Tag Archives: Bertolt Brecht

The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal (Minneapolis)

april11_walkerartcenter_img

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, “Act 00136,” 2009. Neon sign, 31-1/2 x 51-3/16 inches.
Courtesy waterside contemporary, London and Galeri NON, Istanbul.



Karen Mirza and Brad Butler
The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal
April 18–July 14, 2013

Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
T +1 612 375 7600

www.walkerart.org

The Walker Art Center presents The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal from April 18 through July 14, 2013, the first U.S. presentation of an ongoing project by London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler that has traveled to Canada, Egypt, Pakistan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

In 2007, Mirza and Butler found themselves inside Islamabad’s National Gallery, watching as mass protests by the Pakistani Lawyers’ Movement—and subsequent violence from government authorities—unfolded outside. For them, this experience became a dramatic example of the challenges that artists and museums face in reconciling aesthetic practices with contemporary social realities and political conditions. In response, the duo developed The Museum of Non Participation, a roaming expansive collection of audio-visual works, workshops, presentations, and other activities.

This April, Mirza and Butler transform the Walker’s Medtronic Gallery into a multilayered installation and evolving social space that situates “non participation” at the crux of the shifting allegiances, contracts, and “new deals” between nation states and their citizens. A selection of film and video works drawn from the fictional museum’s collection highlights the precarious nature of these relationships as witnessed through significant global events. Hold Your Ground (2012) intersperses documentary footage of demonstrations during the Arab Spring and Occupy London, amongst others, with the choreographed actions of a performer who both attempts to teach and struggles to speak. Direct Speech Acts, Act 00157 (2011) offers overlapping testimonies or “speech acts” from an actor, artist, and writer to reflect on the relationships between political speech and action. In The Exception and the Rule (2009), portraits of daily lives and public spaces in contemporary India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom reveal the continued entanglements of Empire.

Mirza and Butler debut two new works, the wall-based installation The New Deal and the opening-night performance, The Exception and the Rule. The former draws on the Walker’s history and collection to construct tensions between policies of the New Deal era and the United States’ role in envisioning the governing structures of Iraq during the ongoing occupation. The latter engages members of the Twin Cities community to interpret Bertolt Brecht’s 1929 tale of corruption, exploitation and injustice—drawing compelling parallels to today’s culture.

A series of short commissioned texts by Minneapolis-based and international contributors, published on the Walker’s website through the exhibition’s run, offer different constructions, interpretations, and definitions of non participation.

The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal is curated by Yesomi Umolu, with Susannah Bielak of the Walker Art Center.

About the artists

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler have worked together since 1998 with earlier works emerging from their interest in seminal avant-garde film. In 2004, they formed no.w.here, an artist-run organization that combines film production and critical dialogue on contemporary image making. The Museum of Non Participation was an Artangel project in 2009 and featured in The Museum Show at the Arnolfini, Bristol in 2011. Mirza and Butler’s work was recently shown at the Serpentine Gallery (London), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Kunstverein Medienturm (Graz), as well as in Transport for London’s Art on the Underground program. They were nominees for the 2012 Jarman Award. Mirza and Butler’s political alignment directly informs not only the content of their work but their collective approach to production.
www.museumofnonparticipation.org

Acknowledgements

The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Robert and Rebecca Pohlad.

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How can you be at home in an alien world? (Call for participation)

How can you be at home in an alien world?             

On the occasion of SKOR’s symposium Social Housing – Housing the Social, the members of Chto Delat and Ultra-red invite you to participate in a two-day seminar prior to the symposium and to perform a collaborative learning play on the first evening of the symposium.

DATES OF SEMINAR: 2–3.11.2011 (from 10 AM till midnight)

Learning Play on 4th of November at 9 PM

DATES OF SYMPOSIUM: 4–5.11.2011

LOCATION: Felix Meritis, Amsterdam

  … the metropolis is now the point of massive collision—dare we call it class struggle?—over the accumulation by dispossession visited upon the least well-off and the developmental drive that seeks to colonize space for the affluent . . . democratization of [the right to the city], and the construction of a broad social movement to enforce its will is imperative if the dispossessed are to take back the control which they have for so long been denied, and if they are to institute new modes of urbanization.

– David Harvey

The conditions within which Chto Delat and Ultra-red will take up their work on the theme of the social are those of the global financial crisis. The latter is often used to justify the dismantling of welfare states and the withdrawal of commitments to the notion of the commons that underlay their development in the first place. Now it is every atom for itself, situated in a vortex driven by the fatal master-slave dialectic between the private and the common.

The social is currently acknowledged as being a luxury we simply cannot afford. Thus, it must be sacrificed along with other public goods including education, health care, infrastructure and housing. This is more than simply a retreat from the social. It also permits the commodity value of former public goods to be realized and circulated within the systems of capitalist speculation. Volunteerism and self-help, once signatures of the social, are now co-opted to fill gaps resulting from the privatizing of property and services. In reaction to these dispossessions, citizens of cities in countries across the globe are occupying strategic urban spaces. These occupations – temporary productions of common space by the deterritorialized and expropriated on enemy terrain – are to be understood as an emphatic reclamation of rights repressed for decades. They direct us toward some fundamental questions. What is the social today? How has its construction changed? Why has it become so vulnerable to the attacks of capital and privatization? Why are ideas of the social so indispensable for the imagination of freedoms? How can we be at home in an alien world?

This seminar breaks with the conventions of discussions and conferences in order to promote a dialogical and investigative relationship to knowledge production. As we eat, talk and rehearse together, we will address and investigate ideas around collectivity and the politicized subject of “the social.” We will explore what political stakes may serve to bind us in solidarity to each other. And we will turn our surroundings into what Henri Lefebvre called a “representational space configured and changed to underscore our temporary occupation.”

The seminar will culminate in a staging of a Brechtian learning play during the first evening of the symposium. Using Bertolt Brecht’s learning-play model, Chto Delat and Ultra-red invite participants to collectively develop an educational didactic performance. Centered around the theme of the social but without fixed texts, participants are asked to develop and articulate their own position through the process of acquiring and advocating their attitudes.

_____

ABOUT THE ARTISTS COLLECTIVES

Chto Delat (What is to be done?)

The platform Chto Delat was founded in early 2003 in Petersburg with the goal of merging political theory, art and activism. The platform’s activity consists in developing a network of collective initiatives in Russia and setting them into an international context. The platform is coordinated by a workgroup of the same name. The collective initiatives developed inside the platform engage in a variety of art projects, including video works, installations, actions in public space, radio programs, and different forms of artistic research. During this seminar the platform will be represented by David Riff, Tsaplya (Olga Egorova) and Dmitry Vilensky.

Ultra-red

Founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists, Ultra-red has expanded to include artists, researchers and organizers from different social movements including the struggles of migration, anti-racism, participatory community development, and the politics of HIV/AIDS. By exploring acoustic space as enunciative of social relations, Ultra-red utilizes sound-based research to directly engage political struggle. With ten associates working in North America and Europe, Ultra-red pursue a dynamic exchange between art and political organizing producing radio broadcasts, performances, recordings, essays, and installations. Ultra-red members are currently conducting investigations in Los Angeles, New York, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Berlin and Oslo. During this seminar Ultra-red will be represented by Elliot Perkins, Robert Sember and Leonardo Vilchis.

NOTE: The seminar is limited to 20 participants. Participants must commit to attending the full seminar, which includes discussions, rehearsals and the staging of a learning play as a collective act on Friday, 4th of November. The organiser will provide only food for the duration of the seminar and entrance to the symposium. Sorry, but no support for accomodation is available because seminar is focused on local participants.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 23, 2011

Please send your motivation letters to:

Robert Sember: robert.sember@gmail.com (Ultra-red)

Dmitry Vilensky: dmvilen@gmail.com (Chto Delat)

Fleur van Muiswinkel: fleurvanmuiswinkel@gmail.com (curator affiliated with SKOR)

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The Empty Plan/Theatre for a New Time (Oslo)

www.kunsthalloslo.no

Anja Kirschner and David Panos: The Empty Plan

Trine Falch: Theatre for a New Time

May 14 — June 26, 2011

The exhibitions open on the evening of Friday 13th May with a screening of The Empty Plan at 18.00 (78 min.)
Performance by Trine Falch at 19.30.

Kunsthall Oslo is pleased to present two projects concerned with performance and politics, contemporary artistic reexaminations of the theory and practice of radical theatre. 

The Empty Plan is a new feature-length film by Anja Kirschner and David Panos that centres on Bertolt Brecht’s time in exile in Los Angeles. Theatre for a New Time is an exhibition produced by performance artist Trine Falch, presenting scenes from the radical, collectivist early years of the 40-year-old Norwegian institution Hålogaland Theatre.

The Empty Plan
Part documentary, part historical reconstruction and part melodrama, The Empty Plan (2010, 78 minutes) interrogates the relationship between theory and practice in the theatre of Bertolt Brecht. The film contrasts scenes from Brecht’s exile in Los Angeles with productions of his play The Mother (1931) in the Weimar Republic, New Deal America and post-war East Germany, exploring different modes of performance and their relation to changing historical and political circumstances. The title comes from Brecht’s Messingkauf Dialogues, an unfinished theoretical work written during his exile, which considers the possibilities of ‘committed art’ and its practical, theoretical and formal limits at a time when revolutionary mass movements had been defeated and theatre was supplanted by Hollywood cinema as the dominant form of popular entertainment.

Through the figures of Brecht, his collaborator Ruth Berlau and his wife, the actress Helene Weigel, the film reflects on conflicting personal, artistic and political ambitions, raising questions about the nature of art and the unrealised dream of its supersession through revolutionary practice.

Anja Kirschner (b.1977, Munich) and David Panos (b.1971, Athens) live and work in London. Their long-form narrative films collide popular culture references, historical research and literary tropes, and address contemporary aesthetic, social and political questions. Their productions involve amateurs, actors and specialists from other disciplines in the creation of speculative histories and spectacular fantasies that comment on social reality.

Theatre for a New Time
Theatre for a New Time presents scenes salvaged from the archives of the 40-year-old Norwegian institution Hålogaland Theatre, uncovering its beginnings as a radical 1970s collective that sought to reinvent theatre ‘in the service of the people’. The company attempted to apply the principles of the revolutionary left to cultural production, and intervened directly in political conflicts in their adopted community. Their antagonistic productions intentionally polarised opinion, and the questions their early experiments raised remain uncomfortable and mostly unanswered today. In February this year, performance artist Trine Falch assembled the members of this first generation of Hålogaland Theatre to produce a new work, Allmannateater, in the form of a series of public meetings.

This project led to the exhibition Falch has made for Kunsthall Oslo, which reworks materials from the archives of the theatre’s first decade, accompanied by a new performance from Falch herself. Kunsthall Oslo will also screen the 1974 television production of the play ‘Det e her æ høre tel’ (‘Here is where I belong’), and a newly-commissioned film of the Allmannateater production from Dramatikkens Hus, Oslo.

Trine Falch has worked in live art and experimental theatre since the 1980s. She dropped out of the Theatre Studies course at the University of Bergen in 1986 to work with Verdensteatret, and in 1988 she joined the influential performance collective Baktruppen. Baktruppen gained an international reputation for performance work that explored the boundaries of the genre, emphasising ideas over traditional performance skills. Since 2007 Falch has been working independently on a series of productions rooted in an exploration of theatre history.

Kunsthall Oslo would like to thank Dan Kidner; Kai Johnsen and Dramatikkens Hus; the cast of the Allmannateater; and NRK for their assistance. Kaja Rastad has made the models and Hilde Honerud has made the film from Dramatikkens hus.

The Empty Plan film production was funded by Arts Council England through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network, co-produced with City Projects and supported by Focal Point Gallery, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and Kunsthall Oslo.

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May Day: The Missing Stanza (Saint Petersburg)

May Day: The Missing Stanza

Directed by S. Krainykhvzlgliadov and Eugene Nevermind; voiceover texts by the directors and Bertolt Brecht

Who? The [May Day] column organized by the Center for Workers’ Mutual Aid (TsVR)

Today is May 1, 2011. The place: Petersburg.

TsVR’s column has been given a permit [to march] by the authorities. The groups planning to march in this column include trade unionists, the Rubezh union [of co-op garage owners], Novoprof [a newly formed trade unions association], organizations protesting the eviction of residents from [former factory and workers’] dormitories, the Petersburg Parents organization and school teachers, as well as university students and instructors who are in solidarity with them, leftist political groups, Autonomous Action, anarchists, the Pyotr Alexeev Resistance Movement (DSPA), and the Russian Socialist Movement.

May 1 is [officially known as] the Day of Labor and Spring, but the majority have come for a demonstration. May 1 is the only day of the year in Petersburg when it is permitted to march down the city’s central thoroughfare and voice one’s demands. All the other days of the year, the city is shut down tight against such demands. City Hall diverts protest actions to the ghetto of the bedroom districts and encircles them with metal detectors and ranks of riot police.

Activist: First, we’ve come to once again voice our civic stance. We’ve merged with TsVR’s May Day column in order to say once again to the authorities that we remember everything. We remember Parnas, and sooner or later someone will have to pay for this.

What? The police

Come here, they say.
You’re a good man.
You’re incorruptible.
But so is the lightning that strikes a house.
You don’t back down from what you said before.
But what was it that you said?
You’re honest: you say what’s on your mind.
But what’s on your mind?

Who? The oppressed

The classical Marxist definition of the state as a coercive apparatus remains true for Russia today. The police, the militia, and other [expletive deleted] are incapable of countenancing a critical stance towards the world they defend. Their argument is the billy club and superior numbers. [Russian] society has become inured to direct violence on the part of the state and right-wingers. The use of brute force has become the norm in politics. The crisis of political power and society exposes chains adorned with flowers.

Man off camera: He cannot tell me why those people were detained.
Police commander: So you’ve stopped your column and don’t want to go any further, right? So now you have to fold up your flags and disperse, or else you’ll be charged with an administrative offense.

You are bold,
But in the struggle against whom?
You are intelligent,
But whom does your intelligence serve?
You are not concerned about your own gain,
But whose gain are you concerned about?
You are a good friend,
But are you a good friend of good people?
Listen, friend!
We know you are our enemy.

Police commander: …cans of mace, paint cans, knives, and so forth – things [the law says] have to be investigated at a police precinct. […] As far as I know it was anarchists who were detained, on whom we found knives, cans of mace….
Man off camera: What sorts of knives?! Hunting knives? I also have a knife in my pocket: I always carry it.
Police commander: Well, I don’t [carry a knife].
Second man off camera: Did you search the fascists to see what they’re carrying?
Police commander: Fascists? There are no fascists here.

Who? Those who show solidarity

Activist: We have to stay here as long as possible, until a confrontation begins.
Man off camera: But what are we going to do if they took [the anarchists] away?
Activist: Let [the police] bring them back. It’s their fucking problem: they arrested part of [our] column.

Activist with megaphone: [This is] lawlessness directed against absolutely innocent people, against the participants of this demonstration. Comrades of ours who were marching in our TsVR column have just been arrested. These actions on the part of the police were not explained in any way. Therefore we are not moving this spot until our comrades and fellow marchers are released.

Forty members of our May Day demonstration have been arrested. For us, the demonstration is not a demonstration if our friends are not with us. Solidarity. So-li-da-ri-ty. It’s not a empty word for us, but rather the only means for confronting violence.

Petersburg, 2011

_____

Anarchists Arrested Ahead of May Day Celebrations
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
May 4, 2011

St. Petersburg authorities arrested dozens of anarchists and left-wing activists to prevent them from marching as part of the May Day demonstrations on Nevsky Prospekt on Sunday.

Spearheaded by St. Petersburg Governor and pro-Kremlin party United Russia member Valentina Matviyenko, a wide range of political parties and movements, trade unions and pressure groups took part in the demonstrations.

The main demands of the opposition in St. Petersburg were the dismissal of Matviyenko and the restoration of gubernatorial elections that were abolished by then-President Vladimir Putin in 2005.

More than 50 anarchists, including 14 minors, were approached by the police at the assembly point on Ligovsky Prospekt and arrested without any reason given, they say. Videos uploaded on anarchists’ web sites show them being dragged roughly into a police bus while trying to raise an anti-Nazi banner and shouting, “Down with the police state!”

The arrested activists were due to march as part of a column of leftist groups led by the Center for Workers’ Mutual Aid (TsVR), which had been authorized by City Hall. The other activists in the column refused to march until the anarchists were released, and remained at the gathering point, preventing columns of democrats and nationalists from moving forward for some time.

In a report on the TsVR Livejournal.com community blog, they said they stood on the spot for an hour and a half and left only when police threatened to disperse and arrest them.

According to Tatyana, an anarchist who did not wish her last name to appear in print, the arrested activists were charged with violating the regulations on holding public events and failing to obey police orders.

Later, seven more anarchists were arrested when they attempted to block the United Russia column — the largest group in the march, estimated by officials to number between 15,000 and 20,000 supporters — on Nevsky Prospekt. The police promptly dragged the anarchists away after they lay down on the ground and interlocked their arms. Later, two managed to escape from the police precinct they were taken to, while another two were sentenced to two and three days in prison, respectively.

Two years ago, more than 100 anarchists were arrested in a similar manner — despite having a permit from City Hall — before they started their May Day march, but last year they were allowed to march on Nevsky Prospekt. They moved down the street in a close group wrapped in banners, with their arms interlocked to counteract possible arrests.

Commenting on the arrests on 100 TV channel the same day, Matviyenko claimed that “every political party or group that was legal was allowed to march on Nevsky.”

Under the Soviets, people were asked to participate in marches to demonstrate their support for the state and the party either to obtain benefits or under mild threat. In modern Russia, the holiday has remained, though it has been renamed from International Workers’ Solidarity Day to Spring and Labor Day.

Although the ultranationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) was banned by Moscow City Court a week ahead of May Day, the nationalists had no problem in marching in St. Petersburg on Sunday. City Hall had authorized their demo when they applied as private citizens.

In the same television interview, Matviyenko denied that nationalists had taken part in the rallies, despite the fact that they marched on Nevsky with “imperial” Russian flags and nationalist banners.

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) activists were not authorized to take part in the marches by City Hall. They were invited to hold a standup meeting instead in a distant park, but late last week they were told that the site would be occupied by a different event.

City Hall’s new suggestion for the LGBT group Ravnopraviye (Equality) was to hold a meeting outside the city, at a location described by an activist as a field between a forest and a lake.

Eventually, a small group of LGBT activists joined the democratic group featuring the Yabloko Democratic Party and Solidarity Democratic Movement, marching with rainbow flags and posters.

One hundred and eighty activists of The Other Russia party, twelve members of which are under criminal investigation for alleged extremism, marched with the banner “You Can’t Jail Everybody” and shouted slogans against Putin and Matviyenko. No one was arrested.

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Kirill Medvedev: Literature Will Be Scrutinised

Kirill Medvedev

“Literature Will Be Scrutinised”: The Individual Project and the New Emotionalism

In distant Soviet times, I found Bertolt Brecht’s statement that “for art, not being a party member means belonging to the ruling party” the height of absurdity. Nowadays, this line has a different ring to it. It sounds okay. In any case, it makes you think.
Lev Rubinstein (in Grani.ru)

In order to talk about democracy (people power) we have to give the word “conviction” a new sense. It should mean: to convince people. Democracy is the power of arguments.
Bertolt Brecht, Me-Ti: The Book of Changes

The principal symptom of the cultural situation in today’s Russia is the crisis of the liberal-intelligentsia consciousness and its schism. For over fifty years the consciousness of this stratum consisted of two main components. The first component was the intelligentsia’s well-known anti-statism, its sense of empire (inherited from the revolutionary intelligentsia) as a repressive force. The second element, on the contrary, was inherited from the statist intelligentsia that had produced the famous Vekhi (“Landmarks”) almanac in 1909: the cult of private values and a hatred of everything “leftist,” everything that called the “bourgeois” into question; that is, a mindset that sanctified inequality and exploitation as the order of things. For the Vekhi crowd itself, this hatred was aggravated because they had dallied with Marxism in their youth. For the Soviet and post-Soviet intelligentsia, this hatred was stirred by their own genetic origins among those very same “socialists,” “destroyers,” and “lefties” who had planned and carried out the Revolution. While it was natural that it rejected Soviet (“imperial,” “collectivist”) reality, this type of consciousness became unbelievably hypertrophied. It was this stratum—a hodgepodge of dissidents, moderate frondeurs, crypto- or latent anti-Soviets—that captured the position of cultural hegemon in the nineties on the crest of a general anti-totalitarian wave and the collapse of the Soviet bureaucratic model. It was this stratum that rediscovered the culture that had been wholly or partly forbidden by the Soviet authorities. It was this stratum that set the tone in the press of those years. Using innocent slogans that seemed logical at the time, it was this stratum that threw its ideological weight behind the notorious reforms of the nineties. Continue reading

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