After Schuldfabrik and Mount Average - the earlier installative work - and the equally confrontational, widely acclaimed All Inclusive, Julian will be back on stage at CAMPO on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Together with South African-Swiss performer Ntando Cele, he created a performance about empathy and extractivism that explores how closely racism is linked to capitalism.
Ntando and Julian have known each other for 13 years. "We first met in 2010 at DAS in Amsterdam as students, when I was still playing in a band and Ntando was doing spoken word and poetry with which she also performed”, Julian says. Music brought them together artistically when Ntando got to contribute live in Julian's band. "Ntando could rap well and I really liked that, I really wanted to work with her. Ntando combined art, humour and satire in a way that I really appreciated. We once played together at SPRING festival’s closing party in Utrecht. That was something weird and crazy with arty techno and glitter masks."
"What if empathy does not eliminate or change existing power structures and privileges, but is a tool that reinforces them?" the promotional text also reads. Ntando: "For me, SPAfrica is also about looking at how to create a collaboration that is engaging, interesting and exciting to be in, a performance that has few limitations. As few limitations as possible actually."
Julian: "Actually, we are exploring a lot of 'isms'. And also: what are our resources? What do we work from? For this performance, we started from a larger, zoomed-out perspective: it's about the world, capitalism, racism, Europe, post-colonialism, Africa, all the big ideas, ... At some point, the story got closer and closer and also became a personal story. So it also became a work that reflects on our own personal practice. It shows dilemmas we find ourselves in from different perspectives, for instance about identity, guilt, trauma, empathy, emotions, fears, pain, ..."
Finally, we wonder if there will be room in the show for something other than the serious themes? "We both like a certain kind of humour. The topics we deal with are often deadly serious and it seems like there is no room for humour, but humour does help me to take myself less seriously, to be a bit more playful and because it facilitates the process." Julian: "There is something very liberating about humour.We also deconstruct ourselves through humour. We make fun of our own world.It's painful and fun at the same time not to take yourself too seriously. Humour is sometimes the key and I hope the audience understands that too, that there is humour in the work and that it is necessary to bring some levity."
The makers are well aware that the line with cynicism is thin. "To put it in another words; cynicism and satire are sometimes mixed up. Cynicism, like nihilism, can sometimes be very dark, satire aims to fight for something. Parts of the show are satirical, other parts are more honest and honest art. Think of SPAfrica as a matryoshka: you know, one of those a hollow wooden doll from which you can take out smaller dolls all the time."