Hybrid Culture is Not Just Possible – It is Essential
Each art object and phenomenon exists in dialogue with all other art – past, present and future. Every artist is a part of this ongoing species conversation. The form and means of this conversation evolve along with us. Within our artistic language, we reimagine our world, and imagine a time and when those who are now possible – the multinational thieves, the corporate parasites, the guardians of their watchtowers – are nothing more than dark legends told as a cautionary tale.
Fire1000Poems! was conceived from its outset as a hybrid event that would take place in a live performance space – Theater HochX in Munich, Germany, but also on the web from Germany and the US. The organizing collective includes visual and sound artists, writers, actors, activists (including former political prisoners) and philosophers who are engaged in this ongoing project about prison and isolation as extensions of similar social trends in our society overall. This was originally conceived as a Fluxus style happening with a sense of evolving audience participation which would be video recorded each day and then interwoven into the following days’ performances. The first event was set to take place last November 3 for a live theater audience and livestreamed internationally. However, COVID meant the closure of the theater to live audiences. Instead, we used the theater to stage video broadcast performances of music, theater and our video discussions. Pods of contributors were brought to the stage and the web via Zoom video feeds on large screen monitors. We embraced the challenge of embarking on a new way of presenting theater that blurs the lines between audience and actors, virtual and face-to-face, past and present, art and action.
After our time at Theater HochX, we continued to evolve the project with ongoing panel discussions and performances based on the themes, “Is a true political art possible, and what does it look/sound like?” and “How do we connect authentically as human beings in virtual culture?” We are very happy to bring this production and its multilayered blending of visual art, new music, video and discussion to Thailand, incorporating and engaging collaborators and audiences from Thailand and South Asia as partners in this happening.
Throwing a stone is a criminal offense. Throwing 1000 stones is a political action. – Ulrike Meinhof
Theater HochX, Munich, November 3 – 6, 2020
Fire A 1000 Poems occupied Munich’s Theater HochX from November 3rd to 6th. Over the course of a week, the theater was turned into a discourse space that was closed to any public audience due to COVID. The starting point is former political prisoner Tim Blunk’s experience of solitary confinement at USP Marion. Locked down and separated from other prisoners, he discovered art as a means of ensuring his physical, psychological, and political survival. Through art-based correspondence, Tim connected with other political prisoners around the world.
Concept and idea: Michael Grossmann | Evening director: Jacqueline Reddington | Dramaturgy: Stella Grossmann | Cast: Tim Blunk, Paul Brody, Katharina Heißenhuber, Stefan Merki | Musicians: Paul Brody, Katharina Heißenhuber, Oliver Klenk | Compositions: Paul Brody, Reiko Füting, Sunbin Kim | Texts: Tim Blunk, Paul Brody, Michael Grossmann | VR videos: Michael Gebendorfer | Videos: Tim Blunk, Michael Gebendorfer, Michael Grossmann | Live video: Michael Gebendorfer | Photography: Denice Breaux, Rae Breaux, Rowin Breaux | MAZ technology: Christian Felder | Panel discussion moderation: Dr. Johanna Zorn
The isolation of the individual is transferred to the locking out of the audience. In the afternoons, five spectators are invited to a walk-in installation with reading, live concert and VR.
Video installation let in. For the discussions and readings at 8 p.m. (Central European Time,) the room is only accessible via live stream. What can be seen live and what is pre-produced, what is real and what is not, is blurred. A discursive examination of the political possibilities of art – not only in isolation.
The program for events, November 3 – 6 at Theater HochX (in German)
Stage Events and Musical Performances:
Stella Grossmann, Katharina Heißenhuber and Jacqueline Reddington have adapted the concept of the individual in total isolation onto a newscaster in a deserted area who is suddenly abandoned by her crew and loses connection to the main studio, leaving her isolated from the rest of the world. In an attempt to regain connection and to keep control over the situation, she continues to broadcast her episodes daily but eventually runs out of content, making her broadcasts more and more absurd the longer she stays alone. We see the newscaster on stage listening to her episodes since she was left alone and thinking/reflecting about her own situation, choices and handling of isolation.
Katharina Heißenhuber performs 9 Songs, composed by Reiko Füting and partly accompanied by Oliver Klenk, clarinet.
When composing, I generally do not think about categories. But it was different for this project: I wanted to write songs. And I wanted to call them songs as I wanted them to be direct and immediate. Generally, I am interested in composing interpretative spaces. But for the project I was interested in the pure power of the word, as I experienced it in the texts which touched me directly and immediately at my first encounter.
– Reiko Füting
Sunbin Kim’s composition deals with communication, distancing and alienation. It is loosely programmatic and drawn from two times and places (West Germany in late 1977, the United States in mid 2020). In this time, communication has become ever more distant, both physically and mentally. Human beings are social creatures, they need social bonds just as they need food and water. Many young working people seek second- or third-hand sources of sociality, they visit ASMR channels Youtube to fill the lack of intimacy, they form one-sided attachments with internet celebrities to fill a lack of real friendship, twitter fills the gap of talking to people. Kim’s piece will explore three „levels“ of communication as translated to music: real performance (live musicians), semblance of a performance (recordings, of both composed and quoted music), and artificial imitation of music with no performance at all (VST / MIDI sequencing). Reality is stifled and artificiality dominates. The theatrics of the piece depicts the desire, and indeed need, to perform after all, so the real music – the real message again and again creeps to the surface, but struggles to break out under the second- and third-hand layers. It will be performed by Katharina Heißenhuber (vocals) and Oliver Klenk (clarinet).
Livestreaming Links for Each Session:
Times listed below are Central European Time. (6 hours ahead of EST in November.)
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