The third edition included:
Ziza Akad - Risus
F. Roadkill - Stealthing Shit
Lara Buffard & Gur Arie Piepskovitz - Snickers (An American Tragic-Legend About One Dark Horse and His Australian Venture in an Era of Globalisation)
By and with: Zander Porter, Ewa Dziarnowska, Maciej Sado, KILBOURNE & rick h m [umami goddess™] (sound), Franziska Acksel (costume), Andrey Bogush, Elliott Cennetoglu
Photos © Dorothea Tuch
Video © Diethild Meier
Photos © Dorothea Tuch
Video © Diethild Meier
Photos © Dorothea Tuch
Video © Diethild Meier
gur piepskovitz / lara buffard
Photos © Dorothea Tuch
Video © Diethild Meier
lea langenfelder + max wallenhorst
I actually don’t really like Snickers - I never did. If someone were to offer me one of these chocolate bars I would politely reject it. I would never choose to snack on a Snickers bar. The caramel-like cream is too dry and definitely too much for me in combination with the peanuts. If you were to give me a Snickers I would leave it with a friend of mine or store it on a shelf between other unloved sweets left to their fate. As you realize, Snickers was never a part of my life and until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t have imagined it would ever concern my work. But here we are, it did! Snickers in fact surprised me as the topic for the third edition of Dirty Debüt. In contrast to the previous editions I did not have any expectations or ideas about the potential performances I would see. The subject was not, like the others before, associated to performance history and traditions thus the open call didn’t seem to provoke performances in any specific aesthetics. In other words: Snickers as a topic didn’t appear to be a quote itself. The more surprised I was by F. Roadkill’s work STEALTHING SHIT – probably the first performance in the context of Dirty Debüt claiming quotation as its artistic method.
F. Roadkill made Sophiensaele’s Kantine his manège. Without any chairs, the audience was sitting on the empty platforms, standing on the brink of the stage, chatting and having drinks. The beginning of the performance itself took place in front of the Kantine, where the artist prepared the following 20 minutes with some visitors: two of them had to carry a wooden board with a saw on it, some others brought in another board with four glasses of wine placed upside down on the wooden surface. On a third board, a further visitor of the event was carried into the space. Upon arrival on stage, Roadkill conducted his helpers like an insane inventor or ringmaster and created several ready-made-like installations with their help: for example, they hung the wine board and attached a jacket to it. Being relatively calm and harmless in the beginning, the performance became faster and faster but especially more physical for the performer. Roadkill filled his mouth with coal and placed himself upside down on a ladder held by some visitors. Afterwards, he built up two ladders, connected by two of the wooden boards and placed himself on the upper one, all to saw apart the plank under his feet and fall down. It reminded of a clown’s performance at the circus, exacerbated by the fact that the largest part of the audience seemed to be amused and very well entertained while standing or sitting in groups and watching the artist fall. Interest, joy and suspense even raised when some visitors and the artist tried to turn around the “wine on wood”-ready-made without soiling the jacket, triumphed and started drinking wine. In the end, Roadkill curated his audience on stage: one person had to stand on a ladder presenting the saw, another visitor was placed on the opposite ladder with a boombox playing Arcade Fire’s “My body is a cage” and a third one was used as a hatrack, having the wooden board with the jacket leaned against his back. The piece of art that emerged was reminiscent of Erwin Wurms “One Minute Sculptures.” Roadkill left the room until the audience had listened to the whole song. Only then were his actors released.
The whole performance appeared to me to be a retro artwork pointing to the fluxus and happening art of the 60s. After all, reenacting past works of other artists in museums and theaters was very popular in recent years. Consequently, I searched for the original performances quoted in Roadkill’s work. I scoured my memory but I did not find any. It awoke my interest – in particular as the title STEALTHING SHIT refers to an act of appropriation. A look at the program finally helped me along: F. Roadkill does quote, but not well known artist as I had expected. He quotes performances of other young emerging artists using parts of their work to create his own happening and to curate some kind of performative exhibition. But what is quotation without any point of reference for the spectator besides the other artists names? It shifts, as the performance’s title says, to an act of stealing – especially if the art works’ original titles are not given for research. An act of involuntary appropriation. But let’s be honest: The original is not important anymore, or better said: Nothing is original. For to create good (art) work it nowadays, it seems to be necessary and common to select, to steal things, to steal from that which speaks directly to your soul. That’s exactly what F. Roadkill performed with a wink: his audience witnessed him acquiring art works he loves himself for to create an authentic piece of performance art himself. And in the end, it did not matter where he stole from, but what he made of it.
Without a doubt, you remember the forgotten Snickers on my shelf. What if it would finally be found by a real Snickers-lover and live up to its name? Snickers is, like the visitors of the evening’s second performance RISUS experienced, more than the name of a mediocre chocolate bar: It’s a synonym for giggling (and a horse’s neighing, if you want to read more about the horse stuff, just check Max’s report on the evening). Ziza Akad’s work, produced by the two dancers Hanna Abergé and Marisa Akeny in collaboration with new media artist Sebastian M. Purfürst, dealt with the cultural meaning of giggling and related forms of expression such as laughter and smiling. The stage was held in clean aesthetics: the two dancers were standing opposite each other separated by a simple high table, surrounded by five vertical light tubes. The music consisted of flicking, popping and clicking sounds, that made the room pulsate. The dancers, using elements of popping, illusionary dance and tutting movement, started their choreography facing each other without a wince, pulling and pushing each other’s bodies. Their dance moves with great precision. Step by step, Abergé and Akeny came closer to each other, becoming one body, a constantly moving sculpture consisting of two woman’s bodies. Their collective performance was ended by two consecutively solos. During this part, the dancers’ bodies seemed to be externally controlled and machine-like. This impression was amplified by simple interventions of the waiting and observing dancer. A gesture pointing to street dance culture. The following part of the performance was concerned with the act of smiling. A voiceover commanded audience and dancers to smile and gave some hard facts about how rarely we smile and laugh in daily live and that we are not able to laugh or smile and think at the same time. The explanation was illustrated by the dancers on stage in exaggeration, followed by a further choreographic part dissembling the act of smiling: Abergé and Akeny faced their audience making grotesque faces, smiling and laughing like maniacs in their visitors’ faces.
It definitely makes sense to broach the issue of giggling as a woman. After all it is an activity mainly ascribed to little children, girls and woman. And while snickering children are perceived as likeable and cute, the giggling girl or woman is often viewed as an annoying person or even as a synonym or expression of foolishness and naiveté. Giggling, a threat of manhood in numberless youth novels, the trademark of bad monstrous girls, like the two performers satirize by making smiling faces, that could also express pain, if you watch them a little longer. Through this RISUS tries to unmask power structures and to enable emancipation. But Ziza Akad does not only reflect about the meaning of snickering. Since the performance presented in the context of Dirty Debüt is only an excerpt of an ongoing long-time project about laughter, smiling, mockery and derision, the focus on giggling is only a short part of the evening. Much more present is the analysis of the act of smiling, also in connection to concepts of femininity. Again, the artistic method of illustration is used to criticize the image of the always smiling gentle girl by constantly transforming it into a rebellious monstrous two headed woman, showing tongue and tooth. An image that in my opinion also needs to be dissolved, as it is actually as socially constructed as the other side of the same coin: the image of the lovely, smiling woman and the one of the woman as a monster are inextricably connected. For overcoming them, it would be important to search for new ways of representation.
The excerpt of RISUS presented at Dirty Debüt also connected urban dance styles with the question of emancipation in general: through their performance the artists point to the stereotype of the dancing and smiling sexy woman in street dance and popular culture whose counterpart is a strong man embodying the well-known gangster image.
#Snickers has been a challenge. But the irritation provoked by the chosen issue relieved the chosen art works and artists of expectations with regards to contents and aesthetics. Through that, Dirty Debüt’s third edition turned out to be dirtier than the prior issues: the four pieces of art presented were united through their unfinished characters and their playful handling of contents. With his work STEALTHING SHIT, F. Roadkill dared a real experiment on stage all the more if it’s true that he actually didn’t rehearse before the presentation. Ziza Akad however started reflecting about snickering and ended up opening a whole semantic field, without fearing the size of the topic, but providing a basis for their further work on RISUS. #Snickers was like a fast sugar rush peppered with interesting ideas and concepts within very short time, safely slowed down during a feedback session with whiskey, cola, and pizza. Damn, I missed it! Instead, I went home with my Snickers White and snacked on it.
I like Snickers. While I don't like liking Snickers, I do like Snickers. I have to admit that for me it's one of the few chocolate bars that live up to their promise of rich taste in compressed form. Though when I first heard that Snickers would be the theme of the third edition of Dirty Debüt, I had to think of Two Girls, Fat and Thin, not the novel by Mary Gaitskill, but the essay by literary and feminist theorist Lauren Berlant, which is working through the novel of the same name by Mary Gaitskill. Since this is one of my favorite texts in the world, my friends roll their eyes at how many things remind me of it, and in fact a Snickers bar never shows up over the course of neither the novel nor the essay. But candy necklaces, ice cream sandwiches, Choco Chunk bars and french fries. The text is about … snacks. It's also about sex.
Overly simplified, for Lauren Berlant snacks can provide moments of relief, or even just breaks, from taking life personal. In much critical theory, anything to do with sugar is either framed as hyper-capitalist symptom or as nostalgic fantasy. For Berlant though, a supposedly “bad” ingredient like sugar or fat, is not just the caricature of a biopolitical instrument. In her non-normative analysis she observes how snacks can accompany rhythms of the ordinary as much as it can interrupt them. A relationship, to someone else or to one's self, sometimes that's just a series of snacks, a rhythm of interruption and ongoingness. That is not much more to say as that a Snickers bar with its overwhelming texture, like sex, can hold many meanings for people, including no meaning at all.
And so on the very night that Ariana Grande finally blessed the world with the instant classic sugar bomb that is her thank u next video, on this very night Snickers, the third edition of Dirty Debüt, held many meanings for people. I will here write about two of the performances that were shown – ADHD Penetration by Zander Porter with Ewa Dziarnowska and Maciej Sado and Snickers (An American Tragic-Legend About One Dark Horse and His Australian Venture in an Era of Globalisation) by Lara Buffard and Gur Arie Piepskovitz. Beloved Lea Langenfelder will write about the other two works in her text.
ADHD Penetration starts off with two performers, entering the stage with slow and worn-out dance moves. It might be their Monday or Wednesday at a post-apocalyptic sports rave. They drink from plastic cups filled with liquids that loosely resemble soda and – well, reader, what can I say – the work turns out to be juicy all the way through. The four performers evoke various tonalities of a feeling that perhaps is best described as cuteness. This includes the sad frequencies of cuteness, as the performers work through some fragments of pop choreography, its movement material always approached as if from a distance, as if from too close up. As the sound is driven by deconstructed remixes of Sia power ballads, bursting out into hardstyle from one second to the next, each one of the performers is channeling their very own inner Maddie Ziegler (as one audience member put it). The performance also includes the hot frequencies of cuteness, as they dramatically insert a dildo in strobe light, later leading to what might or might not be a birth of a third performer. And it includes the funny frequencies, as group choreographies fail or as one of the performers hands a single Snickers bar to a single audience member – the only explicit allusion to the theme of the night. In this zoning-out zone, sex and snacks, sadness and snickering are related, like a group of friends going out.
ADHD Penetration is, as one would say on Twitter, a Big Mood. As post-whatever as it might be, it is to me first and foremost moving in all its irony and post-irony. As signaled by the title and by a whole set of stylistic choices, these affective layers though are so impressive not least because they are always connected within their cultural framework. As in the outside world, for example, it's not at all subtle how there's always a video camera involved in the actions on stage. What will happen with this footage, what other audience is this for? And the pills the performers are swallowing evoke both Skittles or Adderall and their respective industries – either way, a significant high. Rather than being about the psychiatric-industrial complex, though, ADHD Penetration is playing with its feelings. And is also played by it. Is this a shift, is it a critique, reflection, reproduction? At the risk of being too cool for school, ADHD Penetration mobilizes an ambivalence in not knowing yet.
The fourth and last performance of the night – Snickers (An American Tragic-Legend About One Dark Horse And His Australian Venture in an Era of Globalisation) – approached the saccharine with a very different tone and – with different snacks. Instead of nutty chocolate bars performers and makers of the piece Lara Buffard and Gur Arie Piepskovitz used, among other things, a bag of Maltesers for their piece. Nevertheless Snickers is present, or rather, as we will find out: coming back from the dead.
Buffard and Piepskovitz, in a simple two chairs / one video set-up, enact a playfully absurd dialogue that is interrupted as well as driven by eating and drinking and yes, a sex scene as well. It’s a tour de force, tying different anecdotes from the history of Snickers, the chocolate bar, to Snickers, the horse, to which Snickers, the chocolate bar, is in fact a tribute. Snickers, the horse, was an actual sweepstakes winner in the stables of Frank and Ethel Mars, founders of the Mars company, and died shortly before the release of the chocolate bar in 1930. It is thus summoned by Piepskovitz in the body of Buffard. Was Snickers, he goes on to ask the ghostly apparition, the one responsible for the poison threat in Australia in 2005 involving the chocolate bar? By which Piepskovitz is alluding to an actual event in actual Australia, in which products were recalled and no one got hurt. Though for him the question remains: Was Snickers, the horse, planning on revenge for being exploited in so many abstract and also painfully concrete ways? This virtuosic knitting of a plot also includes feasting on white men's balls and the 2005 evergreen hit Lonely by Akon. It gets weirder and weirder from there, until – not unlike in ADHD Penetration – a man gets impregnated: this time around by a horse. An insanely cute centaur is born.
Within a surprisingly theatrical form that is precise and a lot of fun, Buffard and Piepskovitz present an allegory that is messy in the best sense: It's a pleasurable conspiracy theory of a performance, held together by change of topics like Youtube style jump cuts. But without the sweaty bro paranoia that usually accompanies this, the narrative raises different questions: How do the fantasies of product development exploit the names of creatures it, one way or the other, owns? What would a counter-fantasy of revenge actually look like? Just because these questions here look as childish as to the point of looking parodistic, the work makes clear, that doesn't make them less urgent.
Although so different in style, I wonder if the snacks synced both works with a similar style of rhythm. Dramaturgically, although both had an continuous flow, they were also made of bits, often of tidbits. A love for sweet moments, that was, though not at all harmless, very very very cute. Sianne Ngai, for whom cuteness is one of the aesthetic categories of the times we call our times, writes of it that it's “not just an aestheticization but an eroticization of powerlessness, evoking tenderness for 'small things' but also, sometimes, a desire to belittle or diminish them further.”
Eroticization of powerlessness in the face of how good it can feel – in the face of how bad it feels, too – is certainly a theme of both these performances. In how far they belong to the “sometimes,” that for Ngai includes belittling, is an open question the works seems fairly conscious of. At the same time the styles of fantasy merely overlap: The fantasy of a heart-wrenching zoning out in some post-apocalypse comes from a very different “tenderness for small things” than the animalistic transgressive revenge fantasy.
It didn't go unnoticed how two performances at the Snickers-themed edition of Dirty Debüt, namely these two, featured rituals resembling male impregnation and birth. I want to leave the cheap psychoanalytic reading of this to the heat of your imagination. Queer negativity, oh lala. However, it's interesting to me that tenderness for small things here comes with such grand gesture. Because while being cute, the realm of the small thing that is a Snickers bar, doesn't necessarily seem like a healthy and hospitable planet. I, as a mom, don't think you could raise children on a diet of Snickers and Adderall. Yet it is here – within this rhythm of short attention spans and food coma – that the not often fruitful bodies of cis-masculinity are transitioning to low-key fertility. Lauren Berlant writes, in another text, that “for most, potentiality within the overwhelming present is less well symbolized by energizing images of sustainable life and less guaranteed by the glorious promise of bodily longevity and social security [...].” Yes, sometimes potentiality is a weird centaur baby doll, or a cute group selfie. Or, as Lauren Berlants puts it, “[it] is expressed in regimes of exhausted practical sovereignty, lateral agency, and, sometimes, counterabsorption in episodic refreshment, for example in sex, or spacing out, or food that is not for thought.”
The format of Dirty Debüt, the raw 20-minute performance, is an interesting place to practice and think about this. Sometimes it would maybe not only be nicer, but also perhaps smarter and more relevant to create contexts in which artistic work feels more like ... a snack. It doesn't have to be Snickers, it could also be something more fancy with like, lavender or fleur de sel.
KONZEPT, KÜNSTLERISCHE LEITUNG Björn Pätz, Sandra Umathum
DRAMATURGIE Joshua Wicke
JURY Alexander Kirchner, Björn Pätz, Sandra Umathum, Joshua Wicke
AUTOR*INNEN Lea Langenfelder, Max Wallenhorst
VIDEODOKUMENTATION Diethild Meier
FOTOGRAFIE Dorothea Tuch
FEEDBACK-MODERATION BEI DIRTY DEBÜT #3 Eike Wittrock
TECHNIK Susana Alonso
PRODUKTION björn & björn
Eine Produktion von björn & björn in Koproduktion mit SOPHIENSÆLE.
Gefördert aus Mitteln des Hauptstadtkulturfonds.
Medienpartner: taz.die tageszeitung
DIRTY DEBÜT #4 SLEEP
FEB 8, 19.00 Uhr
The third edition will include:
Lara Buffard & Gur Arie Piepskovitz - Snickers (An American Legend About One Dark Horse and Their Australian Venture)
Zander Porter with Ewa Dziarnowska & Maciej Sado - ADHD Penetration
F. Roadkill - Stealthing Shit
Marisa Akeny, Hanna Abergé, Sebastian Purfürst - Risus
KONZEPT, KÜNSTLERISCHE LEITUNG Björn Pätz, Sandra Umathum DRAMATURGIE Joshua Wicke
JURY Alexander Kirchner, Björn Pätz, Sandra Umathum, Joshua Wicke AUTOR*INNEN Lea Langenfelder, Max Wallenhorst
VIDEODOKUMENTATION Diethild Meier FOTOGRAFIE Dorothea Tuch FEEDBACK-MODERATION BEI DIRTY DEBÜT #3 Eike Wittrock TECHNIK Susana Alonso PRODUKTION björn & björn
Eine Produktion von björn & björn in Koproduktion mit SOPHIENSÆLE. Gefördert aus Mitteln des Hauptstadtkulturfonds. Medienpartner: taz.die tageszeitung
Four times throughout the year, Dirty Debüt offers four emerging performance artists a platform to show sketches, unfinished projects, or even dirty works in response to a concrete theme or idea. The performances themselves are then are followed up by a discussions and a feedback session over a shared meal. Each new edition will employ different methods of giving and receiving feedback, which will be led and moderated by changing guests with relevant expertise.
The second edition will take place on September 28th, 2018 at 7 PM in the Kantine at Sophiensæle.
The topic for Dirty Debüt #2 is clean.
Would you like to be one of the artists or groups to show work at Dirty Debüt #2? Then send us a short project proposal related to the topic in German or English (max. 2000 characters) and your resume! Participation is open to anyone who hasn’t shown more that one professionally developed work. We also consider proposals for the further development of a thesis project; proposals made by students will, however, unfortunately not be accepted. For that reason, we also ask you to please send a certificate of exmatriculation as proof that you are no longer studying. For the development of a 20-minute performance, you will receive 2000 € (including any potential expenses for travel, transport and accommodation), as well as an extra 150 € for materials and tech.
Out of the applications submitted, the jury – Björn Pätz, Sandra Umathum, Joshua Wicke and Joy Kristin Kalu from Sophiensæle – will select four drafts that they view as distinct and promising in their artistic approach. We will post the reasons for our selection on the Sophiensæle website and www.dirtydebuet.de, where we will also post recordings of the performances and reports by our two authors.
Dirty Debüt doesn’t only focus on the visibility of performance artists that still fly under the radar of most houses and their visitors. It also highlights the wide range of the whole performance scene: the so-called performance theater; performances in the tradition of body art; and exchange between performance and dance or visual art. Dirty Debüt is a gathering place for a variety of approaches, formats and forms of expression and brings them all together onto one stage.
We look forward to your submissions!
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
The application deadline is June 23rd, 2018
The decisions will be announced in July.
We will notify the selected artists without delay.
Björn Pätz, Sandra Umathum
Lea Langenfelder, Max Wallenhorst