Livestreamed on this page Saturday 16 May 2020 at 9 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 17:00 BEST (London, UTC+1) / 18:00 CEST (Belgium, UTC+2).
School of Resistance—Episode One: This Madness Has to Stop
Opening speech of Wiener Festwochen by Kay Sara. Followed by a debate with Tania Bruguera and Milo Rau, moderated by Lara Staal
NTGent presents School of Resistance - Episode One: This madness has to stop livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 16 May 2020 at 9 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 17:00 BEST (London, UTC+1) / 18:00 CEST (Belgium, UTC+2).
On 20 April 2020, the oil price dipped below zero for the first time in history. It wasn’t the only world record caused by COVID-19. In no more than a few months, a nasty virus was able to pull off what worldwide protest marches and general strikes couldn’t do: slowing down our planet. Correction: slowing down all human activities on this planet.
Suddenly, as a society, we remember the meaning of ‘economy’ as a way to support life and not to make profit at whatever cost. But how can we shape the future of our planet, without falling back into old damaging patterns? To solve the problems we are facing today and to come up with valuable alternatives for the future, the biweekly livestream School of Resistance creates a platform of experts of change around the world: artists, activists, politics and philosophers
The first episode This madness has to stop is realized in the context of and with the support of the Wiener Festwochen. With a speech by Kay Sara (Brazil), followed by a discussion with Tania Bruguera (Cuba) and Milo Rau (Belgium), moderated by Lara Staal (Netherlands)
The online series School of Resistance starts off with a speech by the indigenous artist and activist Kay Sara. Her speech should have opened the Wiener Festwochen live on the stage of the Burgtheater Vienna. But COVID-19 decided differently and Kay Sara sends a video from the Amazon. Her message is clear: today’s turbo-capitalist system poses an irreversible threat to the Amazon, the planet’s green lung, and therefore has to be stopped. An accusation, an outcry, a wake-up call.
Following the speech, the Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera, the Swiss director Milo Rau, and the Dutch curator and moderator of the talk Lara Staal engage in a dialogue about forms of activism in the arts today. Another meeting that should have happened live during the Wiener Festwochen, but inevitably takes place from the artists’ homes instead.
Kay Sara, an indigenous artist and activist, grew up in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and is committed to the adequate representation of indigenous people and the preservation of their environment against the threat of mining companies and the agribusiness. She will play the role of Antigone in Milo Rau’s production of Sophocles’ Antigone in the Amazon.
Tania Bruguera is a Cuban performance artist and activist and uses her artistic work to examine political power structures and their effect on society's most vulnerable people. Her work has been represented in leading collections of MoMA and Tate Modern among other places.
Milo Rau is director, author and the artistic director of NTGent (Belgium). Since 2002, he has created and published more than 50 stage plays, films, books and political interventions and has been rewarded with several honours and prices such as the European Theatre Prize in 2018.
Lara Staal: Good evening everyone, and welcome to the opening of Wiener Festwochen and the first episode of the "School of Resistance." My name is Lara Staal. I'm a curator, writer, maker, and researcher. And I'm more than happy to enter into conversation with artist Milo Rau, and Tania Bruguera whom I will introduce in a bit more detail in a moment. Normally, artist and activist Kay Sara would have opened the Wiener Festwochen today. About two hours ago she would have been on stage in the Burgtheater in Vienna. But as we all know, COVID-19 changed this scenario drastically and therefore we will be watching and listening to her through a video that she made in the north of Brazil where she's staying right now. Wiener Festwochen would also have organized a series of talks reflecting upon the heritage of theatre director and filmmaker, Christoph Schlingensief. And one of these conversations would have been between Tania Bruguera and Milo Rau reflecting upon the work he made 20 years ago, "Please Love Austria." And Tania and Milo would have talked about the concept of integration and the idea of artivism. So we're very happy that they are with us today. And that we can open the festival virtually. Which is on the same time the launch of a series of online conversations under the title of, "School of Resistance." An initiative of Milo Rau and NTGent, the city theatre NTGent in Belgium. The "School of Resistance" takes the dipping of the old oil price below zero on the April the 20th as the starting, due to the COVID-19 crisis, as a starting point to reflect upon the possible scenarios this current crisis could lead to and invited experts of change around the world like politicians, activists, artists, and philosophers to reflect together. This project is funded and supported by NTGent, IIPM, Akademie der Kunste Berlin, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Medico International, and Merve Verlag. In two weeks the next episode will take place with scholar and environmental activist and author Vandana Shiva and climate justice activist and founder of Youth For Future Africa, Vanessa Nakate. And under the title, Making the World Habitable, we will talk about the situation in India and central Africa from an environmental point of view. For everyone who's listening, you can send questions by mailing to SchoolofResistance at NTGent.be. Or by commenting on the live stream on the Facebook pages of NTGent Wiener Festwochen, or IIPM, or on Twitter by including hashtag SchoolofResistance. Before I introduce our guests further I would like to introduce Kay Sara. As we're going to listen to her speech in a moment and this will be the entry point for a conversation with Milo and Tania. Kay Sara is an Indigenous artist and activist that grew up in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and is committed to the adequate representation of Indigenous people and the preservation of their environment against the threat of mining companies and the agribusiness. She will play the role of Antigone in Milo Rau's production of "Sophocles" which is titled "Antigone In the Amazon." And then I’m honored to now go to her speech.
[A pre-recorded speech begins playing.]
Kay Sara [speaking in Portuguese]: This madness must stop. This speech begins with many connectives. I should have been on the Burgtheater stage today to open the Wiener Festwochen. I would have been the first Indigenous woman to give a speech in this theatre, which is said to be the largest and richest theatre in the world. I would have started with a quote from a European classic, Sophocles’ play Antigone: “Many things are monstrous, but nothing is more monstrous than mankind.” I would have come to you directly from our rehearsals in the Amazon, a new European-Brazilizian staging of the play Antigone. I would have played the role of Antigone, who rebels against the ruler Creon, who does not want to allow his brother to be buried because he is considered an enemy of the State. The choir would have consisted of survivors of a massacre of landless people caused by the Brazilian government. We would have carried out this new Antigone on an occupied road that crossed the Amazon—those forests that are constantly on fire. It would not have been a play, but an action. Not an act of art, but an act of resistance: against that state power that is destroying the Amazon. But none of this happened. The road that cuts through the Amazon forest wasn’t occupied and I did not play the role of Antigone. We are all scattered around the globe again, and we only see each other on a screen—like now. My European friends asked me how I’m doing. I’m fine. I am in the Amazon, in the north of Brazil, on the banks of the Oiapoque river. I’m surrounded by nature; it protects me and nourishes me too. I live in the rhythm of birds singing and the rain, and I performed an ancient ritual for my protection, made by my family. For the first time in over 500 years, Europe and America are separated again. I belong to the third clan of the Tariano people, the Clan of Thunder. I’m a daughter of the Thunder God. Once, a myth says, we Tariano people were people of stone. But in modern times, we assumed a human body, so we could communicate with the people who came to us. My mother, a Tukana, gave me the name Kay Sara. Which mean “she who cares for others.” On my father’s side, I am of the Tariano people. But I speak to you now in Brasilian. Like everyone, I am a mixture of many things: I am Tariana and Tukana, a woman, an actress, an artist, a resistance fighter. I speak to you being all of that. We Natives are called Indians. But I insist that we are called Indigenous. “Indians” is an insulting word that was imposed upon us by the invaders, to say that we are inferior. So, I want to change that. I became actress to talk about us, about our resistance. For a long time, our story has been told with the words of non-Indigenous people. Now is the time to tell our own story. Our misfortune began when the Spanish and Portuguese came to our land. First came the soldiers, then came the clergy. Along with the Europeans came the diseases. Thousands of tribes died. Millions more died at the hands of soldiers and clergy. But this event has been forgotten and is not written down anywhere. They murdered in the name of one God and one civilization, in the name of progress and profit. Some worked for them. But these Indigenous and Black people were enslaved and killed. Today, there are only a few of us left. I’m one of the last of the third clan of the Tariano. And a few weeks ago, the next illness came to us from abroad: the new Corona virus. You may have heard that in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon, the disease is particularly terrible. There is no time for proper funerals. People lie in mass graves filled up by tractors. Others lie dead in the streets, unburied like Antigone’s brother. The whites use the chaos to penetrate even deeper into the forests. The forests burn, the deforestation has become even worse. Who does this? Whoever falls into the hands of the loggers is murdered. And what has the President done? What he always does: shaking hands with his supporters, mocking the dead. He has instructed his collaborators to let the Indigenous people to their fate. This is a call to murder us. He wants to complete the genocide of the Indigenous people, which has been going on for 500 years. I know, you are used to speeches like this. When it’s already too late, a seer always shows up. When Cassandra or Teiresias appear in the Greek tragedies, you know that the disaster has already taken its course. For you like to hear us sing, but you don’t like to hear us speak. And when you listen to us, you don’t understand. The problem is not hat you don’t know that our forests are burning, and our people are dying. The problem is you’ve gotten used to this knowledge. But we haven’t. So, I will tell you what all of you know already. A few years ago, the tributaries of the Amazon dried up for the first time in living memory. If we don’t act now, in ten years, the Amazon ecosystem will collapse. The heart of this planet will stop beating. That’s what our scientists say, and that’s what you scientists say too, and maybe it’s the only thing they agree on. We will disappear if we don’t act. We cannot be so selfish to deny the future generation the most important thing we have, Nature. And with it, everything we need to survive. We’ve gotten a lot of petitions signed by celebrities in the last few weeks. You want to fly less, kill less, steal less. But how can you believe that after 500 years of colonization, after thousands of years of subjugation of the world, a thought can come to you that will not only bring more destruction? If you listen to yourself, you will find only your guilty conscience. And when you travel the world, you will find only the dirt with which you have contaminated us. There is no turning back. But we can’t let it destroy us anymore. I’m not afraid for myself, I’m afraid for our descendants. Now it is time for you to be silent. The time has come to listen. You need us, the prisoners of your world, to understand yourselves. Because the thing is so simple: there is no gain in this world, there is only life. And that’s why it’s good that I’m not on the Burgtheater stage. That I’m not talking to you as an actress, because it’s not about art anymore, it’s not about theatre anymore. Our tragedy happens here and now, in the world, before our very eyes. And maybe that’s what worries me most when I hear Creon speak: He knows he’s wrong. He knows what he’s doing is wrong. That it’s wrong in every way. That it will bring his fall, the fall of his family, the Apocalypse. And yet he does it. He criticizes himself; he hates himself, but he still does what he hates. This madness must end. Stop being like Crean Let’s be like Antigone. Because when lawlessness becomes law, resistance becomes duty. Let’s resist together, let’s be human. Each in his own way and place, united by our differences and our love, for the life that unites us all.
Lara: Welcome back. The speech you've just heard, the letter of Kay Sara is also published today and tomorrow in several newspapers around the world. Like "De Standaard," "Taz, Die Tageszeitung," "Le Soir," "Le Monde," "Republica," "De Morgen," "NSA," "The Stage," and various platforms in Brazil. Maybe before we start talking about the speech, I'd like to introduce our guests a little bit further. Unfortunately, Tania Bruguera is not yet with us which has to door with technical problems. It's not that easy from Cuba to join us online. So we are hoping that she can join us as soon as possible. We will just start the conversation. I will introduce her. So, Tania Bruguera is a Cuban performance artist and activist. She's relying on the concept of which means useful art. And she uses her work to examine political power structures. And her work has been represented on many places but amongst others MoMA and Tate Modern. And Milo Rau is director, author, and artistic director of IIPM. Which is the International Institute for Political Murder. And NTGent in Belgium. And he's also the initiator of these series of conversations. Of the "School of Resistance." So Milo, normally I would have started with asking you and Tania to give a first response on the speech as a whole. Before, let's say, diving a bit deeper in the things she said. But as Tania is not yet with us, maybe it makes sense that you give us a bit more context, as of course, this is not a new speech to you, and you've been working together. So maybe you could elaborate a little bit on the speech, what it means to you, and about the work you've been doing together.
Milo Rau: Yeah, so I know Kay Sara some, perhaps now half a year ago. When we were starting to work properly on the "Antigone in the Amazon." A kind of adaptation of the tragedy of "Sophocles" today in the north of Brazil. So, where you could say the capitalist system has it's clash with the Indigenous cultures. And for me it was very important to have in the role of Antigone, who is kind of a resistance fighter, against Creon, as she said in her speech, somebody who is an activist, an Indigenous activist. And then I knew her like this. We were starting to work in November together with the Landless Movement, a very big social movement in Brazil. Two million families occupying lands to give land to the people. Out, cutting it out of the big monocultures and so on. So a clash with of course, the government of Bolsonaro. And we wanted to kind of bring all this together. It would have premiered months ago now, or three weeks ago now. On the block transmit zoning we wanted to occupy the the street. The choir would have built from people from this Landless Movement and she would have played Antigone, but it came differently. Some weeks ago we came back to Europe. She went to her people and to the north, in the very north of Brazil. And we wanted to do an opening of the Wiener Festwochen. And then what we did, normally we write in dialogue. Always when I'm doing plays I'm kind of rehearsing and mostly listening in a way and then trying to evaluate how we can find a speech that is kind of universal. Who could express more than only the situation we are in, but perhaps the political situation. And asked her to propose a speech like this, and then we sent it back and forth and that was the outcome. Actually today, in the retranslation I found out what she actually then said in the end. And with more or less, what is in the newspapers, and in different newspapers I would say there are different versions of the speech because there are different perspectives you can have on it. But mainly I would say it's really a wake up call to say we have to act now and if we don't do it we will lose the Amazon. So that's kind of, I think the message of this whole speech. So it's a call to resistance.
Lara: Right, yes. Maybe this is also what we could speak on further. And it's really a pity that Tania is not, because she was with us just before. But it seems that she's really out of contact. We cannot even, I think, send her a message at the moment. So let's just continue with the two of us. If it comes to resistance that she really asks us to resist. She says, because when lawlessness becomes law, resistance becomes duty, in her speech. I wonder what resistance means to you, or how you are giving form to resistance through your work?
Milo: Yeah, I think in very different ways. I mean the quote you made is for me a very important quote. That I think resistance is law, is based on law, and it's based on justice. But sometimes justice and law are not the same, you know, in modern society. So for example, to take another project we did this new version of the gospel together with refugees and immigrants in south Italy. Of course there laws to regularize them etc, but they are not adopted, these laws. They are existing. And the same, there is an agricultural law in Brazil to give land to the people but it is not adopted because of the agribusiness. So you know, and that's why movements like Landless Movements, they want to install the law. So they are not criminal. It's the government that is criminal. And I think this is a quite interesting perspective you can have on civil action. That you say, you came, as Jesus says in the new gospel, you came to install the law and you don't break the law. So I think it's a very different concept from the bourgeois concept which is kind of, resistance is criminal, etc, etc, etc. I don't think so. I think the economic laws we are living in are sometimes, not always, but sometimes criminal. And of course there is a lot of ways to do so. You can give space, like perhaps when Tania will join, you can give space to voices, to knowledge that is just not allowed in our media. For example, printing the speech is just important because I think most of the people just doesn't know what happens in north of Brazil. I remember the discussions we had to prepare here. That's one idea of the "School of Resistance," too. To bring voices together we don't know, you know. And then you find out other perspectives on, for example, the corona crisis, that you wouldn't have had before. I think the next step, of course, is direct action. Is to occupy or to produce new myths. For example, Indigenous Antigone or an Indigenous activist on stage at the Burgtheater. So this is kind of another way we can do as artists. But now I see Tania is finally joining us.
Lara: Yes, it is great. Tania, can you hear us?
Tania Bruguera: Yup.
Lara: Okay, we can also hear you, that's great. I'm so happy that you can join us. I've already introduced you. I've already introduced this conversation and I asked Milo a first question which was actually a first response to the speech. So this would also be what I would like to ask you. What are your thoughts when hearing this? And specifically we were just talking about this moment when she says, when lawlessness becomes law, resistance becomes duty. Wondering what resistance means in both your works.
Tania: Okay, let me ask you a question. One second. Hello?
Milo: Hello, yup we hear you.
Tania: Yes, hi. Are we testing or are we live?
Lara: We are live.
Milo: We are live, yeah. We were waiting for you.
Tania: One second, because I had it for one o'clock. One second, one second.
[Tania speaks to someone off-camera.]
Milo: It was really difficult to bring her in. We've tried with Zoom, we tried with even another program.
Tania: Sorry, I'm back, yeah. Can you tell me again?
Lara: No problem, so yes we've already started and I already introduced this conversation and I've introduced you both. And I ask for a kind of general response to the speech of Kay Sara that we've just been listening to. So I would be interested to hear your thoughts and specifically we were also reflecting upon this moment where she says, that when lawlessness becomes law, resistance becomes duty. And so I would be interested to hear and Milo also already responding with what resistance means for you in your work.
Tania: Well, resistance is to understand pain, for me. Because it is quite hard, because you lose a lot. When you resist you lose a lot. But the pain that injustice, I mean I always say that injustice is a feeling that you have in your body. You know, it's something that is real and that is not completely, let's say theoretical. You know, it's something that you feel with your body. And we know by now that a lot of laws are made not to create justice or balance but they are created precisely to protect a group of people in society.
Milo: Lawlessness, yeah.
Tania: And that's when the lawlessness come in because the law's supposed to be for everybody not for a group of people, yeah.
Tania: Wow, absolutely, yeah.
Tania: But this is painful, resistance is painful because you have the times of politics are very long and the time of life are very short. And many times you resist and you feel that nothing has been accomplished. And you have to keep going. So it is a very specific exercise that one has to do as an activist. Do you understand? Even if you don't see anything moving, that you have to keep going, you know.
Lara: Thanks for that. I think it would be interesting to hear more about how you, for example in your work, try to apply or to break open the law and make sure that this is, let's say a more egalitarian principle or it becomes something that can protect a group of people instead, or let's say everyone, instead of a group of people. But maybe before we enter more into content it would be interesting to hear a little bit for our context. Because of course, "School of Resistance" is born in a moment of crisis, which is this COVID-19 crisis. And I think it's, I mean we tend to say we're all in it together and we're all together, but I'm afraid this is not the case and there are quite some differences. So it would be interesting to hear a little bit from both of you what this crisis looks like in Cuba, in Germany, in Belgium and what the situation is.
Tania: I think we're having a double crisis. Because we are in the crisis of totalitarianism that we were already living before the COVID and we are in the crisis of this huge pandemia. You know, global pandemia. And yeah, both are related because this pandemia can be, I see it as a way to reset everything. You know, as a way to not wait anymore for doing certain things. And to decide to not wait and just try to change things that don't work. And I also feel that we have been operated for too long with a set of ethical paradigms that were not working for a majority of people. And they were abusive, actually. They were pretending to be ethical paradigms, and they were actually unethical. And so in this case here, I think here it has been okay, the way they controlled the virus. Because they have a huge control over the population so people who have more, the more control the government has over a population the best the response has been in many places. Because they know exactly where everybody lives, who they connect with, etc. So in that sense it has been good because they immediately have found people and it's quite controllable. The problem is that we had this new law, 370, which is not new, it's from a few years ago. But they're using it now where whenever you put something on the internet they don't like, the government doesn't like, then they go against you. Either to put you a super high fine that is quite impossible to pay for a majority of people, or even imprisonment. And this is an interesting tension because also we are living in a moment where governments want to show their best image, you know. Except Trump, which he's out of this world and he doesn't care about anything. But most governments want to show how good they were and how effective they were. And anything that goes against that is punished here. So that's an interesting tension that we have because through Facebook and internet, people have been more and more open about their reality, you know. And it doesn't coincide with the propaganda, basically. Yeah, so the people are pushing the government to say things on TV and stuff, that before that never happened. So, that's interesting.
Lara: So in a way you're saying that through this crisis, because the digital realm became much more dominant in a way public conversation. It's interesting because I think from the point of view of Europe it's the other way around. Like I feel a lot of debates are not happening because we are confined in our homes. In your case it's the other way around, in a way. Some sort of publicness of public discussion has been possible due, actually to dominance of digital use. But on the same time you're also making clear that this is quite a vulnerable situation.
Tania: Yeah, absolutely.
Lara: Milo, could you share a bit? How have you been looking at what's happening in Germany, Belgium, Europe as comes to the crisis?
Milo: Yeah, I mean it's quite interesting what Tania is saying, because of course what the crisis is doing at the first moment it's quite of a stop of the whole machine and a bright opening of the historic situation. And you have the impression everything can change. For example, it was interesting to see how collective action and what you know, so the knowledge of scientists, how it can be linked immediately, you know. How disciplined civic society can be and how collectively we can active. If it's a good action or not, but just this link for me was extremely interesting sociology. On the other hand, what the crisis shows and I think of course we are not living in a totalitarian system like Tania's, but you see that normality even becomes more normal and the whole system tries to establish itself and to go back where they were before. Even more normalized than before. And that's, I think the moment we are in now. When we are going back to normality and everybody understands oh wow, neoliberalism will even be stronger. We left some people behind. It will be even a bigger struggle of everybody against everybody. And you really understand that if you don't change the system, for example only in the cultural sector, if you don't make a separation between capital and art for example by a basic income, it will just continue. We have to go back to the ways of producing as before because work and art and capital is linked. So we understand that systematically we change now, or it's too late. Because the machine we even get later because we have to run behind what we lost in the last month, you know. So now as a director of a theatre, I see how we try to do even more projects. I mean this was the first motivation, do even more in the season because you have to bring now everything. Because everybody who is relying on you, on the institution, he needs it. And so you are kind of trapped in the whole system. And that's really like kind of, how can we wake up out of this dream? And everybody takes his position. For example, it was so interesting to see the intellectuals when she's saying you should now shut up and listen. What Europe was doing, giving the interpretation, or let's say the north, giving the interpretation of everything even before it happened. Slavoj Zizek produced his book I think even before COVID-19 appeared. The book was finished. So before the whole dream, the night is over. The analysis of the dream and what we have to think about and what we will do when we wake up was already made. And sometimes I think, just lie a bit back, think about it, and listen for example to Tania or listen to Kay Sara to understand what globally is happening.
Tania: There is also this anxiety, as you are signaling, no? The anxiety of being present. I think capitalism brings this anxiety of doing, doing, doing, being, being, being present all the time. That now, instead of people surviving for two months completely disconnected from the world. This is the first thing I do online. Because I was enjoying, no, I was enjoying being on my own with my thoughts, with my friend. Recuperating the emotional world that we're losing. Because capitalism is so fast, so brutal, that you're losing the humanity of it, you know. And it was beautiful to again engage with your plans, with your family, you know what I mean? And unfortunately the problem is that when we are in a crisis everybody reacts and do the right thing. As soon as the crisis finish, what happens is people forget we were in crisis and then go back to the same old, same old. Exploitation, abuse, you know fakeness. So that's the problem. I am not so excited. Like I was talking to a friend and they say, oh after this people are going to change. I'm not so sure. Because people forget, you know.
Milo: That’s interesting what you say because it's a kind of feeling, that was my feeling too. It's kind of a disintegration. You have the impression you are not linked any more to anybody. And for example, this myth, I mean it's a reality of not contacted people in the Amazon. And they don't want to be contacted because they don't know there is something outside and that there is still places in the world that are really functioning as a kind of a confinement, an eternal confinement, and you shouldn't break it up, you know. Do not be contacted. Do not be present, you know. And as you say, you forget this so fast, how it is. For example make plans, or writing down plays you will perhaps never stage. But you do it just as a, for the script, for the fun.
Tania: Yeah, yeah. I think people have lost the joy of living. You know before this, lost the joy. And this is kind of giving you, okay, go and look at details of the little things. And also, some how these kind of global thing is like, everybody should have the same rules, should want the same clothes, should want the same goal in the life. And no, as you say, there are other people who go with other rules. And this is fantastic. I hope we have more of that after this, you know. But the problem I think is structural. I think I'm glad that we talk about the loss because I think it's a structural. We need to do a structural change in the world. We cannot complain anymore. I mean, I'm tired of complaining. I think we need to build up and I always say doing art for the not yet. Meaning doing art for the society you want, not the one you have. But to start already behaving for the moments and the society and the ethics that you want to live in. Because yeah, you might not change the whole world, it's impossible, but at least you can change the way you are interacting with that world, you know. So I don't want to work anymore. I think we need to start behaving as we want everybody to behave.
Lara: I’m very ready for that Tania and I think it would be very good to continue that stream of thought. But maybe before we go into let's act upon the not yet, but on the conditions we would like to have or to see in the world. I think what you're both describing, this thing of at the one hand kind of enjoying, or reconnecting to let's say being local. And maybe also, indeed, stop being visible, presenting, having this image of success being part of this production machine. But in a way slowed down. That this is something that we embrace. And on the same time I hear you both saying, well there's not so much time to wait, we should act now. And I think this is a conflict that I hear with a lot of people, and I wonder how you are both dealing with that. Can we slow down, or is this actually very risky because maybe the system doesn't slow down and is ready to pop up whenever it can?
Milo: Yeah, I mean one possible answer to this is, I think there are two lines of it. There is of course the structural line. That there is a system being in the upcoming again and you can't kind of just slow down because then you are left behind. And that's what is happening now at the very moment. So you can't slow it down, and I think we have really structurally work on the institutions. That's why I think it's important to invade institutions and to change institutions and to perhaps create new institutions, symbolic institutions of the future. That you would say okay, let's create the institution in which we can work, by then changing the whole system how we want to work, to create the future we want to have. How can we use, for example a city theatre, or only a little project in a way that it makes sense as a institute of change. So that's why we try to work in ways which it seems very difficult. And I find, I have the impression, I found out a lot about connecting in the last weeks, for example globally. That I went back on the books I had. I was perhaps very different from Tania. I was in many, many live streams and discussions. And I was extremely happy, for example, to see how unimportant it is, the image you have. Because we have now three shitty images. We are talking together. We're in different places of the world. It's all mixed together in New York to be staged in Vienna, you know. And then Kay Sara sends us a video she made somehow with her iPhone this morning and we kind of subtitled it. And it's not like the big thing in the Burgtheater and a 1,000 people and she flies in and she does it, etc. No, it's a different way of working together. And I think this is really, really important to find out this, but on the other hand to end with. For me there is really big structure change that has to be done. And I'm always coming back on the general basic income that as long we are depending from producing, presenting, showing, being present. And if we are not we will lose everything, we can't pay our bills. So how could we ever disconnect if we don't create a parallel system in which we can kind of produce in another way.
Tania: Absolutely, no I think there are different. I mean, I totally agree with you and there are different aspects. One is the laws, because we need the change to be in place for a long time. The second one is institutions, because these are the people who implement that, the culture of the law. Let's say, of how we interact with each other or can propose an alternative. But then we have to also create an education. Like an emotional, and ethical, and physical location for people. Because people are also part of this. I mean, the laws and the system is not something alien. It's part of what we are living and it has changed all of us, you know. It has put this anxiety on us. It has put these desires on us that are not interesting or important. So I think we also need to create a long term process where we deal with emotional culture as well. And another thing that you were talking, it's interesting, because yes, now we're doing all of these immediacy which I think is an interesting way to substitute the touch. Immediacy has substituted touching somebody, no, in a way. But at the same time I wonder if we could slow down. But not slow down in a sense like, but just to make sure that you take the time things are needed. Because the other thing I'm nervous is about, we lived before in this kind of world where celebrity, and all of this was substituting art. People wanted to be famous, not to do an artwork that lasted for 300 years. You know what I mean? In terms of what they, so I think this is an interesting, that's what I'm saying about slow as well. Because I'm also wondering about the quality, in the future of art, if we keep with this quick. You know what I mean. Like when you read Goethe you have something that was said, I don't know, hundreds of years before but you still feel about it. How can we keep this, the feel of art, and the feel of justice beyond the immediacy? I don't know. I don't have any answer. I'm just asking this question that I'm asking myself now, you know. Because yeah, if you have seven Zooms a week, or whatever, like how we keep the stimulation but also the depth, you know. Because there is a balance between being stimulated and also have depth in your thoughts, no? And also time to implement. You were talking about production. I like to use the word implementation, actually. Because when I use, it might be a different way you in theatre use production, but for visual arts production is more about making things happen, you know. Whether for me implementation is a process where you bring the people for whom the work is, as part of the process of creating something, you know. And I think this is also for me part of what I would like to see after this time of COVID, you know. That people are also taken in consideration in a different way. Not only as a spectator or participants, but also as implementers, you know. The people who will implement something in their space, in their life. And also, I don't know.
Lara: Yeah, it's interesting.
Tania: Tell me what you think.
Lara: You’ve been talking before Tania, also in interviews and I've heard you saying it also in the beginning like the importance of emotions or the importance of ethics and that we're emotional beings. And I think you're both actually artists, you and Milo, that work a lot with that. And try to, let's say go beyond, I don't know, a very experimental work that's only for a group of insiders, or a very intellectual. But that you are looking, and that art may be, this is maybe also a question, is actually a way for a language that could potentially reach a lot more people.
Tania: Absolutely. I have a concept I use for my work. Sometimes I have to create concept because I don't feel I can explain myself well so I use this as a device. And the concept is, in Spanish, because sometimes Spanish is better than English, is richer. Is estetica, is the word for aesthetics. But in Spanish if you divide the word in two, it's E-S-T, wishing and that can mean the verb to be, it is. And ethics, which I love. Because for me the idea of aesthetic as the appreciation, and development of the transformation through ethics is fascinating. And it's something I'm very interested at. Not seeing only aesthetic as how you best do something, formally, etc, but also how can you, through this experiment, this emotional moment, etc, generate a new ethical reality, ethical paradigm. And that's the beauty of it, no.
Lara: So where aesthetics and ethics actually become in a way the two sides of the same coin, right? And they are always in relation to each other. I wanted actually to jump to something Kay Sara said, but now that we're here maybe it's interesting to both hear your response on the work of Schlingensief.
Milo: Yeah, can I just interfere a second? Because I see that people are asking, why Kay Sara is not here as part of the discussions and sometimes. I think it's interesting just to know that it is impossible, because she sent us this video. It takes eight hours to only upload a 10 minute video. She's in the middle of the Amazon and it's really kind of, it was crazy to only get this speech made and sent to us. So it's completely impossible that she's with us. I hope soon she will.
Lara: Yes, thank you for saying that, Milo. It's true, I didn't see it in the chat immediately. Or I didn't get that this is actually a question already coming from the audience. And it's of course a very understandable one, because of course it's one of the voices that we would really like to hear more. But I think you contextualized very well why. And I think one of the questions that we are also, I'd like to pose to you both has to do of course with this possibility of international collaboration and on the same time, of course feeling very much constrained. So the international exchange is under attack, we could say. It wasn't for capital, it wasn't for goods. It is now for people, it has always been for certain people and not for others. And the question is, of course, what kind of future we will go to if it comes to that. And I guess, I don't know. Milo you sounded quite positive. You were saying I like this idea of being connected to all these people in different ways. Which, yeah, seems like you are actually embracing this digital realm as something that might be progressive to. Whereas, of course we could also have questions or doubts about that.
Milo: Yeah, I mean you know, theatre is an extremely practical work. It's a collective work. You have to, actually you kind of live together. For weeks and for months. And that's how a play is constructed. It's not that somebody is an idea or a text. You can do theatre like this, but I don't, and it's something that's developing. And even, I mean I have to perhaps add a little pessimistic moment to it. It was very difficult and for me, even a bit disappointing to do the speech together with Kay Sara like this. That you send something, somebody sends back. It takes six hours, it takes eight hours. Then you find the chat, you can talk for three minutes, it's over. You don't reach each other anymore. There are misunderstandings, but what I found out, and it was quite interesting, by sending these texts to Amazonia and back to here and check it together, there were big misunderstandings. We weren't understanding each other and then we started by listening, to trying to understand, to make an interpretation. Perhaps it was just like lost in translation. And this was a very interesting process by being disconnected. So that's for me, one interesting point but it's a small thing. The other thing is that, it's the first time I meet Tania, now.
Tania: It’s true.
Milo: In life, but we kind of reflected a lot. One on the work of the other, and etc. And even, I mean the speech was called Against Integration. Tania was preparing a school of integration. So, we were on the same topics but we never met because actually this kind of possibility to be connected like this, to have a "School of Resistance" a debate like this, was even not for me. I didn't do it. I just like, ah I can't go to Vienna, I can't go there so we will not meet. So I just didn't do it. And then we were planning to do the "School of Resistance" like next year, we're flying in a lot of people and we found out it's faster, it's more simple, it's more convenient, and it's kind of more, I don't know. There's more outcome if we do it like this. So this is a kind of a--
Lara: Ecological, Milo, is quite important here. I guess you should have named as the first one. It's more ecological.
Milo: And it's more, of course, it's much more. Yeah, it's ecological, of course.
Milo: The problem today is that, a theatre an art of presence. So one time we have to meet again, me and Kay Sara, or there will be no "Antigone in the Amazon." And she has to be on stage, and we have to be in the same space somehow, you know.
Tania: I think, no, I am very, it's very. It kind of goes well with my plans because I was super tired of traveling and I actually had to decide to not travel after this festival in Vienna for six months because I was really, I think it was not healthy for me. This one day here, one day there. What are you giving people? Or what is the quality of the energy you're giving to people, no? But at the same time I think this is a very good device, it helps a lot and more people can be, nowadays many people can see what is happening, it's fantastic. But I have to say that when I have been in events the moments that are more productive for me is when you may be sitting down, you, Milo, me, you, and having a beer. Where there is no pressure to be smart, precise, or nice, or whatever. And all of a sudden you start saying whatever and something amazing comes up. We have to see how can we do that in this format as well. Because this format is really effective, it's really good at many levels, it's ecological, it's more healthy for people to be in their house. But it would be nice to create a way in which we can be loose and this kind of accidents, or joyness happens between people. Because every time I have one of these, it's very, you know it's like a meeting, you know?
Lara: No, and I think this connects again to this idea of slowing down in a sense of creating conditions in which something can happen that we couldn't predict yet. Whereas here I think we're all performing right now and we want to be to the point. And we know we have listeners, etc. Whereas sometimes, maybe the new ideas, or the alternative, or what hasn't been articulated yet can only come from a slower way of being together. And I guess one of my big questions is how this slowing down can be strong enough against a system that doesn't slow down, on the contrary. I'm a bit conflicted because there's a question from the audience that is very interesting but quite specific. We were still talking about ethics and aesthetics and I wanted to make a bridge to Schlingensief, and also this question about why Kay Sara's not part of this discussion stayed a bit with me. And I wonder maybe also for listeners. So I wonder maybe, if we start with that? I mean, there's a clear demand of Kay Sara and her speech to stop talking and listen. She really asks us to listen. And still we're here talking. And I guess you're both also seen as very important political artists of these times. You get a lot of invitations. Tania was sharing how much she's struggling. I know a bit how much you're traveling, Milo as well. How are you, and maybe this also connects a little bit to the question that is asked and that I will share with you in a bit, how are using this power or these platforms to speak in order for actually to listen in a way? Or maybe, amplify voices of other people?
Milo: Yeah, I mean it would be interesting perhaps although a bit kind of a parallel experience of Tania and me is that as a director, of course you are somebody, as a theatre director especially, you are somebody that constructs platforms where things can happen and stories are told. And for example, I never wrote a book about myself because I am talking through others, through projects, you know. And through symbolic rooms, institutions, that can be plays, can be an adaptation, can be a tribunal act, it can be part of a Bible film, can be this kind of "School of Resistance." Because this is the first, let's say chapter, opening of Wiener Festwochen at the same time. In the later sessions I will not be present. Perhaps I will host one of the sessions or even not. Because I think it's important to invite, of course, perspectives that are not present all the time in these kind of discussions. And I think everybody who is connected here more or less knows what I am saying normally. So, I think this is one role. Of course we have to be kind of a loud speaker, or somebody who can construct platforms, especially in that time. Because when I read this, you should shut up, and you should listen. And at the same time I had really Slavoj Zizek's book in my hand. I was thinking of, I mean we are talking all the time, explaining all the time. And it's too much. It's too much. It's time to wait and to see what happens, and try to connect. And I think for me, that's now the thing to do to connect knowledge. To connect ways of practice. To find spaces where you can do this. Because the problem of theatre is that, I don't know, we call a collective when people that knew each other in school, in art school are doing then plays together. We call this a collective. But it's not a collective. It's just a repetition of the same minua, you know. And I think we have to find places where we bring people together that would never think together. And then there is more than listening and talking, there is a dialogue. And out of this dialogue comes something that nobody knew before. And this is my dream of the art of now and the future.
Tania: That’s very cool. Well I think in my case, the way I do it is I am very aware of power dynamics sometimes when they exist and I try, what I'm trying to do with my work is opening spaces. You know, like you two. You know, like going to a place, trying to open spaces, pushing boundaries. Meaning that I would take the risk. And then as soon as these boundaries have been pushed and the spaces opened, then I invite others to come. Because I think in my case I worked with immigrants, or with vulnerable populations, or with activists maybe in Cuba who are not so well known. And I think it's important that people like us who have some power or some visibility take the risk. You know, the personal risk, the human risk, the body risk, all the risk, political risk. But not because we are the one talking for others. It's because we are the ones who, even if we lost power, if we lost privilege, we still have some. So we can actually give it away in order for things to happen. But as soon as we have that, we need to withdraw. That's what I do. As soon as this over I withdraw and let other people go in. Because I think that what we can do as political artists is not only do public reflections, I don't know instigate people to protest or whatever with our work. But also to create, as you say, a platform where other people can stand up. And not because of you, just because of them. They have the need and the right to have it. So I think in this case for me, that's why I work so much with institutions that I create because it's a framework people understand. You know, when you work with an institution that you create, even if it's fake, or it's temporary, people understand that it's a platform, you know.
Lara: For example, the Immigrant Movement International that you started.
Lara: I don't know if that, for everyone, that's a known project.
Tania: Now in Cuba, for example I have the Institute of Art and Activism right now which is called, the small name is INSTAR which is the verb in Spanish that means to invite people, to push people to do something. So this is something that we are creating here that has been amazing. And it's opening up, you know. And also the thing is, for us we can try and fail. Other people do not have the privilege to fail. So they need spaces where they can fail together and it's fine, you know.
Lara: Maybe to go quickly to a question because I have a series of questions I want to continue. But maybe to give the floor to someone from the audience, someone who's following us. So, someone would like to know a little bit more, Tania, about your statement that laws should protect everyone instead of a small group.
Tania: Can you say that again? What statement?
Lara: Your statement that laws should protect everyone instead of a specific group. And she agrees that laws are there to prevent injustice but she wonders what you do with laws that are precisely there actually to protect minorities?
Tania: Mm-hm, what do we do with those laws that protect minorities?
Lara: I mean, yeah of course we don't have the person here but this is what I presume, like are you feeling those laws are not there, or they're not for, like how are we?
Tania: There are not enough. There are not enough of those laws. But the other thing is we have to understand that the law is always coming after the fact. So laws are always , you know, they come after the dilemma has been solved by society, when, that's mostly, no. Where everybody has agreed on something. And I feel that the law should be used in other ways. In the way to educate people. Instead of the law to repress and to force you to be morally some way. Because for me the problem with the law is many time it relates to morals, instead of ethics. You know, and then I feel like it would be better if we started doing laws that prevent things. That educate with the existing of the law. Instead of punishing you because already everybody agree that this is wrong or right, you know. And this is a big dilemma. The non synchronicity of the law with reality.
Lara: Interesting, you're almost proposing like a priori, like laws that have been developed before the damage is done in a way.
Tania: There is a system that I use for my work, useful art, which is, and a lot of my friends we deal with this, the activists. In Spanish it's called alegal. in English you don't have it. Alegal is a concept of the law.
Tania: You have it? You have it in German?
Milo: No, no, no. But I imagine it's kind of parallel to the law. It's kind of.
Tania: Yeah, so precisely. Alegal is when you behave in a way that the law has not yet codified. So it's not illegal because the law did not have this image, social image. But you are doing it. So it is, I love it because it's beyond the law. So it's something that you feel is right, it's not illegal because they haven't considered this yet, to regulate this yet, but you feel it's the right ethical way to behave. So I think that's a way that I answer to this because the laws are very slow. They, unfortunately I listened that in the United States, I don't know in Europe, you pay to have your laws. Which I think is immoral and horrible. The people who have the money and the lobby people is the one who get the laws. It has nothing to do with justice, or with ethics, or with a sense of an image of who we are as a society. So I think, let's start doing actions. Asking as we think, yeah.
Lara: Exactly, so it's again existing laws are more protecting the system, the system that benefits the few and not everyone. And I think you both are working a lot with several institutions. Milo, you made several viral projects where you were also in a way, pre-enacting trials that are not happening in reality yet, but should. And can already happen through art and then maybe in that way, let's say go over reality.
Milo: You know—
Tania: I think—
Milo: Yeah please.
Tania: I’m sorry, what? Let me say, I think it's important to do things and not illegal because when you do something illegal you give all the power to that law, and to that government. So I think this is why creativity, yeah.
Milo: This is absolutely the point. Especially when you work, I guess Tania in Cuba but also when you work in Amazonia, when you work for example the Landless Movement. The occupation they do are completely not illegal. The monocultures are illegal. All the land is divided illegally against the Constitution of Brazil. And we have, of course the, for example the law and the constitution, the article that you can occupy land if this land is illegally in the hands of somebody. We have in the German Constitution, we in the Netherland Constitution. And that's why when we, for me it's kind of. There is this quote when we did the Jesus film last year. When Jesus says, I didn't come to abolish the law, I came to fulfill it. Because for example, it's impossible for migrants to be illegal. It's not possible in the Constitution, in the European Constitution. And I'm even not talking about the human rights, because this is perhaps only bourgeois morality but I'm talking about the constitution of every nation and the whole European Union and it's not possible that somebody enters Europe and is illegal. This is an invention, it's criminal to—
Tania: All of these are inventions.
Milo: These are all inventions that are against the constitutions and so the move we do normally with our so-called symbolic, crazy utopian institutions, we just try to use the laws. We all agree it's in our constitution, so.
Tania: Exactly. Absolutely.
Lara: Yes, that's kind of sad also, in a way that we like to attribute utopian thinking to us, but in a way we're just following, I mean, agreements that has made, treaties that have been made years and years ago. That we seem not to be able to follow. There's another question or two questions here. The first one, I'm not sure I completely, so let's try to figure it out together. So someone says that she wonders what Tania and Milo said is to overcome learned helplessness that man has learned under the systematic control until now.
Milo: Yeah, yeah.
Lara:I’m not entirely sure what this question.
Milo: I agree.
Tania: I agree, yeah.
Milo: I would do a very fast interpretation of it because I think this is really, this is for me crucial. That you live in a system and you have the impression it has to go like this. And it's kind of the structure and it works like this. That's how I was educated and that's why it's important what Tania says. We need another education where you understand that what you live is by historical accident normalized. And you are not completely helpless. Everything, every institution that we are living in at moment was established as the outcome of a political or social struggle.
[Tania drops her phone.]
Milo: By political or social struggle. And that's for me why I thought perhaps, and we could also talk about let's say the method or that framework of integration. Because of course, normalization tries to integrate everything, that there is no illegality, that there is no space outside. Everything took into the structure is normalized.
Tania: I’m going to say—
Milo: Yeah? No, go for it.
Milo: Because the strange thing is that when you are in this big helpless dream of capitalism you understand that for example, the slaves, they don't want to abolish slavery. They want to become masters, you know. It's a kind of, from all perspectives you have this helplessness. And that's the big problem, and I think the big chance when for one moment it stops and you see, ah we can just say we don't continue. Ah, okay, it's possible.
Tania: I think, I'm glad that you talk about this because when I put the title, a School of Integration, it was ironic. But I remind, when they told me that you were doing this, the "School of Resistance" and the other project about non-integration and stuff like that, I loved it. Because you were criticizing my project in a way and I loved that because you reminded me that sometime in politics you can’t be ironic, you know.
Lara: You can, or you can't?
Tania: You cannot be ironic.
Milo: No, no, it's tempting.
Tania: Then you get lost in the irony, you know. Because irony is very easy to manipulate. By people who don't want to do the stuff, you know. So I think it's, I actually thank you for that.
Lara: Maybe just to contextualize.
Tania: Because you were, you make me, yeah.
Lara: Perfect, maybe just to contextualize for some people. So Tania you were going to start a School for Integration which would be more than 60 classes mediated and taught by migrant communities in Vienna. This would have been part of the Wiener Festwochen. And the speech that--
Tania: They were classes by the immigrants to the Viennese, to the locals.
Lara: Right, that's important.
Tania: To learn about other places, you know.
Tania: But it's interesting because in the discussion with the activists that were working in collaboration for this project, we had many meetings because they didn't like integration, also. So.
Lara: Maybe before you--
Tania: Point taken.
Lara: And Milo's speech or text that he wrote together with Kay Sara was actually under the title, Against Integration, which is also the title for the next season of NTGent.
Lara: So in a way, we have interesting opposite here of Against Integration, School for Integration. Why were the people not happy with this integration terminology, Tania?
Tania: Because the same reason you're talking about. Because the same reasons Milo is giving. Because they were, there is a, it's a problematic concept. It's a very problematic concept, because also integration is usually seen as the person who arrives lose his own identity to become part of what is there, you know. So I think there is this forced erasure, culture erasure, that is quiet brutal, to be honest. And not natural, you know. So I think they were against that, very much so.
Lara: So if you would do both?
Tania: So I can't go back to them now.
Lara: I mean, what is interesting of course is that you shifted it around. So it's the School of Integration for the Viennese people that's supposed to be integrated already. So interestingly enough.
Tania: No, they're supposed to be integrated with the people who arrived. Because the problem is, yes, it's okay to learn German, okay that's fine. But also they should learn Swahili as well. The Viennese should learn Swahili, you know, or Arabic, or whatever.
Lara: Maybe integration would not be such a problem if this would be equal. But it's always a force in opposition to a dominant culture.
Tania: No, and also the fact that for me there is a problem everywhere I've been with the perception of immigrants. Immigrants are always welcome as long as they entertain or they serve. Or they dance, make music, or they're happy, you know party. Or they're cooking for you, they are sewing your clothes. So that's the problem.
Milo: Yeah, this kind of multicultural concept, you know, yeah. Everybody's dancing, yeah.
Tania: Yeah, and also it seems like it's still a kind of a slave dynamic where you are serving me. And what about all the knowledge these people come with? I always say that we create a factory of garbage knowledge, because all these people come with amazing knowledge. And you know this very well, Milo, because you've been traveling and talking to all these people. Have an amazing political education, amazing emotional education, and all of this is erased because they're only here to serve us, no. To do the job you don't want, or the, you know? Or entertain you, you know?
Lara: I think that saying we're in a crisis now in way feels all the time problematic also to me because I have constantly this feeling like, we were already in a crisis, but we just called it normality. Which was maybe the real crisis. And the question, and I'm thinking about this because I think in the case of migrants this huge, huge fundamental inequality becomes very clear. There is a response from the audience and a question where someone would like to hear your thoughts as Kay Sara is talking about resistance and about the ten years that are left before the planet's lungs die. Shouldn't we not be in the streets instead of the theatre? Which connects a little bit to another question about art, let's say post COVID art. I mean, what can art be or mean in a world, a post COVID-19 world, or maybe a world where pandemics will stay. What is the role of art? I mean, you've been already talking a little bit about this, ethics, aesthetics. But maybe this specific remark about, should we not be in the streets?
Tania: I think we should have as many different kind of art as possible. I am always against any kind of generalization about things and this kind of fake satisfaction that because everything looks alike, you think it's okay. I think we need to have, we were having a crisis before the COVID with emotions. Because emotions were being reduced to very generic category. Like, don't like, angry, happy, this of course because Facebook, of course Trump, all of these were. Emotion has been reduced into a kind of monolithic, and I think art can be a place where people can find the complexity of emotions and the complexity of situations. And not everybody recepts emotionally the same way. So why we want to have on the street, or in the theatre, it should be everything and as much as possible but the most important is to make sure we also take care of artists. We pay them, we pay them, we treat them respectfully, you know. But I don't know what you.
Lara: I mean just a thought Milo, before you, sorry just to add maybe in relation to the last thing Tania is saying. Of course we have, at least in Europe, this huge bunch of articles saying, you know, all these institutions are broke and are having a problem and they won't be able to exist. So people are really pleading for more protections for artists, and on the other hand you could maybe ask yourself like, is it artists we should save right now? Like, is this what it is about? Milo, could you?
Milo: I just would like to really focus on the question. Because she's saying how are you dealing with the fact that this planet is dead in 10 years. So, how is the reaction you have on that? And it seems, and I see that we continue talking and that's fine. But I see that we are kind of, it's kind of impossible to react to this. So what should art do? Or perhaps, I don't know. What should all representative systems do? They should, they think that in a strange way, imaginary, externalized somewhere in Amazonia but everything's connected. But it's somewhere else in the future that we can't touch, but it's only 10 years. I think the work of art is to bring this in, to make it visible, to kind of educate us, to deal with it, to only feel it, you know. And I think to really understand. We are not in a dramatic situation where we can kind of change a bit, the institution and give perhaps this or that to the artists. Or I don't know what. We are in a tragic institution. We have to take some decisions. We have to bring the machine down. How can we as artists, intellectuals, creators, whatever. I mean, that's our field. I'm not a real political activist. I'm behaving sometimes, or I'm giving a platform, but I'm somebody who can connect and who can represent and that's what I know to do. And for me the big work of the next 10 years and of tomorrow, and of now, and perhaps even of this "School of Resistance" is to make it real.
Tania: Exactly, yeah.
Milo: To make the things real and connect what we know and what we do. Because she's saying, and the most horrible of Creon listening to him is he knows that he's going directly to the apocalypse and he hates himself for that. But he just continues, you know. And to change, that's for me the meaning of even a discussion like this one.
Lara: But of course, you're both very much referring still to knowing. We have to know, we have to make this knowledge visible, it has to be effective so it has to touch us, emotional. And on the same time Kay Sara says, but actually you all know. You know already. The horrible thing is you don't, you're used to knowing.
Milo: How is, I mean this is for me the tragic moment. How is knowledge linked to action? For example, when you read "King Oedipus," so let's say the most classical of all tragedies, the strange thing is that from the beginning on, King Oedipus knows he killed his father, and he fucked his mother. And everybody tells him that he's deeply perverse. His normality is perverse and he knows it because in the first scene the choir tells him, and then garden arrives and tells again. But he's just not able to connect to this knowledge, you know. And that's the whole tragic plays are just about this impossibility of connecting and I have to say that for me moments in theatre, they are called cathartic, they are called, I don't know. You can have different terms, but how do you connect emotionally and then in action to what you know? That's all what it is about. For me, that's all what it is about. Knowing is nothing, doing is nothing, connecting is the thing.
Tania: No, I also think it's about creating art that understand the consequences, and deal with the consequences, you know. Art where you, the consequences are not something you haven't thought of, but it's part of the process of creating the work. You know what I mean? That you have responsibility over the consequences. And in that sense, it is about, I always talk about or art that is useful, that is a tool. Because I almost feel, and I agree with Milo, I almost feel that now art has shown people this importance, you know over this time of isolation, etc. And it's important as a tool. So I also think, I also see art in the future as a tool. So it is done by more people but also as a tool, you know. Like it's something that will help people to overcome fear, to overcome the misunderstanding between each other, yeah.
Lara: On the same time, a quick, there is this thing that you were speaking about Tania, as if time is also, let's say not congruent, or how are you saying this? That you have the feeling that you can know something but before the system also starts to act upon this, you said life is too short and change goes too slow in way. And I think this is also something I can very much relate to, and it's very, I mean this is this feeling of helplessness, right? That one of the questions was. That we have the feeling that, I mean 10 years, the green lungs you know. So I mean, we know the climate catastrophe is already there, it's not something abstract. It's already happening. People are suffering, people are fleeing because of this. And still we don't see the system responding. So how do we make this frustration productive? I guess is also a question. Do you want to still respond on this, or? Because we have been touching upon this, of course. Or else I go to another question because we also slowly have to round up.
Tania: Okay, no just very quickly. It's about interest. The problem is we have been living, up to now, in a world where interest trumps everything else. Trumps reality, trumps justice, trumps the truth, you know? So I think we need to change that.
Milo: Yeah, that is so true what you say, wow. Yeah, that's so true. I can't, yeah that could be a last sentence. But you had one question more?
Lara: It feels now a little bit stupid, but it was still hanging in the air and also because this would have been one of the topics of the conversation at the Vienna Festwochen. So, Schlingensief heritage and his "Please Love Austria" that actually your work, School of Integration was also using this title. Please Love Austria School of Integration, Tania. And I wonder like 20 years ago, looking back at this work and it's maybe important to give, to contextualize a little bit for people that don't know. So, Schlingensief placed a container on the square in Vienna where he placed 12 asylum seekers and he played a bit with his big brother genre that was then very popular and upcoming. Where people in Austria could vote for the one they didn't like and then I think two people per day, and this lasted a week and they were filmed 24/7 and two people per day had to leave which meant were deported back to their country. And the one that would win would get a financial prize and the possibility of Austrian citizenship by marrying someone. I think it's interesting also in relation to ethics, aesthetics. Like, how do you position yourself to work like this? I think this work has been often framed as one of the most political works with a lot of impact because of the reactions and the fact that it became a political discussion on the square by bystanders. How are you feeling about the choices in this work?
Tania: Well, now—
Tania: Okay, sorry.
Milo: No, no, please Tania. I don't have so much to say about it, so it's.
Tania: No, no, you go, you go.
Milo: No please, please, please really.
Tania: Okay, no I think now he looks like a visionary but I heard he was a pain in the ass. So I think we should be more pain in the asses, as artists. And less complacent, in a way. But I feel, I really like his work a lot. I knew about it since 2005, five, six. And I actually dedicate his work, the piece I did here in 2014 in the Revolution Square to him. Because I was using the same methodology. And one of the things I feel are still very current in his, what I understand about his work, I might be wrong, I'm not an expert. Is the tension between reality and the construction of an image, or a metaphor and I like very much, especially in that piece, that you think it's true, you know. The fact that you feel this is really happening to somebody is actually opening up the honesty of the reaction to people. Because you know in theatre, but also visual arts, people have a codified way to behave. You know, you have to applaud, you have to like it. And this completely broke all the agreements you have with the audiences, you know. And the audience transformed into citizens. They're not audiences anymore, they're just citizens. They're individual people. And I think that is absolutely fascinating. Putting this ethical dilemma, and at the same time when you see the documentary you see how much he was struggling for this to take energy. And how much he actually provoked people because it is true when you see the anxiety and the agony of the artist, because also people don't care, you know. That piece also shows that you have to really be extremely intense for people to care. In a way.
Lara: Thanks, Milo?
Milo: Yeah, very short. I think what for me is very interesting that piece that became a classic. You would even say you learn it at art school. You watch once, the container show, etc. Of course you see how the machine starts in the beginning, how everybody thinks nothing will happen then the media, etc, etc. But for me the interesting thing is, and that's for me performance or theatre is that you representing is not interesting. A machine can represent. What is interesting is that the representation itself becomes real, you know. Of course everybody knows it's just made up and these are not real refugees, and they will not be deported, and they will not marry an Austrian woman, etc, etc. But it becomes real in the reaction and in the kind of take in responsibility of even the country itself, the media, as if they would understand. But this is a real situation. We have to say no, no, no it's not our etc, etc. And then as you describe it from moral you go into ethics, and from kind of representing something and making fun and irony. It's a very post modern approach, you know. So you go somewhere else. And that's what is very different from Schlingensief to other post modern artists. Because they kind of stayed in this ironic moment. I like it, to start it up with irony over identification, big brother, etc, etc. All the media cliches, you know. But he went somewhere completely else, like a public ritual of responsibility. And this is great, this is Greek theatre somehow, you know.
Tania: Exactly, I was going to say that! It's Greek theatre, yeah, yeah.
Lara: It’s an interesting response because I would have thought you would have been a bit more critical, maybe. Although there is something in what you say now, Milo, where you end, because if you were saying Tania that it's about acting upon a world as you would wish the world to be, or you feel this would be more a just world than in a way his approach is much more cynical, no.
Tania: Yeah, but at the same time before you go there you have to show people how double moral they are. And how hypocritical they are, and how fucked up they are. So before you construct you have to deconstruct, no? I'm guessing.
Tania: You have to destroy before you can build.
Lara: We have to be these pain in the asses, so that's what you're saying.
Tania: Yes. And I think art should be more real. And that's what he has, as Milo was saying, that the piece is real. The emotions were real, you know.
Milo: The problem is that reality is not real. I mean, I didn't see people dying from Corona, I didn't see them in the streets. I didn't see the Amazon burning. I didn't see, you know. This is all happening, but it's not real. So this is the work of art, not only of art of course, but for me as an artist to translate it into reality.
Lara: Thank you, that's beautiful. It's interesting to hear two people that are also so much, let's say criticizing power that also I guess understand the machinery, how power also operates. And because in the end, what is real? I mean power is, I guess, being able to decide what's real. And so maybe it's also about what kind of power we can use in order for, let's say, our art projects to become more real than reality or what we have been deciding to look at as reality. Thank you so much. Tania Bruguera, Milo Rau it was a great pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this weird and strange and hopeful and pessimistic time on the same time. Let's stay in contact and try to really change this world and be the pain in the asses, as Tania said. Just a technical, in two weeks the "School of Resistance" will be back with Vandana Shiva and Vanessa Nakate talking about the post COVID or with COVID-19 world from an environmentalist point of view. Thank you so much again.
Tania: Thank you so much.
Milo: Thank you.
Lara: Take care and be healthy.
Tania: It’s a pleasure meeting you guys.
Milo: Ciao, bye.
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