»Did you think of the children?«
The need to accelerate societal change is becoming ever more pressing and youth-led activism is on the rise – the school strikes for climate initiated by Greta Thunberg being one example. In this context, what do we as adults choose to show or tell children? What do we still consider off-limits? Are we being too careful or are we panicking? Where does our responsibility lie to create art that reflects a difficult reality children are an active part of? In this discussion we talk with visual artist Freddy Tsimba, curator Karina Griffith and theatre director Hannah Biedermann about how their practice relates to the future, to audiences of different ages and privileges.
Hannah Biedermann first studied acting at the schule des theaters (Theater der Keller) in Cologne, then scenic arts at the University of Hildesheim. Since graduating in 2010, she has worked as a director, performer and theatre pedagogue in the broad field of children's and youth theatre. She works for festivals such as SPURENSUCHE - a nationwide meeting of independent children's and youth theatres or AUGENBLICK MAL!, leads workshops for children and young people on contemporary theatre and stages as a guest director at theatres such as Theater Marabu, COMEDIA Theater Cologne, Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Stadttheater Ingolstadt, JungesEnsemble Stuttgart, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Theater Strahl or the GRIPS Theater Berlin, where she advocates children's right to their very own art, but always strives for a contemporary form and complex social themes. In 2007, she founded her theatre group, pulk fiktion, with which she can pursue her interest and her search for genre-spanning and interdisciplinary forms beyond classical narratives for young audiences without consideration of losses. All productions were invited to various national and international festivals. »Papas Arme sind ein Boot« received the 1st prize of the westwind Festival 2014 and pulk fiktion was awarded the George Tabori Förderpreis 2016. In 2016 Hannah Biedermann also received the Förderpreis für junge Künstlerinnen und Künstler NRW.
Karina Griffith’s curatorial and moving image works explore the themes of fear and fantasy, often focusing on how they relate to belonging. Her interests include exploring the intricacies of identity and the immigrant perspective while acting as a record of her family’s unique way of Caribbean Patois storytelling. In 2017, she curated the 3-month long festival »Republik Repair: Ten Points, Ten Demands, One Festival of Reparatory Imaginings from Black Berlin« and in 2018 she was the Decolonizing '68 Studio Grant holder at DISTRICT Berlin, culminating in her installation, »We Call it Love, An Oppositional Screening«.
Griffith’s work has been show at numerous independent film festivals and galleries, including HAU, Galerie Mytis, the Institut für Alles Mögliche, the Bemis Centre for Contemporary Art among others. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute where her research on Black authorship in German cinema interacts with theories of affect theory, intersectionality and creolization. She has written for Women in German Studies’ Special Online Section on Race and Inclusivity, Berlin Art Link and Shadow & Act. Since 2018 she is a lecturer in the Art in Context Institute at the Berlin University of the Arts.
Marie Yan is a playwright and a dramaturge for theatre and dance. In all its forms, her writing is marked by narration, dystopian motives, poetry and ethics. She studied playwriting and physical theatre in Paris, Edinburgh and Glasgow and made her writing debut with »The Fog« (Mary Leishman Theatre Award 2015), and »A Quick Decision Can be Made - a story of the Detained Fast-Track« (part of the Refugee Festival Scotland 2015).
A multilingual author, she has been commissioned among others plays for young audiences by Echtzeit Theater (»Wahrhaft Krumme Balken«, an intereactive play about lying) and the city theatre of Eskişehir (»I need to cross« entered the repertoire of the theatre in 2019). Her ongoing projects deal with the collective responsibility of the truth (»La Théorie«, production planned in Paris in 2020) and questions of uprootedness and belonging in »A borrowed place« (working title, production planned in Hong Kong in 2021).
Living in Berlin since 2016, Yan's dramaturgical work has focused mainly on feminist and postcolonial perspectives: she has collaborated among others with dance collective Grupo Oito on the piece »Unrestricted Contact«, inspired by Frantz Fanon's writings and commissioned for the Republik Repair Festival (Ballhaus Naunynstraße) and she follows the work of choregraphers Natalie Riedelsheimer and Caroline Alves with the piece »A Machine to Become_woman«. She has become part of the Theater o.N. Ensemble in 2018.
Freddy Tsimba (Kinshasa/Congo, born 1967) is a visual artist. He lives and works in his hometown Kinshasa. He became known worldwide through numerous exhibitions in Africa, Europe, Canada and China.
To oppose war with a message of remembrance and peace is Tsimba's motivation when he welds tens of thousands of old cartridge cases into oversized body silhouettes.
»My real school, even if I studied Fine Arts in Kinshasa, is the street where I get plenty of supplies [...] and when I go to my studio, »my humanitarian corridor« («mon couloir humanitaire») as I call it, I throw up everything that the street has given me to see, through what I touch - wire, sheet metal, etc., to pay tribute to those people who are everywhere victims of the injustices of others, of misunderstandings. Being an artist is an obsession.«
Tsimba is invited to speak at the FRATZ Symposium about his work and to discuss with us postcolonialism and artistic freedom, as well as motivations and effects of artistic creation.