Performing Democracy - Freiburg Festival 2022

Eight Days of Dance, Theatre, Performance and Music

Dear audience,

somewhat presumptuously, we, the Board of Trustees of the Freiburg Festival, wanted to devote ourselves in the (cancelled) 2020 edition to no less a topic than the crisis of democracy - in the form of dance, theater, performance, film and interventions in public space. We asked ourselves: can democracy take on the challenges of the 21st century? With climate change, digitalisation and various migration movements?

However, another, completely unexpected crisis caught up with us even before the festival began: The ice age of the Corona pandemic initially forced us all to pause and keep our distance, made social proximity impossible and thus also our festival. At the same time, an artistic examination of the themes of democratic negotiation processes, participation and solidarity seemed more relevant than ever. Because in this state of emergency, democracy increasingly moved - yes, also in the form of hostility - into the focus of social discourse. But that's not all: now democracy must also be defended against an autocratic aggressor who is fighting the liberal idea of freedom and equality in a war in the middle of Europe. And this threat also affects - to use the words of the Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth - the "lifeblood of democracy": namely art, culture and, above all, the freedom of the media.

Art, and to a certain extent artists themselves, are known to be seismographs of the zeitgeist, able to perceive and map cultural, social and political vibrations in society. Or even point beyond them and are able to show new perspectives. They question circumstances, irritate existing orders, reveal blind spots in political action, or confront viewers with their role in society. In times of the pandemic, however, artists were largely deprived of their voice, because they could not enter into dialogue with their audience.

The unheard, non-experienced, off-beat artistic program from 2020 will finally take place on  our stages in May 2022. Thanks to the continuous support of the city of Freiburg, at least some of the artistic contributions could be invited again. Accordingly, we were faced with the challenge: Which artists, which pieces, which forms, which perspectives re-contextualize themselves against the background of the last two eventful years? Should we look further afield, or should we look back at our own front door first?

Multi-voice and striving for consensus, and thus democratic processes par excellence, determined the selection processes of our five-member board of trustees - incidentally, as usual, an extraordinary and profitable collaboration between E-WERK, Theater im Marienbad and Theater Freiburg. Our artistic program is just as polyphonic as the board of trustees: the leitmotif running through the entire festival is the voice as a political instrument, as an organ of resistance, as a medium of remembrance, or in unison as a choir.rspektiven kontextualisieren sich vor dem Hintergrund der letzten zwei ereignisreichen Jahre neu? Sollen wir den Blick in die Ferne richten oder doch lieber zuerst vor der eigenen Haustür kehren?

Das Festivalprogramm

In Oratorium, the performance collective She She Pop composes a collective monologue together with the audience out of the polyphony, the disagreement and the unison that can only ever be achieved for moments. While in Reverse Colonialism! the performers of the Star Boy Collective let their audience design the norms and rules of a new state to finally solve the troublesome migration-integration debacle. In Pleasant Island, the performing duo Huysmans and Dereere give voice to all those who are otherwise not heard: both the refugees deported to Nauru by the Australian government and the islanders whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the exploitation of the island's phosphate deposits. In Nicoleta Esinencu's musical performance Sinfonie des Fortschritts (Symphony of Progress), Moldovan performers bear witness to how new forms of exploitation and colonization are constantly being created by the capitalist system, and in Mount Average, artist Julian Hetzel seeks a constructive approach to the silent witnesses and symbols of outdated power relations: monuments, statues and memorials. In UNTITLED [2020] Henrike Iglesias and the junge theater basel put an exclamation mark on the question of whether it is worth standing up and raising one's voice, while Isabelle Schad's choreography Reflectionfocuses on the forces that move us: voiceless, but instead harmonizing the polyphony of bodies, it creates a metaphor of social coexistence in which individuals struggle for existence and coexistence.

In addition to the national and international guest performances, we are expanding the festival program with contributions from our three theaters: You will hear Voices from Freiburg and for Freiburg with a current political and social focus. In Die wärmsten Jahre, actor Benedikt Thönes goes in search of a life in a world endangered by climate change and collects voices, questions and ideas from the "Green City Freiburg" for this purpose. In Voice is Vision, part of the exhibition Radical Encounters, Jasmine Tutum leads us with song, video and poetry into a radical, transformative and playful space for transcultural identities. In Die Traumfabrik(The Dream Factory), an entire city has its say: the performance collective geheimagentur asks Freiburg citizens about their dreams and desires - for themselves, for their city, and for life in an urban (and global) community. The program will also be complemented by cinematic contributions curated by Kommunales Kino and a keynote lecture that focuses on the festival motto Performing Democracy from a political science perspective.
Finally, we would like to invite you to a special evening: In light of the war in Ukraine, we are currently curating an event together with partners in Freiburg and cultural networkers, where we want to make Ukrainian voices heard. We will listen to artists, musicians, historians, journalists and many more. Let's stand with Ukraine!

We cordially invite you to join us in hearing these voices, casting your votes and raising your voices! Let's perform democracy!

You can find the screenversion of the festivalflyer here:Download!

The Curators

Tamina Theiß and Anna Gojer, Theater Freiburg
Laila Koller, E-WERK Freiburg
Sonja Karadza and Anna Fritsch, Theater im Marienbad