The Festival Kunstfest Weimar 2024

What we are fighting for

‘Wofür wir kämpfen’ – ‘What We are Fighting For’ – is not only the slogan of Kunstfest 2024, it is also the title of the series of discussions with distinguished speakers curated by Volkhard Knigge. This project explicitly aims to reflect on what it means to combat the ghosts of the past. It shares this objective with a small travelling ex- hibition that will tour Germany after Kunstfest: ‘The Other Russia’ shines a light on the history and activism of MEMORIAL in campaigning for a democratic Russia based on historical truth rather than propaganda, hate and lies. Why the opening of this exhibition should be followed by the Buchenwald Memorial Concert with the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, now based in German ex- ile, under the direction of the young conductor Oxana Lyniv, now acclaimed around the world, is self-evident when one looks the situation in the East of Europe.

However, Kunstfest also needs an opening. To launch proceedings, the inclusive dance company from Leipzig Forward Dance – which has achieved international fame within a few short years – will choreographically deconstruct the popular central work of the composer Carl Orff, a controversial figure due to his political attitudes towards the Nazi regime. This dance to a electro-acoustic reworking and fragementation of ‘Carmina Burana’ will create a surprising, irritating but also celebratory opening to the festival in the Theaterplatz. And opening the largest contemporary arts festival in East Germany with this particular exciting and innovative young dance company can also be understood as a clear statement. As if that were not symbolic enough, Kunstfest’s theatre programme also begins the same evening with a very special theatrical debutant. For the first time, the writer and intellectual Navid Kermani has co-created a theatre project along with the two performers, acting legend Eva Mattes and Roberto Ciulli. Now 90 years young, the director and actor really is one of the most impressive personalities in the entire cosmos of European theatre. This remarkable combination will produce a very special evening that tentatively attempts to let the world’s fractured pieces shine once again.

There would be no point in this year’s Kunstfest slogan if it did not apply consistently throughout the festival: another is the artistic-discursive weekend that Kunstfest presents along with the Fonds Darstellende Künste and the Goethe-Institut on 24 and 25 August. That Sunday, Schorsch Kamerun’s musical and par- ticipatory dialogue performance ‘Bevor wir kippen’ (Before We Keel Over) begins, which will discuss or review “unnecessary forms of expres- sion” every day (except Mondays) until the end of the festival – and include a musical evening with Thuringia’s Hollywood star Sandra Hüller and comedian René Marik the night before the election to the State Parliament.

Our core visual arts and music theatre projects can also be seen in this context: one is the new interpretation of the installation from the European Capital of Culture year ‘Concert for Buchenwald’ under the title ‘Concertare Forte’, initiated by Jenny Brockmann and other master pupils of the great Rebecca Horn. The other is Novoflot ́s music theatre world premiere ‘Ein Ermordeter aus Warschau’ based on texts by star author Max Czollek.

The centrepiece of the festival, and a continuum running independently through it, is our six-part focus on Taiwan. This has been made possible by an extremely generous funding award from the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture and the Taipeh Representative Office in Berlin, plus a number of other active funding bodies. These projects bring our collaboration with Tai- wanese artists, which has been ongoing almost continuously since 2019, to a high point. For the first time it will be possible for the audience in Weimar to gain an overview of what is regard- ed as one of the leading choreographic and performance scenes in the world. Its icon is, of course, the legendary Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, which comes to Weimar with the German premiere of ‘Sounding Light’, which not only examines the relationship between human beings and nature, but also is also a reminder of the need to preserve our natural livelihoods. The six works not only demonstrate the richness and both technical and artistic advancement of the Taiwanese scene, but also its level of political awareness. In selecting the programme we have also considered exemplary Taiwanese-German collaborations. So allow yourselves to be won over and join us in a voyage of discovery through YOUR Kunstfest Weimar.

Rolf C. Hemke, April 2024