PATHOS Penpal Project
Deutsch-Amerikanischer Briefaustausch zwischen Antigone Akgün (DE) und John L. Peacock (USA)
Im Rahmen der Reihe «King Kong und die weissen Frauen»
Thank you very much for your last letter, which was, as always, very enlightening. I especially had to smile at the passage about Angela Merkel, although I can certainly share your distant view of this person: I think she does a super job, precisely because she proceeds very rationally and – as it seems to me – does not work for profiling her own person, but for the cause for which she was commissioned. I don’t know if you already know, but this fall there will be federal elections in Germany and Angela Merkel won’t be candidate again. It remains exciting who will be her successor (so far only men are named), in any case, I do not think that the successor will be able to carry out the political business with just the same boldness, but I remain optimistic. By the way, I am not even allowed to vote because I am a Greek citizen, because I never cared so much about citizenships, or as I call them: just papers, but in this case I hope that other people around me, will make a good and inclusive decision.
As I told you another time, the pressure from the right is very high in this country right now, and it’s intensifying with the pandemic frustration and taking very strange dimensions: On the 19th of February, many people commemorated a right-wing terrorist attack that took place in Hanau a year ago and in which nine completely innocent people were shot dead, but the same number of people from the right also cavort – especially – on social media to relativize this racist attack with Whataboutisms and to show that Germany does not have a problem with racism, but with migration – by referring, for example, to Islamist-motivated attacks.
Apart from the fact that I find this completely disgusting, I also wonder why migration has such a negative connotation when our entire human history is characterized by continuous migration.And I also wonder at what point you’re actually not a migrant, here in Germany you never get out of migration status if your physiognomy and/or your name doesn’t match the stereotyped Central European one, regardless of whether you were born here or are already living here in the third generation. What is it like in the USA?
In recent weeks, I’ve also been focusing a lot on Greece from afar, as the #metoo movement has finally made it to Greece, which I personally find very surprising, as Greeks are often people who prefer to cover up unwelcome discourse rather than address it publicly. But in the last three weeks, numerous theater makers have ventured into the public sphere and reported psychological, physical, sexual or verbal violence in their work with other (sometimes very well-known) theater makers. This does concern me, especially since some, not quite so cruel, experiences are also known to me from my own personal experience, but I would never put them, for example, in the category of „verbal violence“, but rather characterize them as a negative quality of a person. And the fact that I felt that way made me think a lot about how problematic this feudal theater system works in different countries, in other words, that you have to endure a lot as a young person while hoping that you’ll somehow get ahead in this system. And that once you’ve managed to establish yourself, amazingly enough, you often reproduce downwards the very cruel qualities that you once detested. For me, however, it is clear that such behavior has nothing to do with art.
Being an artist is about overcoming conformity for the sake of one’s own profit; is the gift of finally pointing to all the societal shit that’s been bubbling up for centuries; is acknowledging one’s own vulnerability and learning to live with it.
Art can only take place in fear-free spaces and in dignified structures.
Art is nothing without happy people – not even remotely able to live. Art that demands victims, manipulates young people, excludes marginalized people is not art, but a manifestation of the abuse of power.
And I am very happy that numerous theater colleagues in Greece are now dealing with this and can perhaps have an impact in other areas through public discourse.
Apart from that, I was shocked to realize today that I’ve been at home for five months now, but I’m also very grateful that I’ve learned in this time where my deficits lie and what about myself I can see in a new way in order to be able to live more happily overall. From tomorrow, though, I finally start rehearsing analog for a Sarah Kane performance and I’m really looking forward to it!
How is the situation at your place? Are there already perspectives for openings in the cultural field? It seems to me that you guys in the US are doing quite well with vaccinations ….
Looking forward to read your news!
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