hope this helps. Greetings from Prussia.

    enis

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    • john hutnyk  On 06/02/2009 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Enis, Great. But can you remember the name of the person who made the video. I’m not saying Berlin hasn’t changed in 5 years and we should do it, but it would be good to track down the original. Good project for us, even if we just have part of the video installation to start a discussion -john

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  • john hutnyk  On 06/02/2009 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Maria, Disturbing nasty stuff. The reappearance of black-face lines up with the racist “golliwog” controversy here in the UK, which more clearly is a work of the ultra-right (Maggie Thatcher’s daughter, and the Royal Gift Shop the culprits here). It is of course linked to Obama-black-lash reaction. So, with this ‘transgressive’ stuff you mention, we should certainly watch out for an opportunity to see it if there is such an opportunity when we are in Berlin. Now that would be provocative for a big group to attend, attuned to borders in a wider critical-progressive way, and carrying lengths of rope suitable for such strange fruit…
    - John

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  • enis  On 06/02/2009 at 3:31 pm

    Hi,

    I’ve managed to track down the video. It’s called “W-E” and was done by Mark Wallinger. See link:

    http://www.kunstaspekte.de/index.php?tid=16159&action=terminhttp://www.kunstaspekte.de/index.php?tid=16159&action=termin

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  • enis  On 06/02/2009 at 3:38 pm

    Hi once again,

    Apparently W-E was another project or the name of the exhibition. The aforementioned video is called:
    “What time is the Station leaving the Train?”

    http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424420143/105146/mark-wallinger-what-time-is-the-station-leaving-the-train.html

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  • john hutnyk  On 09/02/2009 at 5:45 pm

    Mark Wallinger’s art brokers sent m the following texst regarding his piece>

    They write:
    The piece in question is called What Time Is The Station Leaving The Train.

    It is a synchronised, two channel projection derived from two cameras filming simultaneously left and right views, from the same point on a train completing a full circular journey on the S-Bahn in Berlin. They are then projected side by side with a black spot painted on the wall at the vanishing point of each image. I have attached a small text.

    The texs:

    What Time is the Station Leaving the Train is an Einstein quote. It is a meditation on time travel and a sort of primer in relativity. It is a companion piece to When Parallel Lines meet at Infinity, which used footage shot from the front of a Circle Line train in London, which was then projected onto a wall on which a black spot representing the vanishing point had been painted. The S-bahn ring provides a similar opportunity for endlessly repeating loops (and both take just over an hour)

    This time there are two vanishing points, two projections. The footage was shot by two cameras facing away from each other recording two opposite views of the same journey. When these are projected side by side they produce a puzzling but beguiling kind of palindrome. Once the train (or station) starts moving the images begin to accelerate away from each other in diverging harmony.

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  • john  On 10/02/2009 at 2:53 pm

    Hi

    Its proposed, and I like the idea, that on the wednesday of the workshop we attend a screening of Hito Steyerl’s film “Die leere Mitte and Two Hundred Years of Border Crossings” (aka The Empty Centre).

    Christina Gerhardt describes the film thus: Die leere Mitte (The Empty Center, 1998), a film directed and produced by Hito Steyerl, engages the space of Potsdamer Platz and the changes it has undergone over the past two hundred years, thereby discussing variegated borders that have existed on the site: religious, political, and economic. Yet organizing the film’s content temporally undoes its structural complexity: while the film presents itself as a documentary, its formal techniques thwart conventions of the genre. Thematically, it examines both discreet eras of history and broader imperialist forces at work in Germany or areas that it colonized.

    John

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  • Ray  On 10/02/2009 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I am planning a presentation in 3 acts, called

    Van Gogh’s Ear: New Voices In Radio Art.

    1 – Issues faced by Radio Art when the Radia Network was founded
    2 – Radio Art practices within the network in the last three years – the New Voices.
    3 – How these practices defined new boundaries for Radio Art.

    You will be able to listen to some excerpts of radio artworks and all!

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  • john  On 11/02/2009 at 4:46 pm

    Karen Till’s work looks particularly relevant. (thanks Angela Impey)

    http://www.geog.umn.edu/people/till/index.html

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  • john hutnyk  On 18/02/2009 at 12:16 am

    Regus offers these (among otehr) suggestions:

    Some spontaneous ideas for your programme:

    On November 9th there will b a big border-theatre-spectacle: The official celebration of the fall of the wall will be at Brandenburg Gate (20 years ago). Maybe it would be interesting to talk to the organizers and see what they are planning to do?

    Everyday there is border theatre at Ceckpoint Charlie. The audience: tourists who are interested in the history of the wall. The stage: a little checkpoint house with one or two men who are dressed like GDR soldiers. There is quite interesting interaction between them everyday.

    In Kreuzberg in Ballhaus Naunynstr. a new theatre is run by Shermine Langhof, who tries to establish the first German-Turkish theatre. It is a quite interesting project. Maybe they have performances there?

    http://www.ballhausnaunynstrasse.de/

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  • enis  On 18/02/2009 at 5:01 pm

    on borders and sound: a trinket in the form of a song (to be downloaded)

    In 1990 an Italian guy named Sergio Messina made a “no copyright” song/message directed at American audiences. Entitled RadioGladio, the song aimed at informing American tax payers of CIA’s ties with the Italian para-military organization Gladio and their joint “communist hunt.” It was distributed for free in 400 master cassettes, inviting people to duplicate it (and thus freeing double deckers from their constant unlawful practices). According to Messina, “the echo was worldwide, Frank Zappa praised it in an interview, radio stations worldwide picked it up, the press and audiences loved it so much that they renamed him after the song (and he stuck with it). Several compilations featured RadioGladio, and it was put under copyright only after a struggle with the industry’s dark side (but it’s still available for free).” The song is quite fun to listen and can be downloaded from here (the link is at the very bottom of the page):

    http://www.daridire.net/musica.html#radiogladio

    Messina’s blog on “realcore” is also worth checking out: http://realcore.radiogladio.it/

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  • Ray  On 18/02/2009 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Guys,

    Here is a taster – a radio-art piece on the subject of borders:

    Mixing Borders

    Listening to the radio is like traveling and when you travel you cross borders. How does it sound when you mix borders? Borders on your map, borders in your head. Enjoy a cup of tea, or a good cognac, while listening to Mixing Borders.

    Produced by Selma Gültoprak, Keiko Takahashi, David Hahlbrock, Franziska Windisch, Julia Weißenberg and Oliver Salkic.

    This show is one of the outcomes of the Airtime seminar at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. http://www2.khm.de/airtime/

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  • John  On 20/02/2009 at 2:39 pm

    A piece by a former student, Delwar Hussein, on the Bangladesh-Inda border:

    http://www.himalmag.com/Border-rustling_nw2828.html

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  • john  On 02/03/2009 at 2:55 pm

    Dear all

    We are getting to the point where proposals for workshop sessions and a sort of program can be prepared for our Theatre-Border meeting in Berlin 20-23 April.

    I am keen to keep the structure loose, but not so flexible it falls apart. The borders of time and all that…

    Cristobal and Nicholas to organise tuesday afternoon group explore of the city (they have prepared a sheet/guide to experience, or counter experience… and then a feedback – I have cut and pasted that in below this message).

    Ray has a session on audio borders. Sounds good.. See above for description of that.

    Johannes and Aleks have suggested we do something with their play on Detention Centres – though its not translated as far as I know. Any contact with Jeff?

    On the advice of Christine Regus – thanks – I am in dialogue with the people who will ‘stage’ the Berlin Wall 20 anniversary events in Nov – they should come talk with us. = 1 session. Maybe we can feed into that. Or tamper with their ideas.

    Film – there is a screening of Hito Steyerl’s film on the wednesday. It would be good if we can meet afterwards with Hito for discussion. it depends on the timing of the screening.

    I spoke with Ken Nghi-Ha about him possibly orchestrating a session. .

    Bhaskar and Joan Marie Kelly on borders – mental and sexual to do with paining and ‘illegal’ migrant sex workers in Singapore.

    Paolo Lara and friend on Baol. Pen Spiegel to suggest something.

    Rustom suggests reading theorists in public places. What changes. He said perhaps we can read something from Benjamin – and I immediately thought this might work well inside the Liebeskind memorial – or even better, we recite Adorno’s poetry! Its just an idea.

    Below, the proposal from Cristobal and Nick. Please send other proposals. need to get this a little more in shape.

    best to all
    John

    W-B-B
    [Walking-Borders-Berlin]

    Cristóbal Bianchi
    Nicolás Salazar-Sutil
    Centre for Cultural Studies
    Goldsmiths University of London

    Basic Lines

    This proposal consists of a workshop to be conducted during the Border & Performance Theatre Laboratory that will be realized on 20-23 of April in Berlin. The aim of the workshop is to use the ‘properties of border’ (as props) in order to draw a narrative or performance in different locations of the city. The walking will be realized in an open way to permit the creation of a generative narrative amongst the participants: given a point of departure/encounter each route will be drawn according to a series of contingencies, obstacles, interventions, impromptu events, recollections, dialogues and stories. What we hope to achieve with this walking is to elicit multiple imaginary borderlines crisscrossing the urban space and overlapping the concrete borders given a priori by the cityscape. The walking could be thus understood as a counter-performance, insofar as it uses the existing performance space of the city, and reworks it into a poetic event.

    Logistic

    In preparation to the seminar, participants will be divided into small groups (3-5 people).

    Each group will be led by a group-leader who will be chosen before-hand. It is perhaps advisable to have group leaders who know the city well. We do not discourage the possibility of also having group leaders who are alien to the city and the language, in order to encourage different layers of engagement between the participants and their walkings.

    The role of the group leaders will be to plan a trajectory through the city. These lines of flight will adapt to the contingencies encountered in situ and to the reactions or changes of plan offered by the participants. In the process, participants are encouraged to collect properties of border in the way of images, sounds, dialogues and graffiti.

    The different teams will regroup in a given venue, where the material will be shared not in the way of a formal conference panel, but at a party or social gathering. Hence the relaying of the material is once again blurred and de-bordered by the fluidity of the space. Images collected during the walkings will be projected on a screen, and sounds played alongside music.

    Schedule

    Day 2 [Tuesday 21st April]

    15, 00-15, 45 hrs: Basic information, Formations of groups.

    16, 00 -19,30 hrs: Walking.

    20,00 hrs: Point of arriving for each group (dinner)

    Day 3 [Wednesday 22nd April

    20, 00 hrs: Party (Venue tba/Exhibition of Material).

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  • Johanna  On 09/03/2009 at 11:07 pm

    Hi,

    Here are some more ideas for the program, hope it’s not too late.

    * borders and cultural centres

    Ballhaus Nauny Strasse is a centre for “postmigrant cultural production” in Kreuzberg, might be interesting to see a theatre play there (not sure if there is one in april, though…) and maybe invite someone from the centre to the conference or for a beer for a discussion….
    http://www.ballhausnaunynstrasse.de

    And of course the “house of the cultures of the world”… what “world” is presented here??
    The main program at that time seems to be the “pictoplasma” exhibition (that would give material for a whole other conference of different critical perspectives…), but maybe there will be some other stuff, too.
    http://www.hkw.de

    * border diary

    It might be nice if people joining the conference kept a diary for those days – a written book or the photo camera or a sound recorder or newspaper clippings… to keep notes on performance and borders, observations, thoughts, self-critique (interesting technique for self-formation…).
    Maybe in the end (or first thing in the morning each day), the whole group could meet and people present thoughts from the diaries to the others for discussion. Might be interesting to explicitly discusse personal experiences, questions…

    * pracitcal issues

    rent bicycles if the weather is good enough, it’s great to get around that way day & night http://www.regenbogenfabrik.de/Projekte/Fahrradwerkstatt_lRegenbogen.htm

    This one is 10 minutes by bike from your hostel:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_War_Memorial,_Berlin

    Looking forward to see you all in April,

    Johanna

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    • john hutnyk  On 09/03/2009 at 11:27 pm

      Hi Johanna

      Thanks for this. Looks great.

      I also just heard from Nghi, who tells me about this guy Miro who I would love to have join us. I post his outline of a forthcoming event below for information (slightly edited post from Nghi):

      Miro Kaygalak isa german-turkish second-generation artist…

      he told me about his border crossing approaches. one of his project “Rename
      Diyarbakir” has brought him into turkish police custody, because he dared to
      stick street art images mit forbidden languages like Kurdish, Aramaic and
      other minority languages on public places.

      his new project “qwx – show ur lingua“ will be presented this year at Linz
      in Austria within the cultural capital of Europe program. …

      here is a description of his political art project.

      best, nghi

      ————————–

      qwx – show ur lingua

      „With a single glance at the underside of my tongue the teacher
      would control if I had spoken the forbidden language at home. When I
      was a child I still spoke my native tongue“ H.K., Diyarbakir
      To stick out your tongue is more than a universal sign of disobedience.

      The Errorist project is centred on the search for failures. Its art
      project “qwx – show ur lingua“ aims to counter the politics which
      homogenise the subjectivity of people living within the boundaries of
      Turkey, people who have a variety of ethnic and cultural identities.
      By prompting people to upload images of their tongues sticking out
      “qwx – show ur lingua“ aims to create a space of resistance.

      Within Turkish society subjects who resist and who live in opposition
      to the politics of homogenisation are regarded as traitors and are
      demonised by the Turkish state and by society at large. This
      demonization is not only a recourse to a mythical being to shape the
      political and historical perception of the other but also a symbol
      embedded into everyday language that invokes the unknown, the
      threatening, and the unintelligible.

      Sticking out your tongue deforms the submissive and pleasing
      expression power and authority expects to see. The face that sticks
      out its tongue disrespects power and authority by breaking codes of
      communication that are accepted socially. It provides the demonised
      other with the means to adopt an image attributed to him/herself and
      to re-signify it in a way that makes visible its internal other.

      The aim of the project is to combine the universal meaning of sticking
      out your tongue, disobedience, with the demands of the subjects which
      do not identify themselves as Turks and whose native tongues are not
      the official language. Those demands are the recognition of their
      difference and the right to education in their own languages.

      Our medium is our message!

      Why q, w, x?

      In Turkey 2002 the ban on publication in languages other than Turkish
      was finally abolished. It was followed by recognition of the right to
      give non-Turkish names to children. However, in this process, the
      boundary between the legal and the illegal has shifted continuously
      because of the government’s responses to daily practices. New symbols
      that define or represent the forbidden have surfaced: the letters Q, W
      and X. Because these letters do not exist in the official Turkish
      alphabet, their use in writings such as official documents,
      invitations, billboards, posters, etc. are interpreted as separatist
      propaganda which can and are legally prosecuted. Thus Q, W and X
      threaten the single-language politics of the state and, at the same
      time, are the very expression of exclusion. These letters show the
      errors of the system.

      The „qwx-show ur lingua“ project seeks to identify the errors in the
      political system of the Turkish republic. The project will make
      visible the cracks, the failures, by confronting the dominant symbolic
      order with the signs that have been repressed.

      Like this

  • enis  On 10/03/2009 at 12:55 am

    Hi guys,

    I know Miro personally & will ask him if he’d like to join us in April.

    e.

    Like this

  • Julian  On 11/03/2009 at 12:18 pm

    Another thought: Beyond text also has a literal interpretation in respect to theatre, which contrasts the English literary tradition with other European north American ones which are more performance based eg Stephenwolf (USA), Robert LaPage (Canada) Complicite (UK). This should be addressed in our discussions. This might help re borders as a text/ non-text line. So an alternative presentation: “Text, context, subtext, pretext and nontext.” – Julian

    Like this

  • Paolo  On 12/03/2009 at 4:44 pm

    Theatre of the Oppressed:

    Brazil, Parallels and Exercise

    The presentation is divided in 2 parts.

    On the first one, we will introduce the history and ideas of the Theatre of the Oppressed giving critical attention to its brazilian background, influences, and similarities such as Paulo Freire`s pedagogy of the oppressed, the theology of liberation and the music of Hermeto Pascoal. Then, we will try to think the notion of TO having in mind some issues mentioned in the idea of TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone). What the senses and feelings become when you transform the regular function of objects and spaces ? Which borders are broken and how others are established ?

    topics :

    *

    Augusto Boal
    *

    Theatre of the Opressed
    *

    Brazil in the 50` and 60`
    *

    Faith and Education, Music and the Body
    *

    Displacement of the spirit
    *

    Event, bands and borders

    On the second part, we will present an example of an exercise to provide to the participants the opportunity to experience the TO in the practice way, using the “ Forum Theatre”, a part of the trunk which built the tree representing the aspects of the TO.

    topic :

    Forum Theatre works from rehearsal improvisation to create a scene of a specific oppression. Using the Greek terms “protagonist” and “antagonist,” Forum Theatre seeks to show a person (the protagonist) who is trying to deal with an oppression and failing because of the resistance of one or more obstacles (the antagonists).

    Forum scenes can be virtual one-act plays or more often short scenes. In either case, a full presentation is offered to the audience. The joker (difficultator) then says to the audience we will do this again, and if you would do something different than what the protagonist (not the antagonists) is doing, stand up and yell stop. The protagonist will then sit down and the audience member is invited forward to show their solution of the moment. Once the intervention is performed, the audience invariably applauds, and the joker invites the audience to discuss the proposed solution, and to offer even more solutions.

    from: Augusto Boal – http://www.wwcd.org/action/Boal.html#WKSHPS

    Like this

  • Dietmar  On 16/03/2009 at 5:45 pm

    dear all,

    I am proposing a discussion / talk between me and artist Raul Gschrey on the topics of surveillance, bodies, borders (cf. http://www.pro-ton.net/cctv/). Of course, Gschrey could provide videos of his performances.

    Performing in surveillant space

    Visual surveillance of public spaces has noticeably increased in the past years. CCTV has become a common sight in the central areas of cities in Europe. But how does the existence of the “all seeing eye” change the behaviour of the object under surveillance? Is it a feeling of security that is initiated by the cameras or are they percieved as an intrusion into privacy? What relations are established between the watcher and the watched?
    German artist Raul Gschrey has explored the consequenes of CCTV in a number of art works. Especially in his public street performance he has investigated the notions of borders, bodies and surveillance. Raul Gschrey and academic researcher Dietmar Kammerer will discuss the experiences of performing in surveillant space.

    Like this

  • Cristobal Bianchi  On 24/03/2009 at 12:26 pm

    Hi John,

    I just read this beautiful one page text called “A Note of Negro Poetry” writen by Tristan Tzara
    in 1918…if we already included texts about Migrations and Borders for Berlin….this one could be a refresh: even though the text is a bit eurocentric takes a distance of that…

    Best,

    Cristobal

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Tristan Tzara

    A Note On Negro Poetry (1918)

    “I don’t even want to know that there were men before me” (Descartes), but some essential & simple laws, pathetic & muffled fermentation of a solid earth.

    To fix on the point where the forces have accumulated, from whence the formulated sense springs, the invisible radiance of substance, the natural relation, but hidden and just, naively, without explanation.

    To round off and regulate into shapes, into constructs, the images according to their weight, color and matter; or to map the arrangements of the values, the material and lasting densities, subordinating nothing to them. Classification of the comic operas sanctioned by the aesthetic of accessories. (O, my drawer number ABSOLUTE.)

    I abhor to enter a house where the balconies, the “ornaments”, are carefully stuck to the wall. Yet the sun, the stars continue to vibrate and hum freely in space, but I loathe to identify the explanatory hypotheses (asphyxiant probable) with the principle of life, activity, certainty.

    The crocodile hatches the future life, rain falls for the vegetal silence, one isn’t a creator by analogy. The beauty of the satellites – the teaching of light – will satisfy us, for we are God only for the country of our knowledge, in the laws according to which we live experience on this earth, on both sides of our equator, inside our borders. Perfect example of the infinite we can control: the sphere.

    To round off and regulate into shapes, into constructs, the images according to their weight, color and matter; or to map the arrangements of the values, the material and lasting densities through personal decision and the unswerving firmness of sensibility, comprehension adequate to the matter transformed, close to the veins and rubbing against them in the pain for the present, definite joy. One creates an organism when the elements are ready for life. Poetry lives first of all for the functions of dance, religion, music and work.

    – Translated by Pierre Joris

    Like this

  • Lin  On 02/04/2009 at 3:54 am

    dear all,

    I find all the proposals both interesting and insightful. I would like to take part in, especially The Walking. I also prepared four ideas.

    One is a presentation about the Performativity and trans-border of Ci-Poem of Tang & Song Dynasty. Ci-Poem is totally different from poem, which is admitted as an intellectual/officer’s normal literary creation form. Ci- Poem is different; its inner protagonist is women, beautiful women. Through the creating of Ci-Poems, the authors cut across the border between genders. And the metaphor of man’s talent and capacity are beautiful women’s body/part of the body. It is an unconscious performance, an exchange between soul and body, from inner to outer.

    The second is about “re-creating the border with one’s body performance” It means I would like to take about Social performance theory in China.
    It is originated from Richard Schechner’s Human Performance theory. Because his performance theory is different from Chinese traditional performance theory, and in China, in order to show the differences, Shanghai Theatre Academy’s vice president Sun Huizhu has translated it as Human Performance Theory.
    It is developed to be a practical method to “through the analysis of individual’s daily performance to improve and help individuals to adapt to the human society and to survive better. Handle the front stage and back stage, and discipline the society roles to create a harmonious society.
    And what is more interesting is that nowadays in China all kinds of training center and training class are emerging, desperately and interesting. What they are advocating is also seems to be the same with the social performance theory. I would like to do some analysis.

    The third is about Boal’s Forum Theatre as Paolo mentioned. In Asian, such form of theatre is also emerging, called the Public Theatre. Some psychoanalyst and theatre voluntary community workers in China are endeavoring via such theatre form to help the public, take the emergency intervention after the earthquake for instance. If we discuss about Boal’s Forum Theater, I would like to take part in.

    The last one is that I intend to show a series of photographs. They are about the border between temples and the metropolis – Shanghai.

    Like this

  • John  On 02/04/2009 at 3:55 pm

    Sounds great Lin – any one of these ideas would be of interest. Perhaps the Schechner one deserves attention because no-one else seems to have mentioned the old troubadour yet. But really, which of these do you most want to present? – John

    Like this

  • John  On 07/04/2009 at 12:16 pm

    Program structure:
    (which is intentionally loose to allow time for discussion and for borders to be porous)

    Monday: From 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m at Clubhaus.
    10am Coffee
    10:30 am Introduction Prof Dr Erika Fischer-Lichte and Prof John Hutnyk
    11:15 am Dr Julian Henriques: Boarders and Skins: haptic crossovers, tympanic rhythms and sensory surfaces
    12:30 lunch
    2.30 pm “Goethe Institute Mauerreisse project discussion”, introduced by Kerstin Raatz
    3:30 short break
    3:45 Paulo Lara and Luiza Valle “Theatre of the Oppressed: Brazil, Parallels and Exercise”
    5 pm
    6.45 pm Drinks and Dinner at “Alter Krug”

    Tuesday: 10:00 a.m. to 09:00 p.m.
    10:30 Chen, Lin “Restructure of the border with making belief performance”
    11am Ray Ganz: “Van Gogh’s Ear: New Voices In Radio Art”
    11.50 coffee
    12:10 pm Raul Gschrey and Dr Dietmar Kammerer: “Performing in Surveillance Space”
    1:30 pm Lunch
    3:15 pm Miro Kaygalak: “qwx – show ur lingua” – chair: Kien Nghi Ha
    4:00 pm short break
    4:20 pm – instructions from Cristobal and Nicolas
    W-B-B [Walking-Borders-Berlin]. See full description
    5 pm leave for walking event –
    8 pm dinner (central, tbc)

    Wednesday: From 10:00 a.m. to end, back at the Clubhaus.
    10:30 am Joan Kelly: “Theatricalizing Portrature”
    11 am Dr Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay: “Theatricalizing Portrature commentary”
    11:30 Coffee
    11:50am Alexander Motturi and Johannes Anyuru: “FÖRVARET” (The Detention Center)
    1:20 pm Lunch
    3L:20 pm Screening and discussion of “The Empty Centre” with director Dr Hito Steyerl
    5 pm break
    5:20 pm – 6.30PM Responses from walking event and party – venue tbc.

    Like this

  • John  On 07/04/2009 at 12:17 pm

    Abstracts or Bios or webclips of presenters:

    (more detailed or different texts would of course be welcome from any presenter who had not responded to my call for abstracts or whose abstract here is actually a substitute bio. Apologies for any misspellings)

    Dr Julian Henriques

    Julian Henriques is a screenwriter, film director and researcher with interests in sound and auditory culture. He has worked a policy researcher and journalist and became a television producer and director making documentaries for London Weekend Television, BBC Television Music and Arts Department, on the Arena and Omnibus series. He has also owned and run his own production company, Formation Films, making documentaries for Channel 4 Television, ZDF and Arte. His fiction credits as writer-director include the feature film Babymother, and the improvised drama We the Ragamuffin. Julian ran film and television department at CARIMAC at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica and is currently senior lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications, at Goldsmiths, University of London, convening the MA in Script Writing programme and leading the BA Music as Communication and Creativity course. Julian is one of the authors of Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity, a founding editor of the journal Ideology & Consciousness. More recently he has published book chapters and journal articles in Auditory Culture Reader, Sonic Interventions, Sonic Synergies and African and Black Diaspora. He his first degree was in Psychology at Bristol University and he was awarded his PhD from the University of London in 2008.

    Kerstin Raatz, project assistant for “Die Mauerreise – The Journey of the Wall”.
    The project “The Journey of the Wall” is part of a bigger national project planned by the Berlin Senate on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall in Berlin. For this project about 1000 hard foam objects in the size and shape of the original wall segments will be distributed to schools, societies, clubs, artists… to paint them. This project is especially addressed to a generation that was born after the events of 1989. As many younger people in Germany do not know about the “two Germanies” any more this shall give the opportunity to learn about this part of German history and express opinions, thoughts, questions and so on in art work.
    The Goethe-Institute will carry this project beyond Germany. We will transport a number of those wall segments to Goethe-Institutes abroad, mainly but not exclusively to countries in which borders are still present. In that way we want to offer a platform for people to express their opinions, dreams, thoughts, experiences with the phenomenon “wall”. The wall turns into art. The segments are brought back to Germany.
    In November all “stones” will stand on the line of the historic wall – but not as a wall but as dominoes. On 9th of November they will fall. The Senate plans for November 7th and 8th a big Festival of Freedom and a celebration on November 9th that as well is meant to be a happy event, celebrating the peaceful revolution of 1989.

    Paulo Lara and Luiza Valle
    Theatre of the Oppressed: Brazil, Parallels and Exercise
    The presentation is divided in 2 parts.
    On the first one, we will introduce the history and ideas of the Theatre of the Oppressed giving critical attention to its brazilian background, influences, and similarities such as Paulo Freire`s pedagogy of the oppressed, the theology of liberation and the music of Hermeto Pascoal. Then, we will try to think the notion of TO having in mind some issues mentioned in the idea of TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone). What the senses and feelings become when you transform the regular function of objects and spaces ? Which borders are broken and how others are established ?
    topics :
    • Augusto Boal
    • Theatre of the Opressed
    • Brazil in the 50` and 60`
    • Faith and Education, Music and the Body
    • Displacement of the spirit
    • Event, bands and borders
    On the second part, we will present an example of an exercise to provide to the participants the opportunity to experience the TO in the practice way, using the “ Forum Theatre”, a part of the trunk which built the tree representing the aspects of the TO.
    topic :
    Forum Theatre works from rehearsal improvisation to create a scene of a specific oppression. Using the Greek terms “protagonist” and “antagonist,” Forum Theatre seeks to show a person (the protagonist) who is trying to deal with an oppression and failing because of the resistance of one or more obstacles (the antagonists).
    Forum scenes can be virtual one-act plays or more often short scenes. In either case, a full presentation is offered to the audience. The joker (difficultator) then says to the audience we will do this again, and if you would do something different than what the protagonist (not the antagonists) is doing, stand up and yell stop. The protagonist will then sit down and the audience member is invited forward to show their solution of the moment. Once the intervention is performed, the audience invariably applauds, and the joker invites the audience to discuss the proposed solution, and to offer even more solutions.
    from: Augusto Boal – http://www.wwcd.org/action/Boal.html#WKSHPS

    Lin Chen, InterArts F. U. Berlin.
    The presentation is bout “re-creating the border with one’s body performance” It means I would like to take about Social performance theory in China.
    It is originated from Richard Schechner’s Human Performance theory. Because his performance theory is different from Chinese traditional performance theory, and in China, in order to show the differences, Shanghai Theatre Academy’s vice president Sun Huizhu has translated it as Human Performance Theory.
    It is developed to be a practical method to “through the analysis of individual’s daily performance to improve and help individuals to adapt to the human society and to survive better. Handle the front stage and back stage, and discipline the society roles to create a harmonious society.
    And what is more interesting is that nowadays in China all kinds of training center and training class are emerging, desperately and interesting. What they are advocating is also seems to be the same with the social performance theory. I would like to do some analysis.

    Ray Ganz:

    “Van Gogh’s Ear: New Voices In Radio Art”

    Author: Ricardo Amaral

    The Radia network was founded in 2004 to provide an audio space where something different can happen, a stage for the development of creative production practices that challenge traditional notions of what radio is and/or should be.
    The radio art projects developed within Radia during the last three years since it was created, are examined according to the concepts of border, media ecology and the networked self. As a media system, radio has, historically, evolved through changes between borders (individual/society, public/governmental, audible/inaudible, real/simulacrum, choice/participation, masculine/feminine, among others), which reflect an ever-changing relationship between the idiosyncrasies of technological transformations and the evolving needs and expectations of its audience.
    The analysis of all the radio artworks produced for the network between 2005 and 2008, including not only the audio files but also their textual descriptions, appears to support the argument that Radia’s artists have led to yet another reshaping of boundaries, defining a new conceptual border for radio art, through the use of radiophonic technology, techniques, modes of information and codes of communication for the production of artistic meaning. These findings seem to indicate a crucial step towards the self-determination of radio art, governed by its own aesthetic rules and principles.
    The new voices arguing for the severance with established notions of radio are as heterogeneous throughout the network as the cultural context that underlies them. If the strength of radio art lies in the common ground they share, its true scope can only be determined through the careful analysis of their differences.

    A Talk between Dietmar Kammerer and artist Raul Gschrey on the topics of surveillance, bodies, borders (cf. http://www.pro-ton.net/cctv/).
    Performing in surveillant space
    Visual surveillance of public spaces has noticeably increased in the past years. CCTV has become a common sight in the central areas of cities in Europe. But how does the existence of the “all seeing eye” change the behaviour of the object under surveillance? Is it a feeling of security that is initiated by the cameras or are they percieved as an intrusion into privacy? What relations are established between the watcher and the watched?
    German artist Raul Gschrey has explored the consequenes of CCTV in a number of art works. Especially in his public street performance he has investigated the notions of borders, bodies and surveillance. Raul Gschrey and academic researcher Dietmar Kammerer will discuss the experiences of performing in surveillant space.

    Miro Kaygalak
    qwx – show ur lingua
    „With a single glance at the underside of my tongue the teacher
    would control if I had spoken the forbidden language at home. When I
    was a child I still spoke my native tongue“ H.K., Diyarbakir
    To stick out your tongue is more than a universal sign of disobedience.
    The Errorist project is centred on the search for failures. Its art
    project “qwx – show ur lingua“ aims to counter the politics which
    homogenise the subjectivity of people living within the boundaries of
    Turkey, people who have a variety of ethnic and cultural identities.
    By prompting people to upload images of their tongues sticking out
    “qwx – show ur lingua“ aims to create a space of resistance.
    Within Turkish society subjects who resist and who live in opposition
    to the politics of homogenisation are regarded as traitors and are
    demonised by the Turkish state and by society at large. This
    demonization is not only a recourse to a mythical being to shape the
    political and historical perception of the other but also a symbol
    embedded into everyday language that invokes the unknown, the
    threatening, and the unintelligible.
    Sticking out your tongue deforms the submissive and pleasing
    expression power and authority expects to see. The face that sticks
    out its tongue disrespects power and authority by breaking codes of
    communication that are accepted socially. It provides the demonised
    other with the means to adopt an image attributed to him/herself and
    to re-signify it in a way that makes visible its internal other.
    The aim of the project is to combine the universal meaning of sticking
    out your tongue, disobedience, with the demands of the subjects which
    do not identify themselves as Turks and whose native tongues are not
    the official language. Those demands are the recognition of their
    difference and the right to education in their own languages.
    Our medium is our message!
    Why q, w, x?
    In Turkey 2002 the ban on publication in languages other than Turkish
    was finally abolished. It was followed by recognition of the right to
    give non-Turkish names to children. However, in this process, the
    boundary between the legal and the illegal has shifted continuously
    because of the government’s responses to daily practices. New symbols
    that define or represent the forbidden have surfaced: the letters Q, W
    and X. Because these letters do not exist in the official Turkish
    alphabet, their use in writings such as official documents,
    invitations, billboards, posters, etc. are interpreted as separatist
    propaganda which can and are legally prosecuted. Thus Q, W and X
    threaten the single-language politics of the state and, at the same
    time, are the very expression of exclusion. These letters show the
    errors of the system.
    The „qwx-show ur lingua“ project seeks to identify the errors in the
    political system of the Turkish republic. The project will make
    visible the cracks, the failures, by confronting the dominant symbolic
    order with the signs that have been repressed.

    W-B-B
    [Walking-Borders-Berlin]

    Cristóbal Bianchi
    Nicolás Salazar-Sutil
    Basic Lines

    This proposal consists of a workshop to be conducted during the Border & Performance Theatre Laboratory that will be realized on 20-23 of April in Berlin. The aim of the workshop is to use the ‘properties of border’ (as props) in order to draw a narrative or performance in different locations of the city. The walking will be realized in an open way to permit the creation of a generative narrative amongst the participants: given a point of departure/encounter each route will be drawn according to a series of contingencies, obstacles, interventions, impromptu events, recollections, dialogues and stories. What we hope to achieve with this walking is to elicit multiple imaginary borderlines crisscrossing the urban space and overlapping the concrete borders given a priori by the cityscape. The walking could be thus understood as a counter-performance, insofar as it uses the existing performance space of the city, and reworks it into a poetic event.

    Logistic

    In preparation to the seminar, participants will be divided into small groups (3-5 people).

    Each group will be led by a group-leader who will be chosen before-hand. It is perhaps advisable to have group leaders who know the city well. We do not discourage the possibility of also having group leaders who are alien to the city and the language, in order to encourage different layers of engagement between the participants and their walkings.

    The role of the group leaders will be to plan a trajectory through the city. These lines of flight will adapt to the contingencies encountered in situ and to the reactions or changes of plan offered by the participants. In the process, participants are encouraged to collect properties of border in the way of images, sounds, dialogues and graffiti.

    The different teams will regroup in a given venue, where the material will be shared not in the way of a formal conference panel, but at a party or social gathering. Hence the relaying of the material is once again blurred and de-bordered by the fluidity of the space. Images collected during the walkings will be projected on a screen, and sounds played alongside music.

    Joan Marie Kelly and Dr Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay

    Theatricalising Portraiture:

    Our presentation, based on the artist Joan Marie Kelly’s work, activism and artistic ethnography in Gaylang (Singapore) and Sonagachi (Calcutta, India), will rethink and contextualise the ideas of border and theatre. What we will seek to investigate is the idea of art as a means (activism) and the art-work as mere witness and residual in an ethnographic encounter involving the artist and the subject of portraiture. Joan Kelly paints portraits of migrant, illegal sex-workers in different sites and the work of painting is done in public places and is contextualised by all parties as a public activity (her activities are often reported in newspapers). The purpose of this artistic activism is to restore face to people who are considered as faceless. Our presentation will problematise the notions of performance and theatre and its place in everyday life of a community. Further, since the activity of painting portraits of underprivileged migrants implies transgressions and crossings of various kinds, including crossing of borders (social, cultural and even physical borders between countries), we have to, of necessity, look into the imaginaries of borders and how artistic activism helps to bridge these borders in order to reinforce sociality.

    Aleksander Motturi and Johannes Anyuru from Clandestino have written a play, “FÖRVARET” (The Detention Center)? The translation by Jeff Kinkle is available (and circulated to most of you already). The play will be performed at Göteborgs Stadsteater with premiere December 2009. They say they ‘think it is very good starting point for a discussion on the complexity of border surveillance seen from an inside the border control perspective, what happens with language of emotions in the context where the “not quite criminals”, those people who have been taken into “custody”, been placed in the “detention centre”, not beeing criminals for something that they have comitted but for a border they have transgressed. This is what me and Johannes have been working out in “Förvaret”.

    Hito Steyerl’s film The Empty Centre

    The first few paragraphs of an article on The Empty Centre by Christina Gerhardt

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/women_in_german_yearbook/v023/23.1gerhardt.html

    “Transnational Germany: Hito Steyerl’s Film Die leere Mitte and Two Hundred Years of Border Crossings”
    In Die leere Mitte (The Empty Center, 1998),2 a low budget and self-distributed documentary video, director and producer Hito Steyerl layers archival footage of Potsdamer Platz from various points in history, such as the Third Reich and the Cold War, with footage she shot of the site between 1990 and 1998, presenting viewers with a range of borders that have existed at this site over the past two hundred years. For example, during the fascist era Potsdamer Platz was the center of Berlin and of its political power. Then, it became the deadly margin—known as the death strip—that ran through a city rent asunder. Old borders, the voiceover says, are torn down, dismantled, displaced, and new ones appear. The film’s establishing shot affirms this message, showing people steadily chiseling away at the Berlin Wall and then cutting to a shot of a newly erected fence—standing between two remaining sections—in the place where the wall once stood.
    Hito Steyerl is both a filmmaker and a critic. Her writing—such as the volume Spricht die subaltern Deutsch? Migration und Postkoloniale Kritik (Does the Subaltern Speak German? Migration and Postcolonial Critique), co-edited with Encarnacíon Gutiérrez Rodriguez—engages questions of post-colonialism, globalization, racism, feminism, and transnationalism.3 She is both a theorizer and producer of films. Her films include Germany and Identity (1994), Land of Smiles (1996), Babenhausen (1997), Die leere Mitte (1998), and Normalität (Normality, 1999). Her most recent film, November (2004), which was a New York Times critic’s pick in 2004, is a short film based loosely on the life of Steyerl’s close friend Andrea Wolf. Prior to her assassination as a suspected Kurdish terrorist in 1998, Wolf was accused of being a member of the Red Army Faction in Germany. Steyerl’s films have been shown at festivals, such as the Berlin Bienniale (2004), the Dokumentarfilmfestival in Munich (2001), and the Feminale in Cologne (2000), and at art exhibits, such as the Documenta exhibit in Kassel (2007).
    Die leere Mitte, a 62-minute 16mm film on video, has been shown at international film festivals in Europe, such as the Berlin Biennale, in art museums, and at conferences. The film is featured alternately as a contribution to multicultural German studies, or to feminist or documentary film. And while Die leere Mitte presents itself as a documentary by adhering to conventions of the genre—such as drawing on stock footage from different eras, including a voiceover narrative and interviews with people framed in traditional medium shots and still frames—the film thwarts conventions of the genre through a wide variety of formal techniques. For example, it shifts abruptly from one time period to another, layering sound and shots from various eras that do not correspond. Yet gradually, over the course of the film, a rationale for the combination of the seemingly disparate elements emerges.
    The film’s thematic content is difficult to summarize due to its formal structure, which will be discussed in greater detail below. Nonetheless, Steyerl’s Die leere Mitte could be summed up by organizing the film’s sequences depicting various borders that have existed at Potsdamer Platz chronologically, which is not the order in which they appear in the film. For example, between 1743 and 1869, a customs wall (Zollmauer) ran through the area. After 1869, the film’s voiceover says, the customs wall was taken down because “it stood in the way of increasing industrialization” during the Wilhelmine Era. In the Weimar Era, Potsdamer Platz witnessed massive development, some of which was exclusionary in ways that shall be addressed. Subsequently, between 1933 and 1949, the area housed the New Reich’s Chancellery, designed for Adolf Hitler by architect Albert Speer, which was completed in 1939 and demolished after World War II when the two new German states were established in 1949. After the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, the former Potsdamer Platz became part of the death strip (Todesstreifen),4 a zone filled with mines that flanked each side of the Berlin wall and measured 500 meters at its widest point at Potsdamer Platz. In 1989, after the wall fell, anarchist punks squatted on the area until companies, two of which–Mercedes-Benz and SONY–are discussed in the film, began construction on the site. In these ways, the film considers the barriers that have existed at Potsdamer Platz over the past two hundred years.

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