Refugees in Reality
It had happened in the middle of the evening or maybe already towards the end of the event, the people who had come with their children in the afternoon and had swam in the pool after the rain had subsided had left and the people who had had other places to go to on this last day of the art crazy in Berlin had also left to attend another boring dinner and talk about another boring artist, and we had had a fire burning in the court-yard, sort of, the place where everybody gathered who was not listening to one of the readings or eating some of Gordon’s fish tacos or looking at this strange and beautiful area, a mix of the Palm Springs of the 1960s and the East Berlin of the late 1980s.
It belongs to Jonas Burgert, a painter with the force and gesture of a Renaissance man transposed into a post-apocalyptic playground of hedonism and war. He had liked the idea to host this first ever 60showcase, a sort of salon without salon, a bit like the internet turned off, this was the idea, the feeling of surfing between texts, stories, memories, thoughts, drifting, floating, getting lost and finding common ground again, there would be music and food and films, Christopher Roth and Alexa Karolinksi and the still magical soccer game between Germany and Brazil that ended after 30 minutes because Germany was already five goals ahead; the rest was not defeat, it was the mutual attempt to avoid total humiliation, in a way one of the greatest achievements in international soccer because they pulled it off, and pleasant to watch, again and again.
It was cold that day, September 20th 2015, it had rained the whole day, it had felt at times like Manila was a suburb of Berlin, a Manila where somebody had taken away the sun and replaced it with a four Watt lightbulb and the whole tropical chaos was turned into a constant wondering if this was how it was going to be like for the foreseeable future, the weather in amok modus and people pretending that nothing really was going on that would necessitate commenting upon. Was it? Or wasn’t it? Would we all be prepared for it? Or was it just a lack of imagination?
And when it happened, late in the evening, as I have said, or maybe almost towards the end, it was like a kiss from reality, it was the epic energy which was stored away in single letters that formed a text, it was a moment of truth which was as unexpected as any moment of truth these days. Sam was standing there, in his camel hair coat he looked like a metaphysical warrior without a battle to wage and without an army to follow, a lonely, handsome man stuck in his own dream, in his own reality, who is to say, there is a difference, he knows that, we all know that, the people watching that evening knew it, and still, it was confusing to tell one from the other. Why seperate? Why decide? And who is to tell?
What had really happened was hard to say. It had been Christopher’s idea and he and Helene Hegemann and Jasna Fritzi Bauer and Anne Philippi and Armen Avanessian and Andrea Hanna Hünniger and Mavie Hörbiger also known as the 60pages All Stars had read a text that Sam had written, a part of his take on sharing, his philosophy of the politics of pleasure, and as …
Later, when Igor Levit was playing the last movements of Beethoven’s last Sonata and everybody was gathered around the grand piano which had been placed in the middle of a large room with parts of the ceiling hanging down in a very fashionable way,
Death in the Theater
German theater, like a lot of things in Germany, is supposed to be the best in the world, this is at least what Germans like to think. I am not so sure. I was a theater critic for a while, and just the other day, in the drunken hours after the 60showcase, Mavie Hörbiger again tried to convince me that I was any good. Whatever. These times are over, the theater lost me, or I lost the theater, we grew disenchanted, this much I can say.
But back in the day when the theater was still young for me, my friend Maxim Biller had the idea of writing a play. He had never been particularily interested in this art form, as far as I know. He might have been inspired by Thomas Ostermeier who had just been named director of the once famous Berliner Schaubühne at a very young age. There was a certain cultural pull in this direction for a while. This has turned out to be an illusion in a couple of ways.
But Maxim wrote this play, “Kühltransport”, he dedicated it to Thomas Ostermeier, in 2002 there was a really good reading at the restaurant of the Schaubühne with its Bauhaus influenced large glass windows – and then the play somehow disappeared. It was performed once or twice in smaller theaters, but it has never had the influence or relevance it could have had.
It is true, this play and the others he wrote after that are different from almost all other plays that are written in produced in Germany, they try to find a way to talk about the world we live in in a language people might actually use. They are political, they are straight forward, they apply art as a means of understanding, not of showing off. And, so it happens, they are rarely performed, if at all.
Which is strange. Really strange, considering how few good plays are out there. But what is the meaning of this? The theaters and the theater directors seem a bit shy to tackle his plays that deal with jewish life in Germany – and, in the case of “Kühltransport”, his first play, the tragedy of the 58 Chinese who in 2000 died in a container, suffocated to death. Biller reconstructs the last hours of these people, he goes back to China and moves across to London and Rotterdam to understand how this could happen and what the reasons, motivs, consequences are.
15 years later it is not any longer Chinese who are coming, who are dying, it is Syrians. The play is still not performed. This is why 60pages published it, in German. This is why we had a reading of parts of it, at the 60showcase on September 20 in Berlin Weißensee. Thank you Pedro Martins Beja, Sergej Lubic, Tom Radisch, Aram Tafreshian, Max Urlacher!
What’s a revolution and how does it sound?
What is a song and what can it do?
You will find out, with our dear friend Igor Levit playing compositions of his dear friend Frederic Rzewski – for you and all our dear friends. Plus, maybe, some Beethoven.