David Weber-Krebs & Maximilian Haas
Amsterdam, Brussels, Hamburg, Berlin
Balthazar was a long-term artistic research project by David Weber-Krebs (director) and myself (dramaturgy/theory) which looks at animals and their position in western culture. It took shape in four productions featuring different casts of performers in different cities (Amsterdam, Hamburg, Brussels, and Berlin), each focussing on different artistic means in the spectrum between performance art, dance, and theatre. Balthazar is also the fictional name of the protagonist of each of these productions, a non-trained donkey. The animal is put next to a group of human performers who seek to engage him or her in theatrical action. The donkey is at the very centre of the action, and the pieces affirm the uncertainties that such a decision brings with it. Based on a dramaturgical structure, the Balthazar performances unfold in the interaction between the species. The project was inspired by Robert Bresson’s film Au hazard Balthazar (1966).
The four performances were partly produced in cooperation with theater and dance universities as artistic seminars and had different conceptual focuses derived from the works of three philosophers that shaped the contemporary discourse around animals and animality most prominently: Gilles Deleuze, Donna Haraway, and Jacques Derrida. In direct confrontation with their living object, their notions of the animal were artistically tested and criticized. In addition to the productions and seminars, the project resulted in joint lectures, numerous essays in academic and non-academic journals, and my practice-based dissertation published under the title Tiere auf der Bühne: Eine ästhetische Ökologie der Performance (Animals on Stage: An Aesthetic Ecology of Performance) published by Kulturverlag Kadmos (2018).
Short account of the project
published in Antennae–The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture,
special issue on Multispecies Intra-actions, ed. by Giovanni Aloi (spring 2015)
Julien Bruneau, Alondra Castellanos Arreola, Philipp Enders, Sid van Oerle, Noha Ramadan
von Marlen Frieß
(Goethe Universität Frankfurt)
mit Maximilian Haas