Thematic Sessions on Local Specificity and Global Recognition

Session 1: Global Recognition, 10: 10 AM – 11: 50 AM CET, Dec. 8th

Performing Connectedness: Intercontinental Collaborations of the Future (Amelie Deuflhard)

In a short input, Amelie Deuflhard reports on Kampnagel’s collaborations with Asian companies and artists. Her partners to date include Toshiki Okada, Tian-Zhou Chen, Ho Tzu-Nyen, and Eisa Jocson, among others. From the perspective of an international theatre producer, Amelie speculates – in the sense of the “theater of the future” – about which formats, aesthetics, and themes could be at the core of artistic collaborations in the time to come, and how we can jointly open up new avant-garde spheres between the continents.

Art of Voice and Body – Introducing a new transborder art language in the art field and to the public (Aine Nakamura)

Under an Unnamed Flower is a 40-minute performance I presented at the Venice Biennale this year as a winner of the site-specific performance. I performed outdoors at Campo Santo Stefano in Venice, using vocal sound-making, spoken words, non-notated melodies, and body movements, connecting multiple stories and memories in bodies through gestures and objects. In this work I created site-specifically in Venice, there were several connectors to the storytelling such as an Apple or parachute. I would like to talk about the background of this work, and what has led me to my idiosyncratic artistic practice that crosses the art boundaries from music, and theater to dance, with my gender politics being involved. Then, I will discuss new artistic themes and questions I have such as the subjectivity of Asian women’s bodies, autonomous storytelling, and avoidance of nationalistic associations.

From ethnic art and culture to subculture, from subculture to high culture, and cracks and breaks in high culture (in the example of Berlin) (Nurkan Erpulat)

In his speech, Nurkan Erpulat is going to talk about how the majority of society understood and treated the cultural offerings, especially theater by Turks, migrants, and later the children of migrants, and what changed in the mid-00s.

The ‘pesky’ problem of Global (mis)Recognition (Ming Poon)

Who makes up the ‘global’? Who decides whom should be given recognition? What and who gets left out or falls through the cracks? Who benefits from “global recognition” in the long run? These are recurring questions that are often brought up by the Asian artists whom Ming Poon works with and which he also has to negotiate, as an Asian artist working within the European environment. Ming talks about his personal experience navigating through these questions and discusses how they shape his current performance, Exotic Animal, which deals with the exotic gaze in the European art market and cultural scene. 

The application of traditional Chinese Nuo masks in contemporary theatre: A discussion on the wearing and symbolism of the masks in the performance of Shui Sheng (Zhao Miao)

Session 2: Local Specificity, 10: 10 AM – 11: 50 AM CET, Dec. 9th

Hesitant Japan: Queering Relationalities in Theater der Welt 2023 (Kyoko Iwaki)

Legibility together with visibility are two of the many contested terms in Queer Studies, as by doing so, the subject, indeed, becomes an understandable entity, but also, perhaps unwillingly, becomes an agent that submits to the centralizing logic of modern liberal humanism. In order to counter this centripetal force and avoid becoming a supplementary narrative of the West, Hentyle Yapp calls to resort to the ‘logics of the minor,’ which helps us ‘hesitate’ – pause, for a moment – and not immediately be enfolded in the normative discursivities (Yapp 2021, 4-5). Using this queer framework of the ‘minor’ as a dramaturgical methodology, this paper questions how, in theatre and performances, narratives and dramaturgies of Japanese artists have shifted from the major to the minor; visuality to fugitivity; and from the willingness to be centralized to maintaining the peripheral positioning. And beneath all these shifts, I argue that there lies an underlying ‘hesitance’ to enter the centre of the hegemonic artworld, though in different tonalities: hesitance coming from inferiority fearing failure (Umesao 1974, 31) and hesitance of performing legible ‘success’ (Halberstam 2011, 3). To deliver the argument through comparative analysis, I will refer to two different renditions of the Theater der Welt festival both presented in Frankfurt-am-main: the 1985 edition where artists such as Suzuki Tadashi were invited, and, the upcoming 2023 edition realized by two Japanese programmers including myself. How can hesitance be used as a dramaturgical tool to address those subtle issues beyond the legible and the visible, and how can hesitant dramaturgy become a political action for queer Japan?

The Sunflower House (Dan Thy Nguyen)

In 1992, hundreds of neo-Nazis and thousands of local residents besieged an initial reception centre for asylum seekers and an adjacent block of flats of former Vietnamese contract workers in Rostock-Lichtenhagen for days. The atmosphere heated up for days without the police intervening in any significant way. Finally, incendiary devices flew and the buildings were stormed. »Sonnenblumenhaus« documents the largest and almost forgotten racist pogrom in German post-war history and processes the survivors’ point of view. Dan Thy Nguyen (director and producer) talks about the origin of this theater piece about Buddhism and Communism and the need for a new humanist approach to the arts.

Go AI or Die? The Future of Theatermaking (WANG Chong)

Arguably, the theater had been in deep trouble even before the pandemic. As human experiences have been increasingly digital for decades, the trend seems to be avoidable in theater-making. Based on his practice of online theater and AI-focused research, Wang Chong will discuss many possibilities for the performing arts in the coming age.

Cultivating Temporary Local(s) (Scarlet Yu)

Scarlet Yu would like to trace her transcultural artistic practice trajectories to extend the thinking about the potential of cultivating temporary local(s) and how that could generate a supportive network. She will give examples of works produced with different systems and infrastructures that are not necessarily co-production.

Crossing Over as a Strategy: from the body to stage, from institution to environment (Xiaoyi Liu)

I have been always looking for new possibilities in Asian cultural exchange. From the beginning, I have developed a strong interest in the exchanges between bodies and training methods that stem from different cultural backgrounds and art forms. In time, I learn to appreciate the creative possibilities brought forth by these cultural and art form exchanges and began to look for “Asian Contemporary” possibilities through crossovers of cultures and forms. In the years that followed, when I began working as the artistic director of theatre companies and festivals, I am forced out of my comfort zone as an artist, and I start to look at these exchanges from my new vantage position. I learn to confront a systemic reality that is larger than the exchanges between artists and art forms, to include the interactions and dialogues between cultural organisations and the larger cultural environment. Thus,  from the body to stage, from institution to environment – I begin to re-imagine how crossing-over can be a strategy to confront and to challenge existing cultural frameworks.