Last update: 11.5.2013
Hans Jörg Michel
Neuer Text von Alexander Karschnia über den "kommenden Aufstand", die occupy-Bewegung und die "arabellion" in der Berliner Gazette
Gespräche über den (kommenden) Aufstand nach Schiller mit Helmut Draxler, Hans-Thies Lehmann, Geert Lovink und Alexander Karschnia
"The (coming) insurrection following Friedrich Schiler" is invited to the virtual nachtkritik theatre-meeting 2013!
The book KOMMANDO JOHANN FATZER edited by Alexander Karschnia and Michael Wehren (with texts on "FatzerBraz" and "Fatzer for Kids" by andcompany&Co. and tropical pictures by Jan Brokof) has just been published: Neofelis-Verlag
Alex Karschnia writes about contemporary activism with a look through Brechtian lenses: V for what?
Das "World Freud Center" in einem Videobeitrag zur großen Weltausstellung 2012 bei Spiegel online.
Sa 10.03. im Roten Salon/ Volksbühne Berlin:
Alexander Karschnia und Jan Brokof sprechen mit Peter Wawerzinek über Wolfgang Neuss
I guess it's possible that you guys first discovered capitalism in a golden tulip, but we Americans really developed it. Our industries invented products that everyone didn’t know they needed; a booming consumer culture built into Europe’s foundations after the war. But this still wasn’t enough. Our bankers began making money from money itself: packaging debt and betting against these deals. And when this wasn’t enough, we went to war with ancient civilizations, destroying them just to rebuild them into shopping malls for huge profits, but that was also still not enough. So finally, our wealthiest elites began to actually eat the American public. In the US we are experiencing a viral attack on everything that should be commonly owned, or not owned at all: our security, care in old age, education, natural resources, democratic government, our very culture. As we lose these things, our society is becoming un-glued, we are turning against each other like wolves. Unfortunately, we have exported this virus back to you, where it first originated. Here in New York, my Dutch friends, we may be living in your future. I’m writing to tell you that things have gotten really ugly on this side of the Atlantic, and we need your help before its too late.
Despite a perception by New Yorkers that we are at the center of the cultural universe, times have been tough for artists here. The glamorous art markets have not saved us, in fact they have enslaved us by our desires, making us so “hungry” that we’re willing to bite each others faces off for opportunities to enter this market which in reality only has a few winners and lots of losers. We had forgotten that as culture workers, we have a constant responsibility to stay vigilant against those who want to position us as jesters in their royal courts. We had fallen asleep. We dreamt that “political art” meant an expression of our favorite politics for a stage, or on a canvas, to be bought and sold and speculated on by the winners of capitalism. Waking up, we realize that there is no such genre as political art. In our times, only the economic structures around things are political. By letting the commonwealth of our culture morph into a big pyramid shaped market, by participating in this market, we were actually supporting a nasty position while we slept.
On September 17th, we finally woke up, came together, and opened up a space for protest and dialog in Zucotti Park. At Occupy Wall Street, we shared democratic tools developed in Egypt, Spain, Greece, and Brazil that would aid in this new culture. Our aim was to re-discover a culture of the commons and it caught on all over the place. Now we are involved in a global movement.
As it turned out, many of us occupiers are also artists. And now we have expanded the zone of protest into the cultural realm. We have begun occupying museums because economic injustice is as pronounced in the culture sphere as it is in the housing market. Museums claim to serve the public. They contain the symbols and narratives and treasures that we are all taught to believe in. But they have been co-opted by the 1% who sit on their boards influencing culture on one hand while also sitting on the auction house boards and speculating for personal gain on the other. In this way, power in the arts is concentrated and corrupt and this deeply disempowers most artists. So we held general assemblies at the gate of the Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center. Soon we were joined by large crowds. We aim to re-direct art away from the luxury markets and toward the common struggle and vision of the 99%.
I hear troubling rumors across the Atlantic. There are accusations in Holland that artists are sucking up public wealth like subsidized babies. This kind of rhetoric is a red flag for US artists. We know that in reality the wealthiest receive structural corporate welfare and keep their expanding riches offshore and immune from politics. To deflect criticism, they make artists into punching bags, that’s what happened years ago in our “culture wars” of the early 1990’s. I fear that the artists of Europe—especially our friends the Dutch, who have so long enjoyed support from the state that we New Yorkers could only dream of, will lose their autonomy from these hungry markets. The virus that wants to eat away the bonds that holds our society together is now infecting you. If you lose this battle, it will be a major setback for all of us.
But this nightmare need not become our reality. Let’s wake up and fight together!
Let’s not separate our art from this struggle, but use our creativity in the service of it.
Article by Alexander Karschnia about the major budget cuts in the arts in the Netherlands:
This is not only an issue of reducing material means for critical, independent and experimental art forms, this is a veritable cultural counterrevolution:
to sign an international petition, klick here!
And this is not only about the Netherlands! The danger is that the Netherlands are, once again, only ahead of its time. The most liberal country in Europe is turning into the most restrictive country - just as we have seen on the issue of migration. Just a few years ago the term "Hollandtest" was coined when the Netherlands used intimidating questionnaires for immigrants that were then also applied in Germany and elsewhere. For the right-extremist Geert Wilders who tolerates the current Dutch government, the arts are nothing but "left-wing hobbies"!
For free, independent theatre-makers the plan of the current government to stop funding the smaller production-houses in 2013 and only give money to eight state-theatres is a major backlash, an attempt to turn back time: Fourty years ago the Netherlands made major structural reforms that created a new perspective. The funding of big theatre-institutions was reduced in order to to distribute money directly to artists. This lead to an amazing cultural flowering, especially of independent theatre-artists and groups, the emergence of a new aesthetics, an unparalled innovation of new theatre-forms: the rise of what Hans-Thies Lehmann once called "the miracle of Dutch theatre". This development, which made the Netherlands a model for independent theatre-makers all around the world, is now becoming extinct. This is unacceptable and has to be responded to all over Europe and beyond. The Frascati has already hissed a black flagg - just as we did in 2004 when the TAT (Theater am Turm) in Frankfurt/M. was closed: Yo ho, artists & cultural activists, hoist your colors high!
Next demonstration is on the 19th of Septembre in Le Hague: www.marsderbeschaving.nl
On the 19th of Septembre in Rotterdam the geuzen returned to life to rehearse the rebellion: de opstand. And founded a facebook group: neo-geuzen.
Notes from the underground:
For four days a group of people were sitting in the rehearsal rooms of Frascati WG in Amsterdam for AN ACADEMY called We live here! The former Gasthuis used to be hospital that was turned into theatre after it had been squatted. Today the situation is different: theatres, some as old as Teatro Valle in Rome (1726) are being squatted in order to prevent them to be turned into a bingo hall. Time to take a look back in anger:
400 years of iconoclasm: from de opstand of the Low Lands to the cultural revolution in China (1566-1966). The two tomatoes that become Aktie Tomaat were thrown in a spirit of cultural revolution, their effect was a major reform in cultural policy. The whole system of funding was restructured and enabled a whole range of groups to start working on a professional level. „Let a hundred flowers bloom!“ as Mao once said. “Let not a hundred flowers bloom” is what Ivo van Hove said in his State of the Art Address in 2006. And then he quoted Ayn Rand. Since the beginning of the financial crisis she has had a renaissance. For some she is the ‘bolshevic of capital’. Her writing could be called ‘capitalist realism’. Or even ‘social-darwinist realism’. Her novels glorify the single strong one: EGO.
One can safely say that EGO was heard: “Tell me where have all the flowers gone!” is a famous US protest song that was adapted by Marlene Dietrich for her only appearance in postfascist West-Germany: Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind… The flowers will be beheaded just like the Dutch noblemen in Brussels during the inquisition. The artists from the visual field rather speak of a ‘new iconoclam’: vandalism through budget cuts. Artists are called ‘beggars’ in return by politicians. “N’ayez pas peur, Madame, ce ne sont que des gueux.” said a courtier to Margarethe of Parma when the Dutch nobles approached her with petitions: “Don’t worry, madame, they are only beggars.” Thus the noblemen dressed as beggars and called themselves from now on ‘geuzen’. Thus today the artists are the new geuzen – so we decided to rename the former Gasthuis into future Geuzenhuis!
Even in German the expression ‘geuzenword’ exists for the strategy to take on a term that was used in a derogatory way – like the contemporary ‘slut walks’ or the N-word in HipHop etc. So we ask everybody to dress up as a beggar and bring some nice signs written on cardboard with messages to hold them up for the politicians. Or bring mirrors (you can get them cheap in IKEA). You know what they say: “The artists are standing with the back to the audience – and with an open hand to the State.” Look who’s talking: a minority government that only came to power by letting itself being tolerated by a right-wing populist. So we are asking: Who is standing with the back to who? Isn’t that exactly what has been said for years about the political class in general? Is it possible that the politicians are just passing on the charge against them to artists? Like ‘contaminated financial papers’. That’s why we propose to bring mirrors. The message: “Beware of anything you say against us – the same thing could be said against you!” After all: who needs these bad performers in parliament? If the government doesn’t want to spend any state-money, what’s their function anymore? Let’s cut them first! Let’s gueux!
am 29.03. im DT Göttingen mit Alexander Karschnia und Nicola Nord als Wojo van Brouwer
Alex Karschnia über WUNDERKINDER in der Theaterzeitung des Deutschen Theater Göttingen: www.andco.de/index.php
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