9 – 19 June 2022 in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Düsseldorf, Cologne + Essen

Academy #2 – Ar/ctivism

Art and Activism in the Independent Theatre
Language: German and English
Programme Leads: Natalie Ananda Assmann, Gin Müller
Production Manager: Anna Bründl

Lectures: Entry is free of charge, no registration necessary
Workshops: Register here.

There is a long history of tension in the relationship between art and political activism, with one side frequently suspicious of the other. The independent performing arts show a repeated interest in activist causes and forms of action and organization. Groups and institutions attempt to work in ways that are both collective and connected to global networks, and take inspiration from decolonial, queer-feminist and intersectional ideas and practices. Those operating where art and activism coincide use theatres and public spaces as stages for political protests and targeted artistic interventions to create visibility for their causes and practice solidary self-empowerment: AR/CTIVISM.

The ACADEMY offers its participants an invitation to examine the relationship between the independent performing arts and activism more closely over four days: what can art and activism learn from each other to be effective in the struggle to achieve specific goals and in grappling with utopian forms of solidary co-existence? But also: how activist can politically-engaged art be? How activist does it want to be? How much art can activism take?

In daily lectures, theoreticians will provide controversial input on art and activism. They will deal with radial queer politics, climate and body networks, digital activism and anti-racist ideas. Furthermore, four four-day workshops will be held by theatre makers, artists and activists. Participants in the workshops will each explore artistic and activist strategies in relation to a specific topic. The lectures are open to the public. For the four-day workshops, it is necessary to register in advance.

© Christina Adam
© olufemi/blackearth
© Arne Vogelgesang/internil

16.–19.06. Workshops

Workshop 1: Queer-Feminist and Roma Ar/ctivism

Led by: Sandra Selimović, Zoe Gudović, Carmen Gheorghe
Language: German and English

“Honour” is a powerful concept that the patriarchy employs to restrict the rights of women and queers. As a consequence, more and more Roma women’s activists and queer-feminists and artists in various countries, above all in Eastern Europe, are working on questioning the politics of “honour”. They are creating new narratives around the body, gender identity and sexual orientation and are trying to use political means to change how these are represented in a range of areas of society. The workshop will analyse how this struggle can put the combination of art, theatre and activism to strategic use.

Register here.

Workshop 2: The Struggle Online

Led by: Arne Vogelgesang
Language: German

This workshop gives an overview of the means and methods with which political battles are being conducted on social media and beyond: by both anti-humanitarian and progressive movements. It will pay particular attention to the question of where activist online practice between identification and anonymity touches on areas of theatre and the performative.

Register here.

Workshop 3: Black Perspectives on Climate Justice – Performance as a Tool

Led by: Black Earth Collective
Language: German and English

This workshop addresses intersections between colonialism and the climate crisis and uses performance as a tool to embody breaking open the binary oppositions between human and nature, men and women, Black and white. It is concerned with recognising centuries-old anti-colonial struggles, listening to movements and communities that have been silenced, who now stand at the forefront of the climate crisis, and paying attention to prognoses for the coming decades that are currently being ignored.

The Black Earth Collective particularly welcomes BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) and queers to attend this workshop.

Register here.

Workshop 4: Ar/ctivist Strategies Against Racism and Right-Wing Extremism

Led by: Can Gülcü
Language: German

This workshop focuses on the question of how artistic-activist strategies can be used to attack racist normativity and right-wing extremism. How can we change the rules about who can speak and who can be listened to and taken seriously? How can buried and repressed knowledge be disclosed? Art as art and as kanakish, anti-racist, proletarian, anti-capitalist activism. During the workshop these emancipatory struggles will be discussed and considered together, for example with reference to issues around the NSU.

Register here.


10:00–10:30 Opening and introduction

With: Natalie Ananda Assmann and Gin Müller (Programme Leads ACADEMY #2)

10:30–12:00 Care without identity: on radical activism in the present democracy

Lecture by Isabell Lorey (Professor of Queer Studies at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne) followed by discussion
in person + online
Language: German

This lecture argues for a radical, new, democratic queer-feminist activism in the political present. It does not foreground identities and representations, but rather caring relationships and a common bond in shared vulnerability. Here it formulates a radical alternative to neoliberal democracy and the authoritarian populisms that result from it.

12:00–17:00 Workshops 1–4 (by registration)

Register here.

17:00 Shuttle bus

Shuttle bus to the Impulse SHOWCASE in Mülheim an der Ruhr


10:00–15:00 Workshops 1–4 (by registration)

Register here.

15:00–16:30 Three Lines of Flight: From Tactical Media to Speculative Encounters

Lecture by Ricardo Dominguez (Professor for Visual Arts at the University of California San Diego)
followed by discussion
Live stream + online
Language: English

Ricardo Dominguez will focus on three lines of flights he has co-created: The history of Electronic Civil Disobedience, flight facilitation gestures for immigrants and refugees, and speculative dronology.

19:00 Herkesin Meydanı — Platz für Alle: Exchange of views about the NSU memorial

Meeting point: Keupstraße 40, 51063 Köln


10:00–10:30 Warm up

10:30–12:00 From the heart into the brain: on anti-racist perspectives in the independent theatre

Lecture by Natasha A. Kelly (Afro-futurist, sociologist and communication scientist) followed by discussion
in person + online
Language: German

12:00–17:00 Workshops 1–4 (by registration)

Register here.

17:00 Shuttle bus

Shuttle bus to the Impulse SHOWCASE in Mülheim an der Ruhr


10:30–12:00 Mortals of all nations, unite! On dealing with threat

Lecture by Karin Harrasser (Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Art and Design Linz) followed by discussion
Language: German

The pandemic and the massive changes in global environmental conditions have worldwide have produced fragile political bodies. Subjects perceive themselves as under threat. The reactions to this shared experience that takes on very different forms depending on geography, social standing, gender and age are uneven: politics of (common) care meet attempts at self-isolation. A solidary approach to vulnerability meets with attempts to negate this vulnerability and to outsource the responsibility that arises from it.

12:00 Shuttle bus

Shuttle bus to the Impulse SHOWCASE in Mülheim an der Ruhr

14:00–16:00 Conclusion to the ACADEMY at the Impulse CITY PROJECT GUGGENHEIM IN OBERBILK?

Location: Kölner Straße 313, 40227 Düsseldorf

16:00–20:00 Farewell party: Air out at the Guggenheim?