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Programme presentation: Ruhrtriennale explores what it is to be alive in this in-between time

Press release   •   Apr 24, 2018 11:00 BST

Lost and Proud***Breaking ground!***All change!***In-between time***All change?***

First season under Artistic Director Stefanie Carp starts on 9th August

The radical social changes and emergent social phenomena of the present time provide the focus for the first Ruhrtriennale under the artistic directorship of Stefanie Carp. The new Artistic Director for the years 2018 to 2020 presented the programme for the 2018 season at PACT Zollverein in Essen together with the artiste associé Christoph Marthaler. 33 productions and projects, including 20 original and co-productions and 16 world premieres, new productions, German premieres and installations will be presented on former industrial sites and in other locations in the Ruhr region between 9th August and 23rd September. Highlights of the opening week include a new creation by the South African director William Kentridge, the inauguration of a sculpture by the American artist Olu Oguibe and the world premiere of the music theatre creation ‘Universe, Incomplete’, directed by Christoph Marthaler using the entire Jahrhunderthalle Bochum.

Tickets go on sale for the Ruhrtriennale 2018 on Monday, 30th April at 9 am.

Stefanie Carp: “Never have we had such a strong feeling that every aspect of our lives will change in such a short time. We find ourselves in an in-between time. People in flight, driven from their homes and migrating, travel across our continents. They are excluded and their lives are hindered by everlasting bureaucratic processes. Economic wars of unimaginable cruelty destroy entire societies and cultures. At least by now everyone has understood that demands for involvement, for equality and freedom are no longer a matter of political taste but of the survival of civilization.”

Epitomizing this in-between time is the Ruhrtriennale’s new festival centre: an aeroplane that the group of artists and architects raumlaborberlin has designed for the square in front of the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. It is impossible to tell whether the plane has crashed or is still under construction. What is clear, however, is that this spectacular venue entitled ‘Third Space’ can be repeatedly reconfigured and extended over the next three years with the help of members of the audience. “This in-between time is our chance to help creatively shape changes to all social and cultural relations instead of perpetuating them out of fear and defensiveness,” says Stefanie Carp.

The Ruhrtriennale 2018 will open on 9th August at the Kraftzentrale Duisburg with the production ‘The Head and the Load’ by William Kentridge. In this creation combining music theatre, dance and the visual arts, the South African director examines the role of Africa in the First World War. Between 1914 and 1918 more than two million people from the continent of Africa were forced by the colonial powers to go to war on their behalf. Kentridge devotes his scenic and installation work – making its German premiere at the Ruhrtriennale – to this under-researched chapter of African and European history.

Before the premiere of ‘The Head and the Load’ the Indian nuclear physicist and activist Vandana Shiva will hold the opening address for this year’s festival in the Gebläsehalle Duisburg. Entitled ‘Earth Democracy Now’, the winner of the alternative Nobel Prize will talk about her vision for global society in the 21st century.

Christoph Marthaler’s central production as artiste associé for the Ruhrtriennale 2018 is the music theatre creation ‘Universe, Incomplete’, that will receive its world premiereon 17th August at the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. Based on the unfinished ‘Universe Symphony’ by the American composer Charles Ives (1875 – 1954) the director Marthaler will develop a scenic-musical space together with conductor Titus Engel and stage designer Anna Viebrock in which the audience will be invited to look back on our present life from a distant future. The ensemble for this sonic event comprises dancers and actors as well as some 115 musicians including the orchestra of the Bochumer Symphoniker.

“Universe, Incomplete” is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Another production in the field of music theatre is Hans Werner Henze’s ‘Das Floß der Medusa’ (Raft of the Medusa).The oratorio was written in 1968 as a metaphor for the Third World’s oppression at the hands of the rich and powerful and now it seems almost prophetic. The Hungarian film and music theatre director Kornél Mundruczó will present the work whose world premiere took place amid riots 50 years ago as a staged concert at the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. Its musical framework will be created by the proven Henze expert Steven Sloane, who conducts the Bochumer Symphoniker along with Chorwerk Ruhr and the Zürcher Sing-Akademie.

***in-between time***MUSIC***in-between time***MUSIC***in-between time***MUSIC***

Our position in between time is also reflected in the Ruhrtriennale 2018’s music programme, curated by Matthias Osterwold. In a series of strongly audio-visual concerts ‘MaschinenHausMusik’ focuses on musicians whose roots do not lie primarily in Europe but also in regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, parts of which are the scene of the severest political and social upheaval. Guests at the Maschinenhaus Essen include: Hezarfen Ensemble, Mazen Kerbaj and Sharif Sehnaoui, Ensemble Garage and Electric Indigo, Hassan Khan and Tarek Atoui plus the Monochrome Project.

Other musical events at this year’s festival include concerts by the American musician and artist Laurie Anderson (at the Lichtburg Essen) and the Ensemble Modern, who dedicate a portrait concert at the Salzlager at Kokerei Zollverein to the British composer Rebecca Saunders. American multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp will also present a spatial hybrid form of opera and installation at the Turbinenhalle Bochum with ‘Filiseti Mekidesi’, which re-connects back to the visionary fragment of Charles Ives’ ‘Universal Symphony’.

Also at the Turbinenhalle Bochum Scottish band Young Fathers perform their latest album ‘Cocoa Sugar’. The trio have been acclaimed around the world for their experimental approach combining hip hop, punk, dub, gospel, pop and reggae and have already won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. As their support act the Ruhrtriennale looks forward to the American singer Sophia Kennedy, whose 2017 debut album delighted both audiences and critics.

“Opera stories in miniature form” is the subtitle of the ‘Operndolmuş’ project that theKomische Oper now brings to the Ruhr region after numerous performances across Berlin. In a German-Turkish group taxi five musicians set off for community centres, district offices and other locations to presents works from and beyond the classical opera world. The central themes of their arias, duets and instrumental numbers are home, a longing to travel and the question of belonging.

*** in-between time***CHOREOGRAPHY*** in-between time***CHOREOGRAPHY***

Festival guests from the field of dance include the choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly from Burkina Faso. Coulibaly is renowned for his extremely expressive dance theatre, which is always politically motivated. In ‘Kirina’, that celebrates its German premiere in the Maschinenhalle Zweckel in Gladbeck, he examines migration within Africa and investigates the cultural transformations brought about by migratory movements. His choreography is accompanied by music from the internationally acclaimed Malian musician Rokia Traoré, who has created her own version of classical Mandinka music.

The Modern Greek word ‘Exodos’ means escape as well as going out at night and partying. In the theatre, the same word means leaving the stage, a moment in which the mask of performance is removed. Sasha Waltz’s contribution to the Ruhrtriennale is located in between these levels of meaning. Audiences at the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum will experience a piece of choreography with no defined stage area in which they can become part of one collective body.

In her new dance performance ‘Black Privilege’ the Cape Town-born choreographer and activist Mamela Nyamza tackles the increasing racism in South Africa. At the heart of her work lie female figures from the African struggle for independence who are the subjects of a court trial and ritual but are also celebrated on the stage at PACT Zollverein.

The performance ‘Jaguar’ by the choreographer Marlene Monteiro Freitas from the Cape Verde Islands is beautiful and grotesque in equal measure. In her dance project at PACT Zollverein the artist, who recently won the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale, develops an aesthetic that switches between ecstasy and silent movie comedy and reveals a boundless joy in the absurd to a score featuring music by Claudio Monteverdi, Arnold Schönberg, Igor Stravinsky and David Bowie.

*** in-between time***THEATRE*** in-between time***THEATRE***

The theatre programme opens with a new production by the Damascus-born playwright and the Syrian director Omar Abusaada. ‘The Factory’ is based on the story of the French Lafarge cement factory in Syria. In this production at PACT Zollverein both artists reconstruct the events surrounding this manufacturing plant where work continued despite the outbreak of war as a result of pressure from partners in the business.

The public is invited to a special from of reception in the world premiere of ‘Diamante. The Story of a Free Private City’ in the Kraftzentrale Duisburg. For this six-hour theatrical event the Argentinian film director, theatremaker and writer Mariano Pensotti has reconstructed a section of the private city Diamante that was built by a German industrialist 100 years ago in the middle of the Argentinian jungle. The members of the audience are invited to explore the place for themselves and experience the swift rise and equally rapid decline of a social and capitalist utopia.

With their blend of passionate theatre, conceptual rigour and experimental chaos in recent years the off-off-off-Broadway company Nature Theater of Oklahoma have become one of the USA’s leading ensembles. At Maschinenhalle Zweckel their play ‘No President. A Story Ballet of Enlightment in Two Immortal Acts’ receives its world premiere. This creation about two security companies whose employees are former actors and ballet dancers shifts between ballet, silent movie and slapstick – appropriately accompanied by music from ‘The Nutcracker’.

The play ‘Bekannte Gefühle, gemischte Gesichter’ (Familiar Feelings, Mixed Faces) was Christoph Marthaler’s farewell to the Castorf era at the Volksbühne Berlin. In the stage design by Anna Viebrock the play uses many songs and few words to question transience in the theatre and the relationship between art and the art world. As part of the Ruhrtriennale 2018 this celebrated production will be revived at the Musiktheater im Revier in Gelsenkirchen.

A special kind of experiment in music theatre awaits audiences for the world premiere of ‘Nordstadt Phantasien’ by and with Schorsch Kamerun. In his creation the musician and theatremaker simulates the incredible growth of one part of the city from a problem area into a trendy new quarter. Visitors will experience his scenario in the form of a film set they can walk through in the middle of Dortmund’s Nordstadt district – with a live soundtrack, genuine residents and fake scenery. And fittingly for any fashionably edgy neighbourhood, every performance ends with a concert in the hip nightspot “Club Kohleausstieg”.

*** in-between time***JUNGE TRIENNALE*** in-between time***JUNGE TRIENNALE***

The Junge Triennale’s urban project #nofear bears the heading: “We have no fear. We want it all.” In the next three years 40 young people from the Ruhr region will confront their fears, with the focus on a different theme each year. In 2018 it is sexuality. The participants will not only present what they find out from meetings, conversations, interviews and discussions in Essen Katernberg in their own podcast, they will also perform it in documentary form on the main stage at PACT Zollverein.

The production ‘The Welcoming Party’ by international theatre company theatre-rites enables people aged 8 and over to experience flight, parting and arrival. In an odyssey through the Zechenwerkstatt Lohberg in Dinslaken the young audience will be able to gather from specific stories and real encounters what it means to be a refugee and how important it is to have a place where everyone can feel safe.

*** in-between time***INSTALLATIONS*** in-between time***INSTALLATIONS***

The visual artists at the Ruhrtriennale 2018 include American conceptual artist Olu Oguibe, who recently attracted attention with a six metre high obelisk at documenta 14 in Kassel. In Bochum’s Westpark near the Jahrhunderthalle he will realise a sculpture intended as an ‘Appeal to the Youths of All Nations’. For this text-based work Oguibe uses three languages: German and English – as Europe’s two most common languages – and Romany, as a language that represents a large minority and stands for one of the earliest migrant groups in Europe. The sculpture will be supported by a research project that Olu Oguibe will initiate with children and young people on the end of coal mining in the Ruhr region. The results of their collective research will be presented in the form of a photographic exhibition in the foyer of the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum.

Protest and resistance by minorities form the central theme of the film and installation works by French-Moroccan artist Bouchra Khalili. In her new video installation ‘22 Hours’, presented during the Ruhrtriennale at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, she examines the French author Jean Genet and his close links with revolutionary movements. Parallel to this Khalili also exhibits her contribution to documenta 14 ‘The Tempest Society’, in which the current state of Europe is reflected from various different perspectives.

In what was previously St. Barbara’s Church in Duisburg-Rheinhausen the Berlin artist Peggy Buth realizes her video installation ‘Vom Nutzen der Angst – The Politics of Selection’. Urbane Künste Ruhr’s contribution to the Ruhrtriennale 2018 investigates historic circumstances and links that were caused by the business culture of Friedrich Krupp AG and which have had an influence on the most varied forms of social relations in the Ruhr region.

in-between time***FORUM*** in-between time***DIALOGUE*** in-between time***FORUM***

One of the central programme points of this year’s Ruhrtriennale is its celebrated campus programme which has now become one of the largest of its kind in the world and creates encounters between established artists and creative young people.180 students from 15 art and theatre academies within the region and around the world are invited to the International Festival Campus in order to engage with the productions of the festival in workshops and seminars.

Similarly aimed at developing emerging artistic talent is the Cuban-European Youth Academy, founded in 2014 on the initiative of the conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and the Akademie Balthasar Neumann to promote exchanges between young European and Cuban musicians. As part of the Ruhrtriennale 2018 the academy will be held with some 80 music students and its finale will be held in the Grand Hall Zollverein in Essen Under the title ‘Awakening’ the participating musicians will present a new work by the violinist and composer Jenny Pena Campo (born in Havana in 1983) and the world premiere of a contemporary Marian oratorio by the multi award-winning German composer and conductor Jan Müller-Wieland.

How can we gain control of our future?This is the key question of ‘Training for the Future. A Pre-enactment’ in the Turbinenhalle Bochum. The symposium with smaller training sessions, lectures and discussions offers a preview of a much broader project for the Ruhrtriennale 2019, when the public will be trained for futuristic scenarios in an environment of various historical forms and unbuilt architectures.

The Ruhrtriennale 2018 will mark its finale with a highly unconventional work – the ‘Chorbuch’ by Mauricio Kagel (1931 – 2008). The Argentinian-German composer leaves it up to the performing choir which of the total of 53 chorales are sung in which order or repeated and in which combinations with works by other composers. The score itself also contains numerous unusual features – such as instructions to the singers to shout or use megaphones. Chorwerk Ruhr and its Artistic Director Florian Helgath will accept this musical challenge with a cast of 26 singers in the Salzlager at Kokerei Zollverein in Essen.

Further information about the programme, the participating artists and their productions and projects can be found in the printed programme and online at

Music, dance, theatre, performance and fine arts in the former industrial buildings of the Ruhr Area: that’s the Ruhrtriennale. The venues of the Ruhrtriennale are the region’s outstanding industrial monuments, transformed each year into spectacular sites for impressive arts productions. At the centre of all this are contemporary artists seeking a dialogue with industrial spaces and between the disciplines. World premieres and new works are the essence of the programme which makes visiting the Ruhrtriennale an incomparable event. Every season, festival productions from the Ruhr region go on tour around the world.

The artists and themes featured in the programme are chosen by Artistic Directors appointed in three year cycles. The Ruhrtriennale’s Artistic Director for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 is the dramaturg and experienced theatre and festival director Stefanie Carp. The programme for 2018 will be announced at the end of April. This year the Ruhrtriennale takes place from 9th August to 23rd September.