Ariane Müller I guess I have mentioned it; we are twenty years old.
Calla Henkel, Max Pitegoff Happy birthday!
AM But the magazine is not about the birthday. Only Karl sent us a poem.
Henrik Olesen And a little bit Ei Arakawa.
AM He was doing our horoscope. There is even a birthdate.
MP What is the birthdate?
AM It is the 4th of September 1998, 8 o’clock in the evening.
HO In Berlin Mitte.
AM I remember it was not even finished printing that evening, but they had given us ten copies.
So when we started Starship twenty years ago, we had been in the city for three years, it was a different city, and conceiving Starship seemed so obvious since no other art magazine existed. So when we thought about it, we would think who would read it, who it was targeted at, people we wanted it to see, but not all of them were in Berlin. There was the Cologne art scene—that still existed. There was Texte zur Kunst there, and we wanted to communicate with them as well. But we also wanted to communicate to them that something had changed. So we had a notion about a form of art, and also of an audience. And a group of people, with whom we wanted to do that. Now twenty years afterwards, or for you ten years afterwards—
HO When did you come?
CH It was 2008. I came to study when I was 20. I ended up in Lothar Baumgarten’s class, and this was like: this is not going to work so well, and then Josephine (Pryde) showed up at UdK, and I saw her in the hallway, and I said: You! And then she took me, and later she took Max.
MP I came later, in 2009.
HO But you knew each other before then.
MP We knew each other from school in New York. Cooper Union.
CH So we all showed up in Berlin: also Stewart Uoo, Mathieu Malouf and Dena Yago—all on exchange in Josephine’s class, all in that first year she was teaching there.
MP And then we moved back to New York to finish school, and came back here immediately after we graduated in 2011.
AM So we could also start with why you decided to go to Berlin?
CH I showed up to Berlin on accident. At the time everything in New York for us was so rigged around the University system. We only knew people in our age group, everyone had a kind of label, from what year they had studied, and what they had studied. Berlin felt much more loose, people were from everywhere and it didn’t feel as suffocatingly age-bracketed.
MP 2008 at the time of the financial crisis, New York felt like it was becoming an unlivable place. I was only there for two years before that but it didn’t feel like a place that I wanted to stay.
HO You did projects also there together?
CH In New York we got put in a class together in the first year, and there are only about 15 people per class. That included friends who we still work with, like Skye Chamberlain and Georgia Gray. We started to work together then.
MP But it was really in Berlin that we started to make work together. In a more serious way.
Martin Ebner I think I saw a video of a perfomance with a group of people flocking, tumbling down the staircase, which I really liked.
MP When we were at Cooper Union we were making a lot of work that was responding to the situation of being students there at the time, where we felt that Cooper’s administration and board were starting to tighten things, making things more strict.
CH Basically we could feel the tremors of what ended up happening two years after we left, resulting in the abolishment of Cooper Union’s full-tuition-scholarships for its students. When the president and board basically sold out the endowment, and completely rebranded the school.
MP The whole time we were there they were in the process of building this new building by this starchitect, Thom Mayne. They poured a ridiculous amount of money into that, which contributed to the fact that they started charging tuition two years later.
CH But you could feel that the ground was being sold from under our feet, and most of our work during that period—and it is funny that we—now when I look back—did it in such a stupid way. While the students who followed us had to do very real protesting. We were this last class, who could respond visually, spiritually and spatially to, or choose to ignore, what was happening to this safe space of the school, that was the only tuition free school in New York, and one of the few in America.
John Hejduk did the renovation of the old building in the 1970s, when he was the head of the architecture school at Cooper, and everything felt thought through on a molecular level. He truly understood the building. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and they bring in this starchitect, Thom Mayne, who had no connections to the school. And he designed this extremely expensive building that had this wild, giant atrium. They wasted probably seventeen classrooms worth of space on a grand staircase, and they didn’t seal the cement on the stairs so people were always falling down them. It was so aggressive, and in order to be designated a ‘green building,’ it had no real windows—all the glass was covered in sheets of perforated metal. It was made by someone who had no interest in what was actually happening in a studio. Painting classes, the view of the city, it was all refracted through dots. You could tell that there was this dirty hand doing something to the institution, but we didn’t know how serious it was.
We originally started building these tile structures there because this was the same tile surface that John Hejduk had used in the Cooper Union during the renovation. All of our tile work begins there. But the kids who came there after us had to really fight for a free Cooper Union. We got involved as much as we could, but there was also this heartbreak knowing that we had felt it but hadn’t figured it out.
MP It turned out that two years after we left they announced that they would start to charge tuition, so a group of art students began protests, like sit-ins in the presidents office.
CH And this overlapped with Occupy Wall Street, and they were using a lot of their ethos and strategy. Some of the students who were there then got involved in activism around student debt, and I think they were able to pitch what the Cooper Union was as a possible alternative for the future, or for other institutions.
It was in some ways very successful, and now the Cooper Union is back on track, after protests caused the resignation of several of the board members, and eventually the hiring of a new president.
MP And the city government mandated that the school had to return to a free tuition model.
AM But you were already in Berlin.
CH We were already here, we had already opened Times Bar.
HO This was the first thing you did, Times Bar.
MP The first thing when we moved back here in 2011.
ME I am actually interested when you say: your strategy was more poetic or more dance related, and that the following generation had the better strategies.
MP I think what Calla means was that our strategy wasn’t meant to enforce change.
CH Yes, and I feel they were forced into a position where they had to create direct action. Our form of protest was way more billowy because it was speculative, whereas they had to state: This is our school! This is what we want! And we aren’t leaving this office until we get it.
MP We both felt the pressure of being subjects in this institution and responding to it, but they had to respond to it in a far more direct way
ME Would you call it a politicization?
Thinking when you are part of a system then you are part of this, but if you see that it is a bigger system there is also solidarity, and there was also Occupy. Not everyone was thinking about his own progress. There was a political turn.
AM It was very astonishing seen from here—from Berlin—the solidarity of the art scene in New York. It was not even thinkable in Berlin.
CH I think building up to it, New York felt like it was fractured in time periods. Some of our professors were living a version of an East Village in their rent controlled lofts that didn’t exist for us. We were living in Bushwick and that was already turning into a gentrified hell. There was already this feeling of the rapid spiraling out of the city, and the need to ‘preserve what was left.’ But so much had already been eroded.
MP And it was exactly that kind of financialization and centralization that we saw happening and were responding to within the institution.
CH And it is interesting because the first year we were at Cooper the Hewitt building which was later replaced by the new Thom Mayne building was still standing. And they let us tear it down from the inside. They just gave the students the whole building. So I began art school thinking that this was normal, people knocking down walls and throwing concerts and starting fires on the roof. It was extreme chaos. They really were like—whatever, you guys can do what you want.
MP This was a totally utopian idea of what art school could be.
The Hewitt Building
CH Deconstructive. You would come in one day, and someone would make a big installation and four hours later someone would have hacked it up, and someone was crying: Fuck you. There was graffiti everywhere. Homeless people staying there. Some students installed a basketball hoop at the back of the building, so the space turned into a basketball court, everything felt re-purposed. It was really like: art-school in New York is fucking nuts.
HO How many people were there?
CH Out of the 250 students or so there were probably 100 or 150 who were going crazy in there.
We didn’t have a studio there, but we were around. We were kids, 18 years old. That was how I thought it was going to be. It also was a mesh between the city itself and the school. And then, when we came back from Berlin, there was this clinical weird monster building nobody had any relationship to, and it had no relationship to anything, especially not to the body.
ME It looks like a 1980s building.
CH It had nothing to do with the present or even a possible future. In the four years we were there, it was a 180 degree turn from total freedom to rules about not drinking in the studio because the the floor was new and porous. We had participated in physically pulling down the old building but we were too busy enjoying the mayhem to really understand what would come next.
MP And so responding with this dance work was our way to penetrate the building.
CH Every other week we were choreographing a dance piece for this new building, and we would send a video to a few people to rehearse, and they would show up and try to do it with us.
HO You engaged other people?
CH Yes, sometimes even engineering students—we were trying to involve as many people as we could.
AM So now we go to Berlin. A destruction site also, another destruction site.
MP Yes, we go to Berlin.
ME You brought this energy.
CH We were also working on these performance pieces with large groups of people when we were in Berlin. It’s a type of work that costs people time, and I really felt in New York that people didn’t have time to spare, and that was something that was really important. Being in a place where people didn’t feel robbed by giving you an hour. Even asking people to learn a quick dance felt like a lot.
ME So when I look at the performative dance piece, somehow a conceptual performance piece maybe reminding of the sixties, then you somehow made a shift to Broadway.
CH But that’s true New York theatre. I think for us it was always language based, and then theatre became a frame for writing. All of our dance pieces had scripts: Now you touch the wall, now you fuck the wall…They always were very language-based, conversations, dialogues. And then theatre became for us more interesting as that vehicle for dialogue and for text.
AM But was theatre something that existed in itself and could be taken up as a misunderstanding? Like Kippenberger said that he was taking up painting, but only because he took it up as a misunderstanding. He didn’t want to develop something for the form, he wanted to take something that existed in itself.
CH Like a cage you can bang around in.
MP Yes, it is a good analogy.
CH The first play we did was in a space we ran in New York, after we came back from Berlin. When we returned and saw this shift in the school we felt like it was important to build some sort of “destructive” space outside of school.
AM Was this space more to show something to people, or to engage with people?
Hamlet the Kegger
CH It was more to have a space so that we and other people could do things ourselves. It was called The Cave, and we ran it with six other students from Cooper Union. It was this messy basement space in Bushwick, and we did our first play, Hamlet the Kegger there, and we organized a series of theatre nights in the space. And that’s where it started. Instead of everyone learning their lines we made prop-sculptures and put their lines on those, so they were these sculptural texts.
AM So my stereotype of New York, I would always say that everything there is always done in front of this big art market audience, and that you are never free of their inherent categorization of success.
CH We had no idea.
MP As students we were actually very shielded from an art market context. Which says a lot about Cooper’s art school to be able to do that in New York at that moment.
ME Nobody went to see shows?
CH We did, but there was always the feeling that the context for the shows themselves didn’t really matter. Like my first critique at school: I brought in a sculpture, and I was asked: Where do you imagine this? And I said: I don’t know, in a gallery in Chelsea, because that’s where I thought art went. And the critique was: Fuck you! You are an idiot. And I said: Oh you’re right. Why would I be such a selfish asshole to envision my work in a gallery. Really, I went into the bathroom and I just cried my eyes out. Because there wasn’t a culture of venturing into the gallery. It was a backdoor, but the actual cultural exchange was not about participating in the market.
AM So, Berlin. Did you have the impression that you were coming into a dense space with lots of different communities? Because when we came it was still very connected. There was something that was called Der Zusammenhang. They tried to find a word for this art scene where people were being aware of each other, so this is what it was called. But back then, people were also heavily relying on communication, because otherwise you didn’t get anything to eat or you couldn’t heat your space. Because of lack of resources. But this was not the space anymore into which you came ten years later.
MP We were responding mainly to the English-speaking community we encountered when we came here.
CH But this was also because we had just come from school, we were still really part of that. There were just tons of people showing up at the same time. The financial crisis wasn’t so far behind us. Some people were dodging debt by coming to Europe.
MP When we were running Times Bar, there was this joke, people would show up with their suitcases.
CH Like, they would show up with suitcases and be like: where shall I go? Which usually worked. And then there was the inverse, when Daniel Reuter came to Times Bar and said: I am moving to New York in a few days. And I asked him if he knew where he was going to live, and he was like “No, I’ll just figure it out when I get there.” And I freaked and was like: You can’t do that there! And I got on my phone and found him a place in New York.
MP We opened Times Bar extremely naively.
We didn’t really understand what we were getting into. Which was good for the way it worked, it was the only way it worked.
This kind of moment in 2010–2012, what felt like people flocking from New York to Berlin, manifested in the space of Times Bar, it was overwhelming. That was also part of the reason why we wanted to close it.
HO How did you get into the theatre?
HC We made this decision at Times Bar to not photograph at night. Partly because of the ethos of Berlin nightlife, but also because as photographers ourselves it felt manipulative and cheesy to memorialize our own bar in that way. So we started writing in a tab-book who was going in and out and what was happening, who was ordering what, and who owed the bar what money. It became this clear economic script, and we started talking about how the space had that sort of Kammerspiel or sitcom feeling. We were describing our friends who were these very performative characters, and realized we wanted to write actual scripts for them.
MP We were interested in building a space where there could be more control over of what is happening, rather than just a bar, and theatre became this interesting hierarchy of how to do that.
CH Theatre was a set of rules to borrow and a funny void to throw all of the dada inside.
AM Also Cabaret Voltaire.
MP Somehow we were not interested in that at all. We were more interested in this very basic set-up of a theatre situation. The Off-Broadway / Kammerspiele, a basic sort of proscenium stage-audience relationship.
CH This goes back to what we talked about earlier, starting Starship as format for circulating conversations with the people around you, and how you were very aware of who your audience was in the beginning. And I think New Theater in some ways was similar, it was another format for circulating conversations within a group of people. Theatre became, for me, the funniest way to think about writing. Giving people a script and everyone arguing about it, and changing it. And then the final version was so far off, that it became this sort of bizarre collective voice.
When you know your audience personally, and they are watching friends onstage, there is this embarrassment and fear and excitement wound up in watching them. It is horrible and exciting. This was the New Theater gasoline.
AM which also means to push people out of this comfort zone of drinking anonymously, consuming
MP There was this extreme expectation of having to sit through something for somewhere between thirty minutes to two hours.
ME It’s a lovely idea of an expat theatre reenacting ideas that come from Berlin, Weimar period, sing-songs. But you can also see it as a bubble. There is a certain sort of privilege I wanted to point out about the identity of being an American citizen going to Europe. There are other realities of migrating than the American way. In Berlin the American point also creates a tension. Germans were always looking up at US American art. In Berlin they were always looking to the west, we were raised to do that. I do relate to tv series from the sixties. But there is also a conflict, and the conflict is extended with every Air BnB poster outside, because who is where and what are they allowed to do.
MP It is definitely a privileged position, especially considering the ease of immigration for Americans into Germany as compared to almost any other non-EU country, but also obviously because English is so widely spoken. Also taking on this form of theatre in Germany, that has such a spoken German language tradition…
AM You must have experienced it when you came to Volksbühne. The epicentre of this discussion: that there is something, language, tradition, that theatre exists.
CH Theatre became interesting because the crisis in identity politics were activated in the piece itself. There is embarrassment and shame but also the flipside of that, especially because we don’t usually work with actors. We were pushing performers just a little bit outside of their comfort zone. You have to go through deep recognization of your own psychology to be able to do that as a performer, to allow yourself to be written into a character of yourself . That’s what we have always been working with—on how far you push yourself as frame before you become too uncomfortable. Being onstage I could only go so far, meanwhile other people could inhabit these kind of characters, and theatre for us became that space to push and pull that. It became this conflict zone.
HO Was it very different for you to produce at the Volksbühne?
MP Trying to make work there was a totally different thing then making work in the New Theater.
CH But theatre is about crisis. That’s why I was very interested in Volksbühne in that time period. Working there actually fit well with our practice. Despite our issues with what was happening higher up, the day to day was about learning how other people and departments work and collaborated. It is a theatre built on people who have been there for decades but are still open to taking risks. The first play was really horrible and difficult partially because we just didn’t yet understand how to work with everyone.
HO Did you feel it was a very different audience?
CH Yes, but not completely. There was a mix.
HO Because they invited you as a certain group of people and as a certain community.
AM Yes it came with its own audience. That’s what they were also looking for..
MP We knew that in we were being used as this kind of entry into a specific audience. But then the reason why we didn’t say no, was because the use was mutual.
CH Yes we were very interested in the context itself.
AM Did you have the alien status still? Because for us, it would have meant so many conflicts. People were really angry.
HO Also out of so much history.
AM Of course we also didn’t have that good offer, it did not involve any money, just getting the pavillion. But even talking about it with people led to so much anger. It would have meant such an unnecessary division, since it was never our confict, but we were asked about loyalities in a conflict we didn’t want to participate. The Volksbühne also before had not been “ours.” It seemed as if it was only introduced as being our problem to make these sort of partitions, for or against.
CH We knew what we were getting into. In no way did we go into it blind. People said, you really shouldn’t do that and we said we know. But not doing it was also not interesting. I don’t think that things are ever only black and white. And now we walk out of it knowing so much more—about the political structure of this city. Where the cultural budget goes. What is even considered culture. And how people are getting used for and against each other to prove it.
We liked the Grüner Salon because it has always had a third party agency in the theatre. Something just outside. So we basically came to them saying we can run our theatre on our own. We work with our own editor, and we work with our own ensemble, and we work only with people based in Berlin, and we do a performance every weekend, and we kind of thought they’d never say yes.
And they were like: Okay.
In the end we were interested in trying to build a theatre that confronted the problems that were happening in the main house, and this thing that they were flying in people from Brussels and Paris and Thailand, who had no relationship to producing in Berlin or in the house itself, no relationship to the costume department or the lighting department, and how these people work together.
So there was energy and time for those departments to work with us, even as a secondary stage, as people working there were frustrated with what was happening on the main stage. And we got to really work with the house. We would have never received that amount of energy and treatment had we come in on the main stage. The Roter and Grüner Salons are usually a bit whatever for the technical staff. But they were willing to treat these performances like real theatre pieces, which was really exciting. But it took a long time. Only by the third and the fourth play did we know how to work with it. We became really close with the people we worked with there, and they started performing with us, like the propmaster, Johannes Buchmann, who was in the last piece.
MP We didn’t have that in New Theater, but in the Grüner Salon we were thinking about the idea of an ensemble. Obviously because of what was happening to the ensemble in the main house.
AM And you were thinking about it in art terms?
MP It didn’t matter. In New Theater we were also trying to not think about it in art terms. It was more like how do you make a play for this kind of audience?
CH And how to not keep doing the same boring shit.
AM There is this risk, and I know that from doing magazines, that people would ask you: What are you now?
CH People are always unhappy with the answer. They say, what are you? An artist or a theatre maker? And I can’t understand this. Also the people working at Volksbühne who fucking hate “art.” Art is the devil there. And I was like: What do you think art is? And these discussions were very interesting, and so much more interesting than, say, doing an exhibition.
At the Volksbühne
We went back to the Volksbühne for the first time two days ago.
MP The Grüner Salon is unused right now.
CH And it’s still like this there now, everyone frustrated, because they want to build plays. Instead they are bringing in all of these pieces from Stuttgart that already exist, and they don’t want to re-enact Stuttgart theatre either.
MP We were working there every day up until the end of last season. And for for that whole season we didn’t look at art, we barely went to see shows.
AM So you said it was so much more interesting than making an exhibition, so you somehow became a traitor to art, and at the other hand I know that art students are actually very interested in your practice, and as art students, as a sort of light in the tunnel of how to move in the art field, where they are very uncomfortable with their choices. And somehow, also in the article that Pablo Larios wrote he mentioned your practice was somehow placed against a virtual community. And somehow as if we had forgotten what a community was because we think we are anyway in a community—which would be the virtual community because we are connected via social media and are anyway in an exchange and he was placing it as this more bodily experience or density, discarding this idea of a virtual community and taking up what is actually a twentieth century technique and it is a little similar with the magazine that also brings in a twentieth century practice. And we couldn’t produce the magazine only in the net, because we want to have it in our hands or create a sort of body.
HO For me it is also very much in we doing it. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it, if it wasn’t that process together. I’d admire it, but attaching myself to it …
CH Yes I also admired it. I remember going to Starship parties when I first got here and I was too scared to even take a magazine. But that is the important thing about it being a physical object at an event. I can still be there, have my alienated experience, feel that I am not part of something, but can understand it, recognize it, and can allow it to grow around me.
AM This is what I mean, now it seems as if everything is shrinking to friendships, and this communitarianism that it is built up around sharing the same values and liking the same things, this was not what we meant.
HO Did the plays change from the New Theater to the Volksbühne.
MP We were more aware of the weight of doing it at the Volksbühne.
CH We really borrowed from what was there at Volksbühne, which changed everything radically. In the past we borrowed from what was around, art stuff, relationship drama, whatever, but here we were going into the vault of theatre proper. All of the music was by Sir Henry, who had previously worked with Castorf as his music director. Or working with Silvia Rieger who was one of the few remaining ensemble members. Or re-using old props and costumes.There was so much built in history, trauma, and chaos that ended up changing how we worked because that was what was around.
MP But we were interested especially in the beginning of our work at Volksbühne about how the shift between German and English could be played up.
HO I think the first thing I saw was a Barbara Sukowa song sung in German, or was it in English?
MP At New Theater: It was Lily
McMenamy singing it in German. But German was always used only in very referential ways there.
AM But at Volksbühne, you targeted discourses like the Schloss, which are so very Berlinish.
CH The Rise and Fall of a City was the frame we set for the four plays we wrote at Volksbühne. If you put the plays together it doesn’t make a perfect arc or anything, but each play dealt with the loneliness and collective struggle of processing ideas of the city; politics, language, culture, power, money, global warming.
We were going to all of the Mitarbeiter meetings taking place at the Volksbühne, where there was a lot of arguing about what theatre within the city is. We were writing plays quite quickly, and a lot of the language we used was directly pulled from those conversations. It’s funny, only later on did I realize that it didn’t make a ton of sense for people not closely engaged with discourse inside the theatre.
MP And it was interesting how the public perception of what the Volksbühne was changed throughout the year. I think when Chris Dercon resigned in April, somehow we had this feeling of being free.
CH We all went nuts. And the people in the Volksbühne who we had been working with the whole year also went nuts. Something exploded. Despite the fact that it had felt that way through much of the year, there really finally was no leader, so everyone went ahead with their own version of what theatre could be inside of that house, and this played out in the last pieces.
What was really interesting for us, was throughout the whole year everyone, the workers included, were constantly talking in real terms about what theatre could be, or was, or couldn’t t be. And much of that is in the plays, arguments about what things can and can’t be… The characters on stage are talking, in the first play, about what the last city on the planet should be and how it should look like—and you have the waiter, the philosopher and the entertainer and all these people arguing about it—and the final play where it is about global warming and the last spectacle—a contracted spectacle, which is what in some ways we were performing ourselves.
MP We were interested in these questions almost because you don’t find them as directly in art making.
AM But it was still targeted at the art audience. I remember asking you once if you read the theatre critiques, and you said you don’t.
CH They always were super negative. Theatre people proper have always hated us. When we first opened New Theater people were angry at us because we were calling it New Theater, as if we were saying that all ‘old’ theatre is bad. No-one comes up to you, after the opening of your exhibition and says This was fucking terrible! But in theatre at a premiere people are like: Fuck you!
HO They were saying this?
AM They were writing it.
MP You can’t leave in the middle of an exhibition in a huff. You just leave.
AM But they did that?
MP Yes a few times.
CH But also at New Theater.
We should get stuff for people to throw.
MP Next time.
CH But if you are getting so angry that you want to throw apples, it also means that you are getting involved. I don’t think that it is like this in the states. But we were super excited by the feedback compared with performing or showing in an art institution. Theatre was like just enough outside that people could be angry in a way. It was not necessarily always constructive. It was energizing.
AM Or it would be a new definition of constructive.
ME There is this aspect of de-skilling that is often used in academic terms as a positive term, but when I see it from the Volksbühne side you were the laboratory towards deskilling to a very hybrid way. In the end it is almost impossible to work so intensely on something without acquiring skills.
CH Yes, now we are fucked. I know way too much now. But actually what is interesting at the Volksbühne is that we got to ask hyper-skilled craftsmans in these workshops like: what would you do? I’m used to cutting things out myself. But working there you lean back and take your hand off the wheel and things start to take a shape that is super weird. That is how the machine works, and this for us was also a kind of opposite de-skilling.
CH But now we want to make a small bar.
AM Do you think that the lack of an art bar is because nobody wants one.
OH It is needed,
AM I sometimes have the feeling that artists at the moment are mistrusting artists, and other people are mistrusting artists even more. Like when you said that at the theatre they hate art and artists. Most of the people are in communities, be it the queer community or the exiled or migrant community that they value more while they are still working as artist, or from a materialistic perspective they share common interests in having the same work processes, but this stands back behind lines like race class gender in forming a community. People would say, I better spend my time with “real” people than with this art crowd, and this is very strange because are they not “real” and which reality excludes the artist.
And then people are not addressing anything anymore. Just don’t touch.
CH There is a lot of fear. I also think it is hard to produce something in Berlin at the moment. And you feel safe in your community because nobody can tell you, you are not queer.
But that is the opposite of safe space because it is about particulars. Because it comes with this sort of zoning.
MP Going into Volksbühne was one way of going outside, by trying to shift to a different discourse or working method, even when there is no way of getting outside of it.
CH Or a different version.
AM My identities don’t allow me a real way out. I guess I have to deal with the majority here, I mean I could talk about women—
MP We find it difficult to use the term community.
CH The C-word
AM It was even difficult to write it down somehow for me, but it comes up, and others seemingly have one, and then you think about Nancy’s community of people who don’t have a community, and it is somehow always strange to be left out.
Carla Lonzi, if I believe her, said it was becoming super easy to produce once she started to write within and for the rivolta femminile. Before as an art critique she always felt estranged to her writing but she became super productive once she started to write for this immediate audience.
ME Relations are very local or very remote. But there are these relations between marginal communities. People in Vilnius who very dedicatedly read what is produced in San Francisco.
AM And I think this is because people in San Francisco, like Dodie Bellamey whom you had listened to two days ago, they are producing within a group.
HO This was so interesting, she was defining all these groups around her body, around her sexuality, around her phantasy,
AM and about her production and writing. Or was it only around these biopolitical lines?
HO She kept on saying I am a white female feminist. She kept on saying these straight things about herself. In the middle she would like confess, I am like this, I represent this. And she would always include people: Oh he or she is here tonight. It was constantly about these different kinds of places where people are, where groups of people are, and the world that you can’t avoid and this is amazing.
And in this kind of setting. We were all sitting so close to each other. And this is this kind of spirit also of the theatre. Everyone is directly addressed.
ME But she was building up around this notion of the stalker, and recently you always needed some kind of murder to get the story going, some weird story, something to get the story running. I was wondering if she would take out the stalker element, she could write it so stringendly as well.
HO It’s about different kinds of violence.
CH Exactly. But this is the moment in TV culture, the golden era of binging on emotional and physical violence.
HO Murder mysteries
CH I am writing a murder mystery right now. And in everything I am reading, I realize how much we rely on violence to tell even the simplest stories. I wanted to write it as a sort of airport novel because it seemed like a way to operate without thinking about audience. But that’s impossible.