Julian Hetzel (Utrecht) & Ntando Cele (Bern) / Artists in Residence
A solo performance by Studio Julian Hetzel (NL/ DE) and Ntando Cele (CH / ZA) about empathy and extractivism. SPAfrica explores the close connection between racism and capitalism through the conflicts over the raw material water. The performance is a hybrid experience combining theater, art and music. Water and tears serve as metaphors for the extraction of natural and emotional resources.

SPAfrica presents a sustainable product that is as contradictory as it is unambiguous: drinking water that comes from sub-Saharan regions and is imported to Europe on the one hand, and the tears of affluent Westerners on the other. On stage, the audience experiences the product presentation of "SPAfrica - the world's first empathy drink", whose business model is based on an unequal barter. The performance explores the relationship between water and water bodies and connects the extraction of natural resources with an expanded notion of extractivism. In this way, the project explores the limits of empathy. What if empathy is a practice and an active method that serves to reinforce privilege and power, rather than change and challenge them?

The artistic proposal goes beyond the commercialization of concrete materials and addresses the possibility of making like capital out of intangibles. In the international art market, the cultural background and identity of the protagonists have become valuable assets of value creation. It seems that trauma is the new gold of the arts. What does it take to turn a negative resource into a valuable commodity?
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Leipzig-Premiere on 08.06.2023

Performance in English with German surtitles




Concept: Julian Hetzel, Ntando Cele
Direction: Julian Hetzel
Dramaturg: Miguel Angel Melgares
Artistic advisor: Sodja Lotker, Khanyisile Mbongwa
Music & composition: Frank Wienk
Light design: Nico de Rooij
Technical coordination: Cesco van der Zwaag, Martijn van Noenen
Technicians: Bea Verbeek, Simon Kelaita, Wout Jansen
Technical solutions: Merijn Versnel, Guido Bevers
Production coordinator: Marieke van den Bosch
Kapstadt: Lungile Mbongwa
Galerist Cape Town: Mpilo Ngcukana
Production assistant: Jana Riese
Assistant costume designer: Merel van Erpers Roijaards
Mask artist: Carly Heathcote
Make-up artist: Julia Markow
Props: Saskia Hartog
Intern: Piet van Duijn Ferreira
Video documentation: Reynold Reynolds, Bongeka Ngcobo
Video performer: Revé Terborg


Produktion: Studio Julian Hetzel

Koproduktion: CAMPO Gent (BE), Theatre Vidy-Lausanne (CH), Schauspiel Leipzig (DE), SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht (NL), Auawirleben Festival, Bern (CH)
Supported by: Performing Arts Fund NL, City of Utrecht, Vriendenloterij Fund (NL), Onassis AiR Athens (GR)