Curious about how performance art can address social issues, Serene Tseng explores the Foreign Affairs Festival at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.
Exploring social uncertainties through contemporary and performance art.
Hardly anything is certain in life, and though hindsight is always 20/20, we are still caught off guard when uncertainties
arise. Fusing theater, dance, fine arts, film, and music, the Foreign Affairs Festival explores the ambiguities of the present through contemporary art, bringing both uncertainty and art to new heights at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. This year’s Foreign Affairs focus artist is South African William Kentridge (pictured above), whose oeuvre encompasses the political climate and his own identity as the son of prominent anti-Apartheid lawyers. Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s history, his interdisciplinary work transcends the individual limitations of artistic mediums. Starting on 5 July, Kentridge will be performing together with composer Philip Miller, presenting a witty and subversive song cycle that unites animation films based on Kentridge’s charcoal or ink drawings with a live performance by singers Ann Masina and Joanna Dudley and pianist Vincenzo Pasquariello. On 5 July, Alain Platel’s musical theater will portray an orchestra musician’s inevitable demise. With instrumentalists and actors on stage, this tragicomic performance is a celebration of life in which familiar classics of music by Mahler or Verdi morph into a new listening experience. On the 7th, Antwerp-based theater company will be screening their BERLIN Zvizdal, documentary a filmic portrait that tells the story of the last months of an elderly married couple residing amid radiation in a ghost town near Chernobyl. And every night at 10pm, the Haus der Berliner Festspiele presents a new exhibition, culminating with an all-nighter of performance by theater company Forced Entertainment, which uses art as the counter to uncertainty before another day begins again. That much, at least, is for certain. 5–17 July. Haus der Berliner Festspiele. www.berlinerfestspiele.de