Residenz-Topical Section 2: Breaking the Spell

Feminist Performance and Practices of Being Together
In cooperation with an international team of artists, the topical section “Breaking the Spell. Feminist Performance and Practices of Being Together” will develop, present and reflect new feminist languages as well as political perspectives of theatre and performance.

Point of departure is an observation regarding current theatre programming: Performance artists like Kate McIntosh or the Berlin collective SheShePop and productions that are yet to premiere like “Forces of Nature” by Ivana Müller or “The Juliet Duet” by Halla Ólafsdóttir and Erna Ómarsdóttir explore the essence of how we live together from a feminist awareness and try to overcome polarising divisions to imagine alternative communities. At the same time, they choose their artistic devices in such a way that new forms of political communication can emerge. With “Breaking the Spell”, we would like to give more room to such approaches during this season, and to explore their content in more depth. The concept of feminism does not necessarily have to be seen (only) as a topic, but rather as a logic, as a working structure.

We will invite artists and theoreticians who combine the visions of a creative feminism with the physicality of performance and the congregation with the audience. They practice the ecology of human relationships and appreciate them as productive work. They respond to the urgent challenges of today’s societies by building political strategies on the basis of empathy and mutual attentiveness. At the same time, they reflect a new materialism which focuses our attention and our senses on the perception of human and non-human environments (including plants, animals, landscapes) with the aim of learning from them. These artistic approaches are based on an unreserved curiosity towards others and the other. A curiosity that works towards encounters and not appropriation. A curiosity that requires the ability to listen rather than to provide answers.

“Breaking the Spell” also focuses on a tendency towards recent performative experiments of a smaller scale, unspectacular encounters that have sustained and whose impact persists. These are artistic practices that are deeply political with regard to their rhythms, their relationships with the audience and their view of time. They refuse to join the shrill competition for new and stridently presented ideas.

With this topical focus we will create a format for events ranging from artistic residencies, stage productions, presentations and exhibitions to workshops and seminars. The Residenz-venue at the former cotton-spinning mill will become a “container” that will serve as both physical space and metaphoric logic: It will host productions, encounters and discourse and accumulate knowledge. The container is not a material vessel of transportation but rather the vision of a performance space beyond the traditional dichotomy of “Black Box” and “White Cube”.

The project will be developed and headed together with Marta Keil and Grzegorz Reske, curators and dramaturgs from Warsaw. Their point of view is informed by the populism and the extreme social polarisation prevalent in Poland over the past five years. Increasingly nationalist tendencies, xenophobia, regresses regarding women’s rights, the denial of climate change and social injustices are doubtlessly phenomena to be observed worldwide, if perhaps in varying degrees and different manifestations. The Eastern European point of view can provide the inside view of an extreme form of social and political setbacks: Fundamental rights of women and the LGBTQ+-community are threatened and questioned, as are culture and freedom. This is why both curators bring a strong motivation to strengthen and develop feminist artistic practices that can highlight sustainable alternatives, that dare to consider and practise social relationships in new ways and that rely on the building of social relationships and a practice of listening and empathising in their work.

Marta Keil and Grzegorz Reske often operate as the curatorial tandem ResKeil. Their cooperation began in 2012, when they became artistic directors of the festival Konfrontacje Teatralne in Lublin (2013-2017) and turned it into one of the most important festivals of performing arts in Poland. One of their most recent works was “Common Ground” – a season at Komuna Warszawa (2020 – in cooperation with Tim Etchells).

Since 2019, they have been leading the Performing Arts Institutue (InSzPer) in Warsaw together with four other artists, an independent organisation that aims to promote the development of the independent performance scene in Poland. At Residenz, they collaborated with Lina Majdalanie and Rabih Mroué on the production “Last but not last” in 2020.
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In cooperation with Marta Keil & Grzegorz Reske, Warschau