Das Künstler-Kollektiv K.A.U. und Małgorzata Wdowik hinterfragen in ihrem Projekt “Transit Monumental” die Rolle des wieder wieder erstarkenden Nationalismus in Polen. Wir sprachen mit den Künstlern über ihr Projekt.
You are an german-swiss-polish Art-Collective. What brought you together and in which topics are you interested in?
To be precise, we are a german-swiss Collective (K.A.U.) and Małgorzata Wdowik. As K.A.U. (Philipp Bergmann, Thea Reifler, Matthias Schönijahn) we have been working together for some time already. TRANSIT MONUMENTAL – Droga Niepodległości is the first production we are realizing together with Malgorzata. We met her at the institute for applied theatre studies in Gießen.
Back then, we often ended up talking about theatre in Poland and Germany, its tradition and how the scenes look today. But also about the current political situation and the history of both countries. It was in the time, when the government in most European countries shifted more to the right-conservative side.
Poland is dealing very offensively with its national narratives. Germany is more hiding them, for known reasons. This was something we were very interested in from a theatrical point of view. We were also fascinated by different performances of national consciousness in the past and today, for example the big parades and stagings in Soviet Union. Which was also one starting point of this project.
Your project deals with the polish independence day and Marsz Niepodległości (Independence March), what does it mean for you?
The polish independence day with all its different events was a starting point for our thoughts about this project. We looked especially at Marsz Niepodległości, a very controversial event on this day. Małgorzata told us a lot about it and explained us which different ideological concepts are at stake there, not only on the independence day, but already before in the whole public discussions. This was the situation we had a closer look to: the many layers of performance of national consciousness and their stagings that become visible. We also had talks with people who are dealing with this topic for years, to get a better inside view. The congress at the end of the project will be concerned with the situation of this march.
You are dealing with questions of national consciousness. What significance does it have today?
The question intends that the importance of national consciousness has changed. We don’t know if this happened. Our work is more concerned with the relations between the narrations and the forms of national consciousness: how are they represented, the symbols and performances connected with them.
On our trip we will mainly meet groups that are keeping up traditions in their regions. Their narrations are not in the first place concerned with national consciousness. But in all these cases a common ground is crucial to organise in a group, an association, an institution. This is in a way also what our trip is about. In our fiction, we as an escort submit us under the idea of an independent monument and we ask other people to support us doing the same. Almost all of them consented in doing this.
Do you see in Poland and elsewhere an empowerment of nationalism?
In Poland this topic is very important at the moment, because there will be elections soon and everything looks like the right wing party will win. Nationalism becomes very popular, because it has a very clear agenda and also because it makes use of many strong symbols and performances. More pluralistic movements do not have this “advantage” or consciously do not want to make use of it.
How exactly does you project for the SPIELART Festival look like? Can we take part in your trip? What can we expect?
The red line and center of the project TRANSIT MONUMENTAL is a wooden object, 10 meters long weighting half a ton. This object was a former stage design of the performance group ongoing project. They went to Beirut and therefore had to give it away. We found it very interesting as an object, as it is a very well done structure of massive wood, and its so big and unwieldy. If you remove it from stage, it creates its own stage. Around this object, we built the fiction that it is an independent monument, that has neither a place nor a meaning. We will escort this monument from Munich to Warsaw, visiting different areas along the way and celebrating it in the different contexts. This fiction was our vehicle to get in contact with different associations and individuals that will perform for our monument on its way. This “monumental road-trip” so to say will be documented on video. Everyday from the 31st of October to the 6th of November, SPIELART will receive a new Episode, which the audience can see in the Gasteig.
But there will also be two live events framing the trip. On the 30th of October, the audience is invited to celebrate with us a small goodbye-event for the independent Monument in the Blackbox of Gasteig. The event will start at 16:00, right after the opening of Art in Resistance. In this good-bye-event, the monument will be revealed officially and will be sent on its trip to Warsaw. Right on the next day our road-movie-diary will start in a video installation in the foyer of Gasteig as part of the exhibition Art in Resistance.
The trip ends with a live event in Warsaw, that will be streamed and translated in Ampere Munich.
What are you planning in Warsaw?
In Warsaw, we will first of all be very happy to arrive at the destination of our trip.
On the 7th of November, we will then set up our monument in the theatre space Komuna// Warszawa, where it will be the backdrop for a congress about Marsz Niepodległości. Groups and representatives of the different political camps are invited in order to present their ways of performing the polish national consciousness on this day and their utopias about it. There will be a live-stream and live-translation of the congress in Ampere in Munich. Also, one of us will be present for a framing of the live-stream in Munich.
To a certain degree this whole project is also an experiment. We don´t know how it will work out and end, but we try to frame it as strict as possible.
You can follow all the episodes and also the congress live on: www.kau-kollektiv.de