The three-part project “*Topie – Space is the Case” – Publication – Performance – Exhibition
follows an interdisciplinary approach and interweaves different artistic genres -literature, performance, visual arts and music- into one overall experience.
*Topie is the title and occasion of the first part of the project, the publication, an anthology published by GEH8 Verlag.
Fourteen authors from all over Germany and Iran wrote texts in the form of short stories, poems, tracts and excerpts from novels, which were edited and expanded for the anthology. Drawings by the artist André Tempel were assigned to the texts, mostly by the authors themselves. The only impulses for the authors were the working title *topie and the annual theme of GEH8 Space is the case.
In its original meaning, the Greek word “topie” refers to concepts such as place, location, or space. However, it means not only a physical space, but above all an imaginary space, as in dystopia or utopia. The development of such spaces of thought is the result of creative creation, whether it manifests itself as sound space, image space, or narrative space. They are playgrounds of the possible, projection surfaces for visionaries. But even beyond these lines of thought, the question of space plays an important role in current social debates: for example, in the dispute over affordable housing, the preoccupation with the earth as a living space, or in territorial conflicts such as the war in Ukraine.
The motto Space is the Case is a variation of the slogan Space is the Place; title of an Afrofuturist film from the early 1970s. The film, starring jazz musician Sun Ra in the title role, has been interpreted by critics “as an artistic exploration of the realities of life for people of color, in the context of which themes of alienation, the experience of ‘otherness’ and ‘strangeness,’ and expectations of a possible utopian future are addressed.” (Alondra Nelson)
As an art and cultural center, we rely in our work on the capacity of art to create spaces for encounter, exchange and awareness. The project *topie – Space is the Case is an experimental format for creating space in a broader sense. It opens and shows spaces for a diverse society, where social plurality is thought of as the norm and not the exception. At the same time, we thus stimulate reflection on spaces that prevent plurality, that exclude, marginalize, curtail the freedom of individuals to an extent detrimental to democratic society. In doing so, we draw attention to precarious spatial realities and marginalized groups.
“For the performance, the performative anthology reading in the hall of GEH8, I wrote a libretto as well as a speaking and singing text for the soloists of the ensemble AuditivVokal Dresden – an extract of all texts that connects and resonates the heterogeneous contents. The first draft of the libretto, including the spatio-temporal structural design by Friedrich Hausen, is documented in the book and served as the starting point for the compositions by Alberto Arroyo and Samir TimajChi. Conducted and rehearsed by Olaf Katzer, passages of the libretto are sung and spoken overlapping. Thus the texts grow into each other and become one, interrupted by the short “conventional readings” of the individual authors. The narrative structures of the texts dissolve and are replaced by spatial orders: in the text space in this publication, on the paper as a typeface, in the pictorial translation of the drawings, on the phonetic level of the texts as a sound space, the positioning of the readers and the singers, and finally within the associative spaces and networks created by the texts. Strategies of fragmenting and collaging as well as the physicality of the events in the live performance challenge rehearsed habits of hearing and seeing – and open new doors of perception.
It is an exciting experiment for all of us, an invitation, an offer that deliberately refrains from controlling reception.
How will the Babylonian babble of voices sound? How do the readers experience their fragmented, collaged and interpreted text in the environment of the many voices? Do the supposed chaos, the strange and unexpected in one’s own text allow for new realms of truth and zones of reality? Possibly “strenuous truths” according to F. Mayröcker come to light, for authors, readers and recipients. Can the listeners overcome the perceived strangeness, the wanting to be classified into known successions in this jumble of texts, word, noise and sound sequences? Do they perceive it as a provocation that generates resistance? Or do they succeed in evoking fantasy, in developing a curiosity about how the body deals with new experiences? How is the real acoustic simultaneity grasped? Do only excessive demands and defensiveness arise or do the listeners trust the individual experience and can experience it as an expansion of their own horizons?
It is important to give the * (asterisk), everyone’s asterisk, space, to develop a *topia that is not only put into words and audible or readable, but can be seen and felt, experienced.
The stage design for the performance is created by André Tempel, two installations in the hall of GEH8, based on the texts and his drawings, the attempt to translate the formal language into three-dimensionality. A large tower, a tower of balls. The black and red lines from the drawings go into space, red moons, lunar eclipse. Straps and carabiners create a net that balances the small, smooth, round points of contact – not yet intersections or sets – of the large medicine balls, vertically as well as horizontally. The interior of the ball tower is walkable. How will it change the audibility of the people speaking, does it sonically exclude or include? Will it increase the presence of the people in the tower? How does André Tempel’s openwork foil wall in the steel structure of the former work stand for repairing rail freight cars separate or attract? Does it hide or enhance the effect of the counterpart on the other side? The former work stand is used as a conductor’s stand. Can Olaf Katzer make visual contact with all participants from the height? How does he experience the intersections and intersecting points of the voices? What sound image does he interpret from the compositions?
Accompanying the book and the performance, four different interpretations of the title *topie will confront each other in the workroom of GEH8. On one wall, André Tempel’s small-format drawings depict female and male figures in their confinement and breaking out of their bodies/spaces. Traveled far, from a former part of Europe, is the hand-embroidered work “Brexit Tapestry” by artist Brigitte Mierau, which occupies the space on the opposite wall. On 22 fabric pages, the artist describes how Great Britain closed itself off from the European space within fifty years and became an isolated island. The space on the ceiling and floor is occupied by Iranian filmmaker Mahsa Foroughi and graphic designer Mahsa Momayezi. Mahsa Foroughi is an Iranian (Australian) poet, filmmaker, critic, and architect, and received her PhD for her interdisciplinary research on architecture, film, and philosophy that challenges the status quo of human perception. Mahsa Momayezi will create a new work on site to mark the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s assassination and in resonance with Iranian Pajand Soleymani’s short story in this book. By Mahsa Foroughi we will project a film in the space.
This three-part format, especially the performative reading, will be established and continued as a format.
I thank all those named and unnamed who have helped build and inhabit this possibility space.”
– Kathrin Assauer (idea, concept, direction) –
Sopran: Anne Stadler, Coco Lau, Katharina Salden, Lidia Luciano
Alt: Julia Böhme, Constanza Filler
Bass: Benjamin Mahns-Mardy, Mykola Piddubnyk, Cornelius Uhle
Tenor: Oliver Chubb
Conductor and musical direction: Olaf Katzer
Composers: Alberto Arroyo, Samir TimajChi
Authors: Arash Alborz, Kathrin Assauer, Marcel Beyer, Michael Duszat, Ruth. G. Gross, Grisella Kreiterling, Martina Lenz, Marc Matthies, Masoud Riahi, Dorothee Schröder, Anja Schwennsen, Pajand Soleymani, Astrid Stähler, Silke Tobeler, Ferdinand Vicončaij
*TOPIE – SPACE IS THE CASE: A performative reading
When: Friday, September 22, 2023
Admission: 6.30 p.m.
Start: 7 pm
WERKRaum Exhibition „*TOPIE“ with Pop-up-Reading for the DCA-OPEN-Gallery-Tour
Vernissage: Friday, September 22, 2023, 7 p.m.-2 p.m.
Pop-up readings as part of the DCA-OPEN gallery tour: Saturday, September 23, 1-3 p.m.
Duration: September 22 – October 8, 2023
Opening Hours: Viewing of the workroom by appointment or viewable at any time through the window on the walking street
The Project is supported by Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen. Thank you very much!