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Pussy Riot, Candice Breitz, Florence Peake, JJJJJerome Ellis head to E-WERK Luckenwalde for The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No

This spring, E-WERK Luckenwalde will present The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No, a major international programme of performances, conversations and workshops reflecting on the power, politics and potential of saying ‘no’

Pussy Riot courtesy of the artists. E-WERK Luckenwalde will present The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No

On Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May 2024, E-WERK Luckenwalde will present The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No a weekend of day and night time events. Inspired by author and art critic Martin Herbert’s collection of essays Tell Them I Said No (2016, Sternberg Press), the programme will consider the implications of resistance, what radical models of self-sufficiency look like, the political connotations of counterculture (or cancel culture), who has the privilege to say no, and artistic vulnerability. The event will take place across E-WERK’s 25,000 metre square site, including the historic Turbine Hall, the adjacent Bauhaus Stadtbad and E-WERK’s outdoor geodesic dome, and will include concerts, performances, panel discussions, karaoke and sauna sessions. Tickets are on sale now via this link and Luckenwalde residents can book to join for free. 

A global list of artists, thinkers, performers, and cultural commentators who will contribute include Lamis Ammar, Sascia Bailer, Mirthe Berentsen, Candice Breitz, Egl? Budvytyt?,  JJJJJerome Ellis, Hettie Judah, Prem Krishnamurthy, Zoe Claire Miller, Eve Stainton & Florence Peake, Nástio Mosquito, Asad Raza, Lauryn Youden, Abbas Zahedi, SERAFINE1369, Pussy Riot, Fatos Üstek and Melanie Jame Wolf.

The programme includes:

Dragging workshop by Eglé Budvytygè is a workshop conceived around the practice of dragging for ‘The Drop Out: Tell them I said No’. It is a somatic workshop on care, attention and using the act of dragging the body as a temporal release from verticality and singularity. In addition to a bodywork session, the focus will be on exercises around dragging as a practice, derived from the performance Some were carried, some – dragged behind, a performance by Budvytyt? from 2015. In a workshop context, dragging temporarily breaks down the social hierarchies between the participants and enables the emergence of a body as pure matter with a fusion of organs, fluids, flesh and bones.

A performance by JJJJJerome Ellis. Through music, literature, performance, and video JJJJJerome Ellis researches relationships among blackness, disabled speech, divinity, nature, sound, and time. His diverse body of work includes contemplative soundscapes using saxophone, flute, dulcimer, electronics, and vocals; scores for plays and podcasts; albums combining spoken word with ambient and jazz textures; theatrical explorations involving live music and storytelling; and music-video-poems that seek to transfigure historical archives. 

Writer and author Hettie Judah will be in conversation with curator and scholar Sascia Bailer and journalist, writer and artist Mirthe Berentsen discussing resilience for parents in the artworld on both practical and theoretical levels. The discussion will evolve into a workshop with the audience to explore some of the issues raised in the panel, followed by a multi-voiced participatory conversation that will result in guidelines to be published on www.sustainable-institution.com.  

In preparation of The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No, Raza and Krishnamurthy have creatively consulted with E-WERK, providing dramaturgical suggestions for the two day event. 

Asad Raza will conduct a soil workshop using simple ingredients gathered from Luckenwalde. Each participant will help to mix a fertile and well-textured “neosoil”. As a form of embodied learning, this exercise gives a practical, scientific and intuitive understanding of soil as a matrix for life and metabolic processes; refuting the demands of mindless intellectual and corporate work in order to pay attention to local ecosystems and planetary ecologies.

E-WERK Co-Artistic Directors Helen Turner and Pablo Wendel will also join artist Asad Raza to explore notions of self-sufficiency, the necessity to pioneer alternative autonomous models for the cultural sector and E-WERK as a drop out or prototype for a sustainable institution. 

Prem Krishnamurthy, of the Department of Transformation, will host the event, conducting his notorious Karaoke sessions and providing a behind the scenes tour of E-WERK with Bernd Schmiedl, E-WERK’s former Production Manager (1956-1989) to learn about the building’s history as a brown coal power station and its transformation into a Kunststrom power station – witnessing the energy process live in action. 

Practice 1 by Eve Stainton and Florence Peake

For The Drop Out: Tell them I said no, Eve Stainton and Florence Peake have abstracted a movement practice from an earlier collaborative work to contextualise it within the Bauhaus architecture of the Stadtbad in Luckenwalde and in response to the thematic considerations of the programme. The swimming pool’s distinctive inclines, declines, pitches and slopes now adapt to the moving bodies and intervene at the same time, serving as both an obstacle and an enabler to their practice. Through the formal task of interlocking at the crotch, they engage in ongoing physical connection, disconnection and re-negotiations to reflect on notions of futility, commitment, continuation, need, love, difference, determination and strife.

Pussy Riot will come to Brandenburg for the first time. Riot Days chronicles Maria Alyokhina’s experiences with Pussy Riot, from their iconic protests to their court trials and prison sentences. The content evolves, reflecting current events like political prosecutions and the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The presentation of Riot Days is in partnership with Cultural Foundation Schloss Wiepersdorf.  

Performance IV by SERAFINE1369 is a system of loose dancing and tight structure; a choreographic machine; a meditative play between instinctive rhythms and the counting of time. It is a work about finding space and trying to be free. This is a relational practice, one that does not presume, where we work to disentangle from, and unsettle our assumptions, and also yours. Here, in this performance, we encounter one another and ourselves.

Berlin based artist and poet Lauryn Youden will present a site specific iteration of you’re seeping into my bloodstream. The work is a 90 minute poetry reading, performative lecture and auto-theoretical essay on love ruled by disease, examining its sick and vampiric tendencies for subsistence. This performance delves into Youden’s continued exploration of chronic illness as near-death experience, or a “time of non-death”

The Promise of Their Body is a new work and continuation of visual artist and choreographer Melanie Jame Wolf’s interest in the politics of performance as labour. Through the performative arrangement of a temporary installation of ceramic works, Wolf will explore audience expectations of the live moment, and economies of presence, absence, and attention. Building on the recent solo exhibition at E-WERK Luckenwalde The Creep – a poetic meditation on the dynamics of violence, desire, and performance – Wolf continues to deepen her engagement with these themes, fostering a rich dialogue between movement, image, and sculptural texture while inviting viewers to confront the complexities of contemporary culture and human experience.

A conversation between artist Candice Breitz, Lamis Ammar, actress and artist, curator and activist Zoë Claire Miller, who have all been impacted by the current culture of sidelining and stigmatisation. 

A development on his series Rose & STEMM, Abbas Zahedi’s performance will weave together improvised spoken word and audio from his long standing collaboration with musicians Saint Abdullah. In this performance, as lyrics and sound flow into one another, Zahedi will meander through the space, inhabiting the boundaries between performer and witness, stage and surround, in opposition to the conventional audience – performer dynamic. Minimal in its technical production, this iteration draws upon Zahedi’s background as an MC, a position that connects bodies through language and sound, allowing the thresholds of this event to become more open and porous.

The programme has been co-curated by Katharina Worf and Helen Turner.

With our programme, we want to create a forum in which perspectives can be heard, research findings can be exchanged and assumptions challenged. We plan to drive debate, through this interdisciplinary programme: about the experience of being on the sidelines, from polyvocal participatory workshops about parenting to conversations about the vulnerability and exploitative nature of the cultural sector, to live performance art that confronts the audience with their own stigmas, breaks down boundaries, plays with discomfort and shame. We hope these encounters will inspire reflection, raise awareness and create a step towards change.

Katharina Worf, Curator, E-WERK Luckenwalde,

Helen Turner, Chief Curator and Artistic Director, E-WERK Luckenwalde, added,

I will always be beholden to artists’ courage and defiance. That, despite the vulnerable and exploitative landscape of the artworld, artists still persist, aggravate, call out injustice – Tell Them I said No. This programme was inspired by Martin Herbert’s eponymous anthology of essays about artist dropouts, those courageous artists who dropped out of the art world in order to cultivate new worlds of possibility, counter cultural movements and autonomous models of production. It was conceived with the intention to think about defiance as a material for system change, about the agentic potential of outrage and withdrawal in cultural transformation, and to consider how to cultivate radical new models of institutional practice that refute exploitative conditions. We are proud to present this programme of dissident voices and to provide a platform for those artists whose voices have attempted to be silenced and think about what we can do when we come together and form alliances

The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No is funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), funded by the Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media), and we acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Programme partners for The Drop Out. Tell Them I Said No include Cultural Foundation Schloss Wiepersdorf, FRANK – Fair Artist Pay and Gallery Climate Coalition.

The Drop Out: Tell Them I Said No, 3rd + 4th May 2024, E-WERK Luckenwalde TICKETS



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