Or Who Owns The World / Oder Wem Gehört Die Welt, 2014

Kaserne, Basel

‘Or Who Owns The World’ is the first German-speaking theatrical project that reflects on the 1932 political art film ‘Kuhle Wampe, or who owns the world’.

This film was the product of a collective whose members included Slatan Dudow (director), Bertolt Brecht (screenplay), Hanns Eisler (music), Ernst Busch (actor) a.o. Building on this work, Hadjiioannou and his team go in search of a social utopia where everyone is equal and solidarity is a reality, and question whether this concept can really work.

Concept, Choreography: Kiriakos Hadjiioannou
Created With And Performed By: Léonard Bertholet, Dominique Cardito, Kiriakos Hadjiioannou, Jost Von Harleßen, Anja Meser, Falk Rößler, Nancy Stamatopoulou
Music: Falk Rößler
Video And Lights: Jost Von Harleßen
Video Performance: Anna Schmidt, Malte Scholtz
Movement Attendance: Nancy Stamatopoulou
Leiul Extérieur: Dominique Cardito
Graphic Design: Ada Tsani
Production Management: Franziska Schmidt

Interview with Kiriakos Hadjiioannou

Why were you interested in adapting the film?

In light of the current crisis and based on the film and Brecht‘s political aesthetics, we examined the artistic method of realism and focused on the opportunities provided by collective action and solidarity.
By placing it in a contemporary dance performance combined with drama, music and video, the film and its storyline are alienated. The performers do not tell a story taken from real life experiences, but one that has been repeated throughout history: the desire for freedom, equality and justice on the one hand, and the tendency towards accumulation, inequality and oppression on the other. Since our means of artistic expression are predominantly movements, we focused on the physical realisation whose energy is generated by the collective. The continuity of the plot is broken by allowing the group to reform, interact and ultimately fail in various constellations. This form of abstraction replaces the narration of the film and creates a framework for specific actions within which the audience has the opportunity to break free of social stereotypes and perceptual patterns and to discover their own interpretation.

Can you describe the actual realisation of this concept?

Using mobile sources of light and video projections, an individual room is created within the theatre for each round. In the video that is edited live, we meet the failed utopia of the labour movement. We attempt to reconstruct Vladimir J. Tatlin‘s "Monument of the Third International". This is complemented with further texts and discussions as well as a closer look at revolutionary romanticism and social realities. The artists work quasi for a new society that has (as yet) never existed. The film provides evidence about the possible role of art in the struggle for a new reality.
Finally, we use our advantage as latter-day citizens to critically question motives. The film music by Hanns Eisler is used as the musical accompaniment, but is manipulated and radicalised using different instruments, therefore increasing the musical tension between harmony and discord. Eisler’s musical balancing act between the "mass suitability" and the "elusiveness" of new music is thus explored fully both thematically and aesthetically.

What is your relationship with this topic?

Brecht believed that art can have a specific effect on human behaviour and lead to changes in society as a whole. The film conveys hope and appeals to a revolutionary subject that should be a catalyst of transformation within the collective. Today, there is little belief in dialectical assertiveness and such a conception would be accused of showing a certain naivety. The question is: How politically engaged can contemporary art actually be?