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Global Embrace & The Theatre of Belonging

A presentation and discussion of the performance work ‘The Utopia of 20 Minutes Embrace’ and associated themes by the Chinese artists the Gao Brothers, and friends, at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin.


Shortly before this event the Gao Brothers will perform ‘The Utopia of 20 Minutes Embrace’ in the heart of Berlin below the Brandenburg Gate; symbolic site of successive attempts to construct and inculcate versions of German national identity and belonging - all of which have had a profound impact (one way or another) across Europe and the wider World.

‘The Utopia of 20 Minutes Embrace’ performance has its origins in works that were created in China in response to specifically ‘local’ concerns to explore and create narratives of self and collective agency that reached beyond the absolutist strictures of one-party rule and encroaching market commodification. But how do these (‘utopian’?) attempts to explore facets of human nature that might possibly stand outside, and resist, the determining effects of normative socio-political configurations translate across cultures and into the signifying fields of distinct locales resonant with their own histories, languages and social codes?

Following the staging of the performance, participants and observers are invited to step across Pariser Platz to the Akademie der Künste to join the Gao’s and friends in a series of informal presentations and discussions exploring these and related themes in the context of the performance.

Artist Stephan Hausmeister will chair the occasion, introducing the Gao’s in the context of the on-going collaboration with Chinese artists that his ‘Field of Vision’ (FoV) project has brought about. Malcolm Ferris, independent curator / researcher will give a critical-contextual introduction to the Gao’s ‘Utopia of 20 Minutes Embrace’, placing it in the context of their earlier China-based projects. The Gao’s will respond with a short commentary on their performance and photographic works, before turning to the audience for questions and further discussion.

Please join us for what we hope will be a stimulating series of presentations and discussions on two of China’s most interesting contemporary artists and their work in the context of recent local-global debates in the arts and culture.