Using the entire text of Franz Kafka as a starting point, we (a team of international artists) will create a durational, immersive performance installation in former Patarei prison, Tallinn. The performance will be free of charge. It will also be made available to an international audience via livestream.
Performance Dates: 16th-19th September 2021
Who I am:
I am an Austrian performance artist currently based in Tallinn, Estonia. Having grown up in Russia, Ukraine and Austria, I later moved to the UK, Germany and Estonia in order to pursue my studies and work. I currently work internationally as a director, performance artist and performer and have created works for Thalia Theater Hamburg, Schlosstheater Celle and Kanuti Gildi Saal Tallinn, amongst others.
(You can find a bio, CV and portfolio/pictures of my past work here .)
(me at Patarei Vangla, 2021)
Background to the project (introducing Patarei Vangla):
The first time I visited Tallinn, the empty building of Patarei Vangla, a former prison and fortress, captured my imagination and heart: This abandoned building, its barred windows facing the Baltic sea, is an important symbol of Estonian history: Originally a fortress it was later turned into a prison by the Estonian government and various occupying powers. The Nazis used it as a concentration camp and the Soviet Union and communist regime as a place to incarcerate their political opponents. The prison, a place of horror for many, remained open after Estonian independence. It only closed its doors in 2002. When I was able to go inside for the first time in late 2020, it looked as if it has only closed its doors yesterday and could be opened again tomorrow. I was struck by the many layers of dissolving wallpaper and the many drawings and inscriptions of the walls: The building truly was covered in layers of skin:
(a room in Patarei Vangla, 2021)
But Patarei Vangla is changing and it is changing fast: The building will continue to house a museum dedicated to the commemoration of its past and particularly the crimes of the communist regime. The rest of the fortress will be turned into a business and leisure complex: Bars, offices and even a hotel.
We find ourselves in a unique moment in time: The building has been stripped of its interior, but not yet filled with the new. It is, in a way, emptier than ever.
I want to use this unique moment to create a unique, once-in-a-lifetime artpiece, a poetic space that allows the past, the present and the future to join hands...
Franz Kafka is one of the most important writers of the 21st century. His surreal texts often speak of the isolation of the individual within absurd, inhuman bureaucratic systems. In Kafka’s world the individual is both a prisoner of himself and of a world that is impenetrable, entrapping and alienating. All of these themes feel more relevant than ever in today's world.
In will use the entire work of this writer as a starting point and primary material to create a performance that brings alive the memories held within the site of Patarei Vangla, opens up the occupational history of Estonia, speaks to the present moment in our time and proposes an artistic vision for the future.
I have therefore invited...
.... the visual artist Julia B Nowikowa (Russia/Germany)
... the light artist Oliver Kulpsoo (Estonia)
and the video artist Mikk-Mait Kivi (Estonia)
...to join me in creating an interdisciplinary installation in an areal spanning 12 rooms of the currently empty prison. Together we will create an immersive experience with the prison walls. We will create a world that the audience can enter and get lost in. ..
I (the performer) will, quite literally, "do time" within the installation: I will perform non-stop for 24 hours within the installation, moving from room to room. After a 24 hour break I will return to the space, this time performing the same piece in half the time (12 hours). After a 12 hour break, I will return to return the same piece in 6 hours, then 3 hours, 1,5 hours...until I am no longer able to continue. I will, quite literally, perform until time has collapsed. I will continue until time has dissolved between my fingers.
Meanwhile, the audience is free to enter, exit and move around the installation/performance as they wish during the performance times. Entry will be free, in order to make this piece accessible to everyone and encourage the audience to enter and exit freely.
The performance will also be made available via livestream to an international audience as follows: Up to four audience members at a time will be able to "clink" their phone into our livestream. They are able to film whatever they want. Their camera becomes an "observing eye", which in turn, allows a remote audience to see the performance from multiple perspectives. The live audience therefore becomes part of the creation of the digital performance experience. The livestream will also be free, allowing audience members to "check in" whenever they feel.
Each hour of the performance will be devoted to a different theme of Kafkas work. I will combine movement and text, creating an experience that transcends the boundary between performance art, movement and text-based theatre.
Last but not least: I will ask 12 "guest performers" to visit my performance at certain time as "prison visitors".
This performance is an artistic experiment that has been conceived and created specificially for this particular space and this particular moment in time.
Where we are right now:
- We have already received permission to use the site of the prison.
- We have already received enough funding to cover the fees for the partipating artists from the Estonian Cultural Endowment Fund
- The project has secured the additional support of the Austrian Embassy
- I have been developing the idea for this project since the beginning of 2020. Intense rehearsals have started on 1st of July 2021.
- The artist Julia B.Nowikowa has already traveled to Tallinn once in preparation for the performance.
- We have already delved into a deep research of the site and reached out to multiple experts connected to Franz Kafka and Estonian history.
What still needs to happen:
We are still looking to raise funds to cover the material costs for the performance, and part of the marketing and the travel costs for the artist Julia B.Nowikowa.
I am hoping to raise an additional 2000 EUR via GoFundMe to help cover these costs.
- August 2021: Rehearsals for the performance, audio-recordings for audio installation
- August 29th 2021: Julia B.Nowikowa arrives in Tallinn
- 30th August: Launch of Marketing Campaign, Press Release
- 1st September-15th September 2021: Set-up of the installation
- 16th-19th September 2021: Performance
- October-November 2021: documentation, completion/preparation and sending of rewards
To stay up to date on our process, please visit:
If you wish to get a more detailed project description or have any further questions, feel free to send me a message.
If you choose to donate, we will...
- be happy to publish your name/your company name on our website/in the programme (if you wish)
- send you a personalised digital thank you including: an audiobook and a Kafka-booklet with images by the end of October 2021
- Alexander Voss
- Ivans Zuravlovs
- Ivans Zuravlovs
- Peter Oberauer
- Günther Goldammer
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