Le Mouvement – Performing the City The 12th edition of the Swiss Sculpture Exhibition in 2014, curated by Gianni Jetzer and Chris Sharp, continues the innovative spirit of the format by offering the most radical edition yet. True to its provocative legacy of 60 years, Le Mouvement will challenge the very definition of public art by creating no sculpture at all. The 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition in Biel/Bienne will be solely dedicated to performance.
Symposium with the participation ofJean-Luc Nancy, Bojana Cvejić, Gianni Jetzer, André Lepecki, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Hans Rudolf Reust, Peter J. Schneemann, Chris Sharp, Thomas Strässle, Jan Verwoert, as well as the artists Alex Cecchetti, Christian Jankowski, Marko Lulić, and Ariana Reines
Le Mouvementis a multipart exhibition, which investigates the nature of sculpture and public space by hosting multiple performances in the town of Biel/Bienne. The show touches upon a variety of inter-related topics and issues, which include:
–The nature and uses of public space
–Art in public space
–The individual and collective body in public space—both static and in movement
–The relationship between the fleeting materiality of the body and the more permanent materiality of sculpture
Uniting a heterogeneous group of art historians, theorists, curators and artists to discuss these points, the symposium intends to harness the knowledge of these different disciplines in hopes of gaining a greater and more nuanced understanding of performance in public space and the current nature of public space itself.
In co-operation with the Contemporary Art History Department of the University of Bern, Bern, and Y Institute of the Bern University of the Arts (BUA), Bern
Symposium in English
French translation provided / Admission is free / Limited seating, please reserve email@example.com
Upcoming programming: Saturday, August 30 and Sunday, August 31, all three movements in parallel
Mouvement I – Sculptures on the Move
July 4–August 31
With reconfigured sculptures by Olivier Mosset, Franz Eggenschwiler, Carl Burckhardt, Max Bill and performances by Alex Cecchetti, Christian Jankowski, Marko Lulić, Ariana Reines
Mouvement II – Performing the City August 26–31
With performances in public space by luciana achugar, Alexandra Bachzetsis, Nina Beier, Trisha Brown, Pablo Bronstein, Eglè Budvytytè, Willi Dorner, Douglas Dunn, Simone Forti, Alicia Frankovich, Maria Hassabi, San Keller, Köppl/Začek, Jirí Kovanda, Germaine Kruip, Liz Magic Laser, Myriam Lefkowitz, Jérôme Leuba, Ieva Misevičiūtė, Alexandra Pirici, Prinz Gholam, Lin Yilin
Mouvement III – The City Performed August 30–November 2 Opening:August 30, 5pm
Kunsthaus CentrePasquArt, Biel/Bienne
Vito Acconci, Francis Alÿs, Pablo Bronstein, Stanley Brouwn, Trisha Brown, Paulo Bruscky, Martin Creed, Felipe Ehrenberg, VALIE EXPORT, Dara Friedman, Gelitin, Tomislav Gotovac, Alberto Greco, Anna Halprin, Maria Hassabi, Noritoshi Hirakawa, Sanja Iveković, Christian Jankowski, Jirí Kovanda, Liz Magic Laser, Klara Lidén, Marko Lulić, Babette Mangolte, Rachel Mason, Dave McKenzie, Dieter Meier, Ocaña, Neša Paripović, Ewa Partum, Alexandra Pirici, Miervaldis Polis, Kim Sooja, Mladen Stilinović, Beat Streuli, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ulla von Brandenburg, Ai Weiwei
Cleveland Institute of Art
11141 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106
What does it mean in contemporary art and design to be socially engaged? Are we talking about art that resists the conventional structures of the art world and re-imagines a new, unwieldy public sphere of social activism in the face of media spectacle and profit motives? Or can social practices in art reconcile aesthetic focus with external forces or agencies with regard for communities, perhaps affecting a timely catalyst for change? The recent spate of publications on what has been variously called community-based art, participatory art, collaborative art, relational art, social practice or socially engaged art, indicates that such questions have provoked a variety of studies that intellectually tackle what Shannon Jackson has noted as the “social turn.”
This conference, “Unruly Engagements: On the Social Turn in Contemporary Art and Design,” proposes to examine various approaches to social practices in both art and design in an effort to understand the concepts, terms, and varieties of engagement of the past two decades or so. Among our primary objectives is to facilitate public discourse on the feasibility of interventionist projects in art and design in urban environments, with special attention to “rust-belt” cities like Cleveland.
We invite presentations of conventional and unorthodox forms from artists, designers, and scholars on the topic. Prospective participants may submit proposals for short papers or examine specific works or activities that address the questions as noted. Suggested related themes may include but are not limited to:
–Socially engaged art and the new public sphere
–Artists as activists: voices from the Great Lakes region
–Historical precedents and present strategies of social practice
–Urban design and design in the city as force for change
–Aesthetics, ethics and politics
–Student agency and society: 21st-century visions of the art school
Please submit PDF-formatted abstracts of no more than 650 words, along with letter of interest and CV to:
Gary Sampson and José Carlos Teixeira, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference schedule and registration details will be posted in early autumn.
“Unruly Engagements” is a key component of Community Works: Artist as Social Agent, CIA’s yearlong commitment to exploring social agency and the visual arts.
The deadline for proposals is July 14.
About Shannon Jackson
Shannon Jackson is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in the Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. She is also the Director of the Arts Research Center. Professor Jackson was recently selected to receive a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for 2014–15. Her most recent book is Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge, 2011), and she is working on a book about The Builders Association. Her previous books are Lines of Activity: Performance, Historiography, and Hull-House Domesticity (2000) and Professing Performance: Theatre in the Academy from Philology to Performativity (2004).
About Cleveland Institute of Art
Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its programming to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; a robust continuing education program; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. For more information visit cia.edu.
Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires announces exhibitions of distinguished international artists Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich and Agustina Woodgate at the historic flour mill-turned-arts center.
Within the rich architectural and historical backdrop of the Faena Arts Center, Russian artist Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich will present a multi-layered performance piece in the Los Molinos Room, while Argentinian artist Agustina Woodgate will present a new site-specific work that will surpass the walls of the arts center and spill into the city with urban interventions. Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich: Fyodor’s Performance Carousel and Agustina Woodgate: GPS / Poetic Social Geometry is on view May 20 – June 8.
consists of a spectacular circular stage divided into nine parts, which will be installed for the first time in FAC’s Los Molinos Room. As it revolves, the carousel unveils various individual performances, challenging the usual concept of space and time in the visual arts. In his use of dizzying speed, which seeks to break the boundary of purely aesthetic experience, the artist pays homage to the Soviet movement known in the West as “Down with Shame,” which organized nudist marches and evenings to sweep away bourgeois morality. His work spans various media and disciplines, delving into the relationship between the hidden and the conspicuous, while emphasizing the communication between an artist and his public, and the role of rituals in the visual arts.
Born in Moscow, Pavlov-Andreevich divides his time between his native city, London, and São Paulo. His major works include My Mouth Is A Temple (2009, part of Marina Abramovic Presents at the Manchester International Festival, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Maria Balshaw); Hygiene (2009, Deitch Projects, New York); and Egobox (2010, curated by Klaus Biesenbach and RoseLee Goldberg).
GPS / Poetic Social Geometry
Agustina Woodgate was born in Buenos Aires and has lived in the United States for over a decade. Her work explores and encourages collective human encounters, rather than individual contemplation of produced objects. Her interdisciplinary and site-specific work GPS / Poetic Social Geometry will burst out from the confines of the Cathedral Room, with performances and interventions in the public spaces surrounding the installation itself, where visitors will encounter ordinary objects worn down or altered to the point of being intriguingly unrecognizable.
Following her graduation from the National University Institute of Art (IUNA) in 2004, Woodgate moved to Miami, where she developed an artistic practice that combines disciplines like textile art and street performance. Her individual projects include Organic (2005, Liquid Blue Gallery, Miami), Letting Down (2008, Spinello Gallery, Miami), Endlessly Falling (2009, Dimensions Variable, Miami), Growing Up (2010, Miami-Dade Public Library, Miami), If These Walls Could Talk (2011, Spinello Projects, Miami), New Landscapes (2012, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami), and Rugs (2014, Arts and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida).
Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich: Carousel May 20–26, 2014
Agustina Woodgate: GPS / Poetic Social Geometry May 20–June 8, 2014
Opening: May 20
Faena Arts Center
Aimé Paine 1169
Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
Argentina (1137) Hours: Saturday–Monday noon–7pm
Faena Arts Center Buenos Aires Under the guidance and overarching vision of Director/Chief Curator Ximena Caminos, the FAC is a center for arts and artistic experimentation, which presents groundbreaking site-specific installations and generates ideas and conversation with the international contemporary art world, and within its surrounding community of Buenos Aires. With 4,000 square meters of exhibition space in an emblematic turn-of-the-century building, the FAC fosters and encourages bold creativity on a monumental scale and is the heart and soul of the art district. The FAC is generously supported in its mission by HSBC and Citroën.
Inaugurated in 2011, the Faena Art Center has commissioned avant-garde artists to envision and realize major site-specific works, such as O bicho suspenso na paisagem, by Ernesto Neto (September 2011); Los Carpinteros by the Cuban collective of the same name (May 2012); Walking South by Franz Ackermann (November 2012); and The liminal space trilogy by the Russian collective AES+F (May 2013).
The New York School of Visual Arts is pleased to present two innovative summer residencies in public art, which introduce artists to the conceptual and practical considerations of expanding a studio practice into the public realm. Both programs are open to artists interested in moving from the traditional studio, gallery and theatre space into the urban arena. Visual artists, writers, architects, designers, performance artists, urban planners and social activists are invited to apply.
City as Site: Public Art as Social Intervention June 16–27, 2014 City as Site is a nomadic summer residency that explores the diverse communities that define New York City with the aim of creating site-specific public works and brings together artists, scholars and community members to think about the role of art in constructing space for civic dialogue. Participants will develop experimental models for an artistic practice that combine methods from the arts, activism, and other fields in order to cultivate innovative approaches to the construction of social spaces as works of art.
The residency will use New York City’s five boroughs as its classroom, engaging with its communities, histories and stories as materials for final projects. Interventions may take the form of tours, temporal installations, video or sound projections, performances, community involved projects, peer-to-peer platforms, print or online publication, or a one-time street event.
A faculty composed of leading artists and social entrepreneurs will help artists originate projects that reflect current social issues and guide collaborations with local businesses and neighborhoods, as well as cultural and governmental partners.
Faculty and guest lecturers will include Ofri Cnaani (visual artist), Kendal Henry (public art, urban design consultant; visual artist; curator), Ed Woodham (artist, founder and director, Art in Odd Places), Rachel Falcone & Michael Premo (Housing is a Human Right), Tom Finkelpearl (Queens Museum), Lisa Kim (Two Trees), Micaela Martegani (More Art), Jenny Polak (artist and activist), Todd Shalom (Elastic City), Radhika Subramaniam (Parsons The New School for Design), Charlie Todd (Improv Everywhere), Risë Wilson (The Laundromat Project & Robert Rauschenberg Foundation), Caroline Woolard (Our Goods & Trade School).
Reconfiguring Site: Art, Architecture and Activism in the Public Realm July 14–26, 2014 Making art in the public is no longer just placing an object in a public plaza, a monumental sculpture in a park or a memorial sculpture. Public art can be integrated into the landscape or digitally into the fabric of a building. It can be performative, ephemeral, digital or permanent. Many artists would like to make art in the public but feel overwhelmed by its challenges or by what is often seen as a compromise of one’s creative freedom. The restrictions imposed by a commissioning agency, as well as limitations of liability, money and recognition can also be confining for an artist.
This program is structured as a think-tank for public art. Participants will learn how to read from architectural plans and create an ephemeral work in the streets or a temporary work at a site suggested within NYC. Perfecting an existing proposal or developing one that can be realized at a later time will also be fundamental. In acknowledgement of the increasing threat of global warming, this summer’s residency will focus on the waterfront. Art and architecture serve integral functions in the redevelopment of waterfront areas, which have been affected by climate change. Residents will be encouraged to develop professional proposals, which engage a New York City-based waterfront site under the guidance of faculty members and guest lecturers.
Core faculty will include an artist, a public art curator/administrator and an urban planner/architect. Leading public art administrators will be among the guest speakers in the residency. Faculty and lecturers have included Charlotte Cohen, Craig Dykers, Eiko and Koma, Wendy Feuer, Anita Glesta, Kendal Henry, Barry Holden, Meredith Johnson, Anne Pasternak, Lauren Ross, Krzysztof Wodiczko and Nina Yankowitz.
Mischa Kuball’s public intervention Les Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers for Marl) both provokes and quotes Charles Baudelaire, yet at the same time, offers possibilities for identification for the inhabitants of Marl, who will be participating and are invited to bring along flowers: participation and discussion are the project’s two non-material components. The distinctive logo made up of white illuminated letters positioned high above the museum on the upper edge of the Town Hall’s façade becomes a kind of signpost, visible from afar, to the Sculpture Museum and the large vase of flowers on the left adjacent to the stairs is to be understood as an invitation to the townsfolk to bring along the aforementioned flowers for Marl and to put them in this prominently placed receptacle. It is situated immediately next to the stairs to the Register Office in the upper floor of the Town Hall—plenty of reasons then for bringing flowers! The vase and its contents will be tended by employees from the Sculpture Museum.
Mischa Kuball, conceptual artist, has developed a site-specific concept which he calls a “public preposition,” or in other words, suggestions and ideas for the public and for public space. The installation itself, planned as a temporary artwork, could also become a more permanent fixture; the artist would like to determine the actual duration of the installation in consultation with the people of Marl.
In the form of his project series “public prepositions,” Mischa Kuball repeatedly poses the question of the contemporary definition of public art within an extended context. He always begins with a precise analysis of the site where the interventions are to take place, and this approach includes an engagement with the public which has become an established feature of his artistic position.
Every place has its social and political peculiarities which the artist incorporates into his planning. His works tend to be temporary because they are geared towards the potential of an altered perception of seemingly familiar urban contexts.
Mischa Kuball has realised such concepts in different cities at home and abroad, including the work Intervento in the Caserma Cornoldi in Venice, as well as his Marfa Floater, silver / gold in Marfa, Texas, GhostTram in Katowice, Poland and his current contribution solidarity grid in Christchurch, New Zealand as part of the SCAPE Public Art Christchurch Biennial. A total of over fifteen comparable “public preposition” projects are to be published in book format, which means that the intervention in Marl will rub shoulders with works in an international context.
This project was kindly supported by the Ministry for Families, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the City of Marl and realised by Elektro Decker, Essen.
Mischa Kuball Born in 1959 in Düsseldorf, Germany, lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany
Mischa Kuball has been working since 1984 in public and museum-based spaces. Using light in installations and photography, he explores architectural spaces and their social and political discourses. He reflects a full range of differing facets from cultural social structures all the way to architectural interventions that highlight or recode the overall emblematic character and architectural/historical context. Public and private space coalesce in his political, participatory projects. They enable a form of communication between participants, the artist himself, the artwork and urban space.
Since 2007, Mischa Kuball has been professor for media art at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne where he founded the -1/MinusEins Experimentallabor (Experimental Laboratory).
How to do things with[out] words March 22–September 21, 2014
The project, a laboratory situation including installations, workshops, and performances, will explore questions of how art deals with reality in a performative way.
CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo Av. Constitución, 23
Spain Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11–21h Intensity days: March 22, May 10, and September 20 www.ca2m.org
Curator: Chantal Pontbriand
With Mathieu Abonnenc, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Brad Butler & Karen Mirza, Geneviève Cadieux, Jean-Pierre Cometti, Adrian Dan, Angela Detanico & Rafael Lain, Carole Douillard, Cevdet Erek, Köken Ergun, Esther Ferrer, Chiara Fumai, Ryan Gander, Simon Fujiwara, Dora García, Camille Henrot, Sandra Johnston, Amelia Jones, Latifa Laâbissi, La Ribot, Ines Lechleitner, Franck Leibovici, Cristina Lucas, Haroon Mirza, Antonio Negri, Roman Ondák, Falke Pisano, Chantal Pontbriand, Chloé Quenum, Pedro Reyes, José Antonio Sánchez, Julião Sarmento, Ulla von Brandenburg, Carey Young and Héctor Zamora
Performance and performativity are centre stage at this time. The fact that we are living more and more in an “immaterial” world, dominated by mediatisation, the impact of globalization, the increasing tendency to think of politics as biopolitics, these different factors enhance performance over materiality, or object making. Performativity explores the space in-between, what happens when bodies or objects are left to perform. To perform is to enable oneself or things to work through form. And to let form speak for itself.
Performing and performance are concepts that activate reality. In this sense, performativity (what performing and performance activate) offers resistance against a homogenization of the world. It leads to renewal, change, and expands the potentiality of things and beings.
An exhibition/event This exhibition, conceived as an event, will enhance performativity and the way it works, the way it performs itself. It will include objects, media as well as bodies. It will be “live” at all times, as installations, photography, films, performances, discussions, inhabit the space of the museum.
The subtitle of the exhibition, given by the concept “per / form,” is driven from John Langshaw Austin, the English philosopher who was one of the founders of analytical philosophy and pragmatics. In 1955, he gave a lecture called “How to do Things with Words” in which he explores the relationships between acts and language. The book published in 1962 is often quoted when discussing performance and art. This exhibition further explores that relationship through different situations proposed by the exhibition format itself and by the works presented and activated in its midst.
The project, a laboratory situation including installations, workshops, and performances, will explore these questions of how art deals with reality in a performative way. The project consists of different modes of “display”: the exhibition per se which brings together 16 installation works, some of which include live elements, others which can be activated live in different ways, in situ works, and performative situations which will be concentrated in three days throughout the project. These are the Intensity Days, March 22, May 10 and September 21. During these days, there will be further activation of some of the installations, workshops, talks, discussions, and performances. The Intensity Lab, a space included in the exhibition, will host some of the the later, and archival material corresponding to the whole project and its developments.
Chantal Pontbriand is art critic and curator. Her work is based on the exploration of questions of globalization and artistic heterogeneity. Since 1970, she has curated numerous international contemporary art events: exhibitions, international festivals and international conferences, mainly in photography, video, performance, dance and multimedia installation. She founded PARACHUTE contemporary art magazine in 1975 and acted as publisher/editor until 2007. In 1982 she was president and director of the FIND (Festival International de Nouvelle Danse), in Montreal. She was appointed Head of Exhibition Research and Development at Tate Modern in London in 2010 and since then lives in Paris and has founded PONTBRIAND W.O.R.K.S [We_Others and myself_Research_Knowledge_
Per/Form: the book A book will be published including texts by Jean-Pierre Cometti, Amelia Jones, Antonio Negri, Chantal Pontbriand, and José Antonio Sanchez. The artists will contribute to the book in the form of visual essays. Editor: Chantal Pontbriand. Designer: Agnès Dahan. Publisher: CA2M / Sternberg Press.
A mobile workshop, seminar, performance, between Berlin and Luneberg August 14, 2013
Leaving from Berlin Haupbahnhof, concluding at the Post Media Lab in Luneberg
Organized by micha cárdenas with support from the Post Media Lab
Featuring the work of: Zach Blas / micha cárdenas / Tikul / NM Rosen / Pinar Yoldas
We are safe when we walk.
We have walked for generations.
Your colonial regimes want to stop us, name and identify us.
We won’t be stopped by your policing violence,
We won’t be named by your regimes.
From Oscar Grant, a black man killed in San Francisco at a public train station by private train police, to the 2012 sexual assault of a woman by a group of men on bus in New Delhi, India, repeatedly the promises of urban mobility are belied by the violence that is used to police spaces of transit and the ways that access to mobility is regulated. This performance / seminar will consider the themes of mobility, violence and access, using the actual space of transit, the train and train station, as the space of performance, discussion and presentation. The performance is part of the project Local Autonomy Networks, by micha cárdenas, which works towards networks of community based responses to violence through performance and dance. This part of the series will consider how trans-local networks of safety can be imagined within spaces which are intensely regulated yet fall between the lines of local regulations. Engaging with the Post Media Lab’s theme of Organization After Networks, this performance will consider how communities can organize for safety after their lives have been shaped by inter-urban and transnational transportation networks.
Themes to be addressed:
The cloud versus a home / colonial dream of mobility versus de-colonial construction
Safety in Numbers / Gendering of Public Space
The Itinerant scholar / the safe itinerant / the itinerant artist
The Insecurity of mobility / gender/sexuality/race in transit and across borders
From passport checks to biometric mobility controls
Ticketing systems / E-Ticketing
The price of speed / The cost of easy border crossing
Mobile Public Space / From Public to Corporate Transit / Public Interstitial Space
The promise of mobility / Disability and access
Inspired by The Political Equator my daily sense of danger and my daily experiences of harassment and violence (micha cárdenas)
To join, use the following itinerary for DB
Halt Datum Zeit Gleis Fahrt Reservierung
Berlin Hbf (tief) 14.08. ab 12:16 7
Hamburg Hbf 14.08. an 13:57 5a/b, ICE 1612
Hamburg Hbf 14.08. ab 14:53 14a/b
Lüneburg 14.08. an 15:25 1, ICE 681
Whatever these words conjure up in your imagination, I can assure you the reality is even more fabulous. All they want is your pleasure – and a little bit of pain… you can try to resist all you like, but ultimately you will succumb to the force and magic of their charms.
“We love you. We must be together!”
I always secretly wanted to be a cabaret singer – 30s Paris, 20s Berlin – and having just decided to commit myself to being more open to decadent pleasures and dedicated to trying new experiences on my return to Berlin – the capital of modern day licentious behaviour, when I am presented with the unexpected opportunity to do just that.
The trio of travelers I am idly watching at Helsinki airport as they check-in before me has something strangely alluring about them – so I keep sneaking glances as we wait to board the plane, and then again while disembarking. A kind of vaudeville style that makes me want to run away with them or at least find out who they are. I wonder again to myself as I wait for my luggage, “Who are you people?”
I summon up my courage at the last minute, take a deep breath, and walk up as they are met by their friend outside the gates. “Hi, excuse me, are you doing a show?” I ask, and when they smile and confirm “yes”, I continue: “do you have any fliers?”. So I find myself at 4am in an underground Berlin club, chanting “SADO OPERA!” along with their fans. The gig is somewhat outside my usual range of experimental music and sound art, so I’m glad that I did follow that impulse to say hello, or I would never know who they were, and I wouldn’t have missed experiencing SADO OPERA for the world.
They start with a bang, “Fire on the dance floor, fire at the taco bell – danger! Danger! High Voltage! When we touch, when we kiss”… and I am transfixed. High energy doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling of their show – I am electrified from the very first song, following a brilliant cinematic trailer build-up which could fill a stadium with fans screaming their name “SADO OPERA!” in a booming voice from the brilliant drummer/musical maestro the Android. Their comic magic and hardcore antics only get more intense and wild from here, with glitter hearts and a driving beat, melding into the beautifully debauched cabaret that is SADO OPERA live as the indefatigable presence of Herr Oberst (the Colonel) and the debauched antics of Magic Doll, Psycho Rabbit and Pierrot the Trickster drive the crowd into a frenzy. It’s four in the morning in an underground Berlin club, and the audience is high on pure adulation and adrenaline. The truly dynamic energy with which they attacked their original material is well matched by the exorbitant streams of glitter hearts and shiny confetti that were nearly constantly exploded onto the now-manic audience crowded into the Naherholung Sternchen in Berlin Mitte, behind the Rathaus and Kino International.
I am blown away by the ability of these five electro punk Russians to raise the energy of the room and create a sense of sheer spectacleusing their original music, magic dust, stage presence – and a LOT of glitter! – that will translate easily from the Tal Der Verwirrung party to a stadium filled with thousands of screaming fans. Their free spirits and philosophy of “aggressive hedonism” – enhancing pleasure and love with sexual freedom – are evident in their style and the way they engage with the crowd, bringing a light-hearted feeling to some edgy material, with songs touching on different aspects of sexuality.
The tongue-in-cheek comic magic tricks are ludicrous, however this is truly overcome by the sheer conviction with which they are performed – “Russian Magic, ladies and gentlemen! Magic! Magic!” but I leave you to discover the details yourself, when you will no doubt find your destiny as you are drawn to the love vibes emitted by SADO OPERA across the globe. I look forward to seeing SADO OPERA taking over the stage again to blow you away with their decadent spectacular.
“Magic powder” and “sexually enhanced” pleasure candies may have contributed to the overall effect, but the main impact of the show, which kept me transfixed throughout was entirely due to the artistry, good humour, purely decadent generosity and presence with which these remarkable performers grabbed our hearts and exploded them into a thousand glittering pieces with their debauched love bombs… I for one, will never be the same again, for which I am profoundly thankful!
SADO OPERA are given over to decadence and sensual indulgence and they want to help you, with the promise to change all that for anyone brave enough to take their magic trip… The show has a light touch, which combines humour, obscenity and absurdity, as evidenced in the upbeat chorus chant: “Be Obscene!” their tongue in cheek cover of Marilyn Manson’s song “mOBSCENE.”
The more hardcore aspects are conducted with a touch of gentility – aggressive but with elegance, as Herr Oberst describes. During their show, an over excited fan sprays his beer over the performers and is fiercely admonished by the row of enthusiastic devoted female fans in the front row. This reinforces the underlying message, if there is one beyond “pure decadence and debauchery!” that is: Yes! be sexually depraved and be outrageous, be obscene but do it with charm, do it with style, do it with wit, respect, intelligence and elegance.
As the group comes from St Petersburg, I am intrigued by the sense of truly subversive energy that is intimately bound into their aura of decadence, which has an edge beyond most of the alternative cabaret I’ve seen, and want to know more about their perspective on living and working in Russia, so arrange to meet where they promise to satisfy my curiosity.
When I interview Herr Oberst (the Colonel) and Magic Doll, despite their claim to have given me the special pleasure candies, it truly doesn’t take any magic to fall completely under the spell of these utterly charming, delightfully articulate, debauched and enchanting characters. Their unique blend of absurdity, joyful sexuality and outrageous flirtation continues off-stage as we delve into the questions I have about what the intentions behind their “act” and the message of freedom to express yourself with pleasure and love that they wish to share with people everywhere.
We start our conversation naked – as people’s inhibitions fall away with their clothes simply on being in the same room… They promise to demonstrate their philosophy of “aggressive hedonism” with me after the interview. I comment that my friend who came to the show was too scared to eat the candy, he really thought it would have some serious effect on him.
The Colonel replies: “Smart of him! Did he eat it in the end, though? NO. But this is typical for the human psyche to be afraid of the pleasure you can get. We are like doctors, we are helping people to fight with these psychological blocks in their mind, and not to be afraid of the highest pleasure they can get – we are trying to teach… and this is partly one of the messages of our show. For example, like anal sex – a lot of young girls are afraid of this, some boys are afraid of this – but in the end if they find the proper teacher, they discover the real art of pleasure. Not in this primitive penis vagina sex which is just typical for animals, or for people who don’t really want to think…”
And so we dive straight into the deep end with my first question eliciting a panegyric to the joys of anal sex. Much like the Ancient Greeks, Sado Opera truly believe this holds the key to a heightened experience of sexual pleasure in its deepest and most spiritual form. I didn’t even have a religious education and yet I still seem to have absorbed the guilt about pleasure and mythology that our culture surrounds sex with shame and sin, and haven’t entirely broken free of these constrictions. Maybe Sado Opera can help…
I ask if Berlin is more or less hedonistic than St Petersburg, and the Colonel replies: “Yes, definitely Berlin is a more hedonistic city than St Petersburg, and many other cities in the world. It is easier to help people in Berlin than to help people in St Petersburg, that’s what I can say – but at the same time we are still going to continue working with people in Russia as well, because who else can help them if not us?”
Apparently you are the only electro punk cabaret in St Petersburg? Is this true?
“It looks like at least – we were trying to find some colleagues, but we never saw them. Maybe they were hiding somewhere because of the high level of homophobia and xenophobia and other phobias,” Magic Doll interrupts “magic phobia,” the Colonel continues “and love phobia, which is very common in Russia. The love phobia is one of the main problems of people now.”
Really? The fear of love.. and during the set you also say that in Russia this song is illegal, and there was a lot of protest recently about homosexual rights in Russia. Is it legal or illegal to be homosexual in Russia?
C: “It is illegal to be homosexual in Russia. Illegal to be sexual, illegal to be lovable, illegal to be yourself – that is why people really are forced to pretend and they are filled with tension, on every step. And we really love people, that is why we feel responsibility to help them and to save them from all this shit.”
Magic Doll: “Yes, but Russia is a great country. Please, when you have time visit the Red Square, (Colonel: “and get naked there”) you’re going to see Lenin, that’s the guy who made the revolution, that’s fun, and you can see the parade of the big military Russian forces, and this “Big Ben” at the red square, and a lot of police guys…
Colonel: “Police, police is everywhere, that’s what Russia is famous for! Men in uniform everywhere, but they are very tensioned and unfortunately they don’t let themselves explore and be themselves again. That is why they feel very nervous when they see us, unfortunately we sometimes even had not a nice cases happening with the Russian police – because they probably feel that they want to embrace, lick us, kiss us and give their bodies to us for us to do something to them – but they are afraid of that.. we understand that, we forgive them, and we wish them only happiness…” Magic Doll: “and love!”
That’s so beautiful, I can feel the love in the room. It seems that you’re coming from quite a serious social-political context, and you’re like, bursting with energy and life and you’re really pushing something that is not at all hard or heavy but just beautiful and exploding with excitement and joy – and I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about this and where you’re coming from?
C: Well it’s a very long story, because it starts in 1772, when the Marquis de Sade and his servants just hired four prostitutes in Marseille for a big orgy. They were feeding them with the sexual stimulating candies which we are usually feeding everybody – so anyway, we are the descendants of the Marquis de Sade and his servants, or these four prostitutes –
JR: You’re the direct descendants of the Marquis de Sade?
C: Not the direct descendants, but maybe of his servants – it also was connected with these four prostitutes
MD: But for sure, yes – my grandma she was a prostitute, I’m not ashamed of that
C: We hope that at least one drop of the Marquis de Sade was in each of us . Maybe even more. Anyway, what is special about this story is that Marquis de Sade never had any vagina contact with women – like all of us – he only liked them, how is it – more appropriate to say on this radio interview? In the ass! That is why all these prostitutes, got pregnant – through the ass, which is possible.
JR: Now you’re really stretching my credibility…
MD: Not only pregnant through the ass but also giving birth through the ass, which is proved in the documents, and actually the first case in history when children were born through the ass…
C: But anyway, in returning to this birth from the ass – you can also see it in some of our shows. We have a magic trick, in German we call it arsch-geboren-kinder – we didn’t do it this time – it is a very special trick.
I have to speak a little about the characters of our show – Magic Doll is definitely the one who is responsible for all magic in the show. I am the Colonel, I am responsible for all military stuff, for fame, power, commanding – everything I like. We also have the Psycho Rabbit, Frau aus Moskau, we have the little Pierrot the Trickster, and he is responsible for all trickster stuff.” Magic Doll: “I don’t know if you noticed, he is always trying to spoil the show?”
Surely you need some trickster element to keep you on your toes, otherwise you’d all be all loved up all the time?
“Yes definitely, and there is Android, the drummer and the sound engineer – who is German. And we only have German sound engineers and German drummers because they are so attentive, much more attentive than Russians.”
I don’t know if this is like, a stereotype, I have this image of Russians as being very wild and free-spirited, a little bit chaotic, a little bit intense, prone to, like drama and poetry and passion…
“It is true. This stereotype is true. Well, actually, this is a funny thing, because we once had this question in the interview, about stereotypes – but we just had to admit that almost all stereotypes about Russia are true, in the world… I mean, not really extreme ones like bears on the street, but I think in some places really it happens, at least wolves are coming and stealing dogs in the wintertime.. but the stereotype that Russian men are aggressive, drinking too much, that they are not polite, that they don’t respect your privacy and women are really highly discriminated – this is all true.
The thing about free spirit, is probably also true but we don’t really notice it in the majority. It is probably lying deep in the Russian mentality, and if you discover it maybe Russians are – more open to the possibilities of spiritual development than a lot of Western people – I am certainly talking about the majority, But they don’t really notice it often, unfortunately, but we are trying to do this…”
This is really part of your mission, to release this freedom in everyone?
Colonel: “Yes, yes sure! And as well, to take the best details from all these things which I just described, but sometimes it is good to be a little bit aggressive, but just a little bit – to stay elegant, and female discrimination is also sweet…”
Magic Doll: “Yes, but for sure, we are proud of representing Russia and being a part of Russian culture in a way, because if you close your eyes and try not to mention all the really bad and hard things which are happening – for sure we are proud of Russian literature and cultural background”
Colonel: “and I am proud of the Russian military force, you know, those big rockets and guns… ooooh” Magic Doll: “and actually when you look on the map and you see how big is Russia, that’s really impressive”
JR: So how did you two spawn of the Marquis de Sade end up in St Petersburg? How were you brought together? Was it on the streets of St Petersburg, was it in a lion’s den, at your mother’s breast?
Magic Doll: “Destiny”
Colonel: “Yes, destiny brought us together”
MD: “and how did you meet Maestro and me and psycho rabbit”
C: “I don’t remember, I think that it was in the church, maybe traveling, I don’t really remember it was such a long time ago. You know we are all very spiritual? We are Pagans, we don’t really belong to any official religion, but we really respect all the temples, all the magic rituals – we really like the magic rituals.”
MD: “So when I was studying at the magic school and I got a course of prediction, and I predicted myself a big orgy, where I gonna meet three strange people who are also not the same like regular humans, and I predicted it to myself, and I came to this place which I saw in my crystal ball, and they really were there and waiting for me – and of course we had some sexually stimulating candies which I also learned to cook, in this magic school, and then, when the orgy was already in progress, I suddenly realised that they are all my very close relatives, who I never saw before, but they have the special sign on the body, which we all have, all the descendants of Marquis…”
C: “Which you can see now, Jodi!”
MD: “Our grandmothers put this sign on each of us so that we could find ourselves in the world – so that we can recognise each other”
JR: “I have a magic circle, just here – is this the sign?”
C: “A magic circle, oh my god, we found a new sister! Certainly.”
MD: “But it’s not only the magic circle that…”
You reminded me of something, in your spiel, on the internet – you say that you will tell my fortune and you will heal my broken heart, and I’d quite like to have my fortune told… and my broken heart healed!
C. “But this is a magic secret ritual, we cannot make it when the microphone is on… but we are ready to do this. You really have a broken heart?”
MD: “and also because there is no one way to heal the broken heart, and if we now try to show it on radio, live and then people would try to do it themselves at home, the heart can be even more broken, that is why.”
C: “It is dangerous”
MD: “Yes, don’t try to repeat this at home – it is always very very special, and we have this personal touch in healing the broken heart, and everybody is welcome, you just have to come to our show or contact us and we really would love to help you. Because, heart should be loving and not broken. No, not broken.”
C: “As we mentioned during the last show – magic – real magic, hurts. So, be careful!”
I will consider myself warned… Thank you very much. So where is your magic life taking you next? You’re back to St Petersburg on the weekend – what else are you cooking up for the legion of fans you must have out there? Adoring you and waiting for your to come into their hearts, again and again…
MD: “Now we will go to Russia, to have some shows in St Petersburg and Moscow, and then back to Berlin for a show at Kater Holzig on April 20th, and we come again in May, to have a big performance at our colleague, dj Noema’s party “The Magic Movement” It’s going to be in the club called “Chalet.”
JR: “I could really see you guys kicking it big festivals – because, you have like a very big presence, and a lot of glitter… you could, like rock out with the 5,000 people stage, I think”
C: “I would love to”
MD: “That’s what we’re going to do in Austria in July, because its the big body painting festival, with artists from all over the world, collecting a crowd of thousands of people – and our stage is going to be in the medieval castle. Party “Surreal Ballroom”, 03.07 at the World Bodypainting Festival, Pörtschach, Austria.
C: “and we are going even to live in this castle, and this is I guess the Sado Castle – because I don’t remember if we said this at the beginning? We live in the Sado Palace, sure and that is why it is very important for us.”
MD: “That’s on the rider. So yes if you have time in July, every body is welcome to join us at the world body painting festival in Austria – at the Sado Castle – and after that we plan to go to another festival in Dresden – schaubudensommer – which is the festival for theatres, also international.”
And what would be your dream place to perform – if you could do anything, anywhere, where would you like to see yourselves?
C: “Well, actually the castle – I have to say that we really love “Salon-zur wilden Renate” in Berlin, because it is like a SADO Palace for us, and we are really in love with the place and the family of the club, so it is one of our dream places where the dream came true… The SADO Castle is also exciting me – but we are having a plan to become a stadium band, and to make this punk cabaret on a very big stage. We already had an experience on a stage with the, like more than a thousand people. This was in St Petersburg, the same stage where Morrisey performed, even Franz Ferdinand performed there, so this was a big stage and we really felt that we fit to the stage. Maybe we want to do even a mix of classic cabaret with our electronic music, in the way Prodigy did their shows at big festivals.”
You’re mainly writing your own material? Because you made one song that I recognised: “danger danger, high voltage” and then the rest were original?
C: “Yes, we sometimes do some covers, some songs which we like but we do it in our SADO OPERA way, for instance there is also “Be Obscene, which is our version of Marilyn Manson’s “mOBSCENE,” but certainly we have our own songs which are usually stories about us, or about our famous relatives… and also some songs which can help people, like medication.”
MD: “Yes, soon we’re gonna upload the song which you heard live on the show, it is called ‘Doctor Squirt’”
C: “Which is a very important song for Russian women, first of all – because Russian women, because of this terrible female discrimination in Russia, they have problems with feeling pleasure, and with feeling themselves free in sexual relationship, that is why we are trying to help at least with this song. But also it looks like, maybe German women also need it sometimes… So it’s international cure.”
JR: “I think everyone needs a little help sometimes, because no matter how free and open minded you are, there is still social pressures or cultural prejudices that kind of sneak in, there’s, you know – there’s all kinds of things that can make you feel bad about your sexuality… and to embrace that, to like, jump up and down and scream “Be Obscene!” I think is wonderful! You’re doing a very valuable service – Thank You!”
C: “Thank you so much, it’s so pleasant to hear, I feel vibrations of pleasure in my body – what do you feel Magic Doll?
MD: I do.”
I ask for their SADO OPERA mantra, a few parting words from the Colonel & Magic Doll:
MD: “We are SADO OPERA. We live in the SADO Palace. We drive the SADO Mobile. We do magic shows. We heal broken hearts. We bring happiness and joy. We must be together.”
C: “I should say, first – We love you, and then we must be together.”
MD: “We love you more than your own mother..”
C: “Definitely we love you more – because, your mother loves you, just naturally, it’s not a love which your mother is spending a lot of energy to feel. She is spending a lot of energy to raise you and educate you, but it is a natural love.
JR: “And your love is an unnatural love, right?” C: “Yes! Our love is artificial as art is – it’s artificial, it’s love for arts sake – for love’s sake – and its art for arts sake, sure.”
To the wonderful, the hardcore and fabulous SADO OPERA! I do hope, dear readers, you’ll have the chance to enjoy their magic, and their mystery in the very near future. If you ever wished to visit 20’s Berlin, this decadent troupe will take you there in a SADO OPERAtic time capsule. They really can tell your fortune and heal your broken heart, but to find out how that is done you will have to experience the pleasure and pain of SADO OPERA for yourself.