Movement is Tragedy

Peter Vadim

The Animal Empire – you are not invited

Some prominent politicians compare us to pests when we threaten their worldview. But then those politicians are also pests when they threaten our worldview, presumably. Thus, when we are all pests, we might as well get the best out of it. In The Animal Empire – you are not invited Linh Le and I examine the bodily aesthetics of paradoxes that arise when groups of people are compared to pests.

When one group of human beings is dehumanized, all human beings are dehumanized.

Peter Vadim and Linh Le performing in Bådteatret. Photo by Sebastian Neerup Mandel.

Examples of prominent politicians presumably comparing various groups of people with vermin are Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, President of the United States Donald Trump, former Danish Minister of Integration Birthe Rønn Hornbech and former chairperson of the Danish People’s Party Pia Kjærsgaard.

Masks, that we used to create a group of people from the audience. The masks are made by Maria Beydin. Photo by Sebastian Neerup Mandel.

At the same time, there is a significant increase in hate crimes in public spaces. We believe there is a connection. And this is our motivation for doing this performative research.

The masks were also used as scenography at Bådteatret. Photo by Sebastian Neerup Mandel.

Linh Le and I experience various dilemmas and paradoxes which we used as choreographic scores:

  • We accept the image of us as pests and yet oppose it.
  • We want to belong but we create our own communities that separate us from others.
  • When dehumanized, anger is our strategy of survival and the path to our self-extinction.
  • To some extent, we experience liberation in oppression
  • Some prominent politicians compare us to vermin when we threaten their worldview. But then those politicians are also vermin, presumably, when they threaten our worldview
  • If we on one hand resist the image, we will make the conflict worse and probably cause more hate crimes. If we on the other hand accept the image it seems that we let people treat us like vermin. So we try to do both.

Linh Le and Peter Vadim performing at Bådteatret. Maria Beydin made the white pieces that are glued to our bodies. Photo by Sebastian Neerup Mandel.

June 22nd-25th 2019 we did a performative research at Bådteatret as part of Ubådens program.

After each performance we had a panel of artists, politicians, advisors and researchers discussing the theme. Associate Professor Karen Arnfred Vedel and Soundartist Eduardo Abrantes has helped us with questions for the panels:

Panel members:

June 22nd 2019 at 8pm:

Christa Breum Amhøj, External lector, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School and Partner at SDG-Actionuniversity (www.sdg-actionuniversity.dk)

Gerard M. Samuel, Senior Lecturer, Head of Dance Section, Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies, University of Cape Town.

Laura Luise Schultz, Associate Professor, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen.

June 23rd 2019 at 4pm:

Jørgen Callesen, Queer Performer, Curator and Artistic Director, Warehouse9. Ph.d. in Information & Media Studies, Aarhus University.

Morten Goll, Executive Director at Trampoline House – a community center for asylum seekers, refugees and other citizens in Denmark.

Storm Møller Madsen, Queer Performer and Part-Time Lecturer, Theater and Performance Studies, University of Copenhagen.

June 24th 2019 at 4pm:

Signe Flyvbjerg, Artist and Cand.mag. Modern Culture and Cultural Communication, University of Copenhagen.

Bettina Lamm, Landscape Architect and Associate Professor at the Landscape Architecture and Planning division, University of Copenhagen.

Asrin Mesbah, Cand.jur. and counseling coordinator at Trampoline House – a community center for asylum seekers, refugees and other citizens in Denmark.

Kristine Samson, Associate Professor at Visual Culture and Performance Design, Roskilde University

June 25th 2019 at 8pm:

Upeka Abeynayake, Ethnologist, activist and member of several boards including DRC/Documentation- and Advisory Center on Racial Discrimination, IMR and Pluralisterne.

Naja Lee Jensen, Artist and artistic director of HAUT – experimental stage for independent groups and performing artists.

Jens Tang Kristensen, Postdoc. Department of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen, and co-author of the book Becoming Animal.

Rasmus Nordqvist, Member of the Parliament for the Alternative and spokesman on foreign affairs, the EU, climate, peace and defence, cultural affairs and LGBTQI.

From a rehearsal in Teaterhuset. We are exploring collective shapes and forms. Still from rehearsal film.

Linh and I have developed our methods in various projects since 2016: Landscape Scenographies, For a Moment: Singularity and Vejret nu.

Supported by Danish Artist Union. Also, we have received support from Sportgoodsfonden to further develop this project.