20 years of Ruhrtriennale
What remains, what was important and what was exciting?
On the occasion of the Ruhrtriennale's 20th anniversary, dramaturge Dorothea Neweling, who worked for the festival from 2002 to 2017, compiles a personal retrospective here on behalf of the Ruhrtriennale.
The review will be regularly expanded until the end of 2022. Dive with us into the diverse memories of the individual festival years!
The industrial legacies in the Ruhr region from the great days of mining and the steel industry are immense. From 1989 to 1999, the International Building Exhibition IBA Emscher Park made collieries, power stations, washeries, coking plants, blower and machine halls, slag heaps and wastelands visible, accessible and usable. The potential for transforming these places was uncovered. On the initiative of the state government, the Ruhrtriennale is founded: A festival with both regional and international appeal is to take place annually in the summer in what are now called "industrial venues". On 31 August 2002, the opening of the first edition of the Ruhrtriennale takes place under the artistic direction of Gerard Mortier.
With one hundred railway sleepers, Agustín Ibarolla gives the Haniel slag heap its own rhythm and a touch of poetry. This first installation already contains much of the idea and form of the Ruhrtriennale of founding director Gerard Mortier: the revitalisation of the former industrial sites of the Ruhr region with art that is as political as it is poetic by international artists.
In Bottrop, Peter Sellars calls for a discussion on asylum and immigration with his interpretation of Children of Heracles; in Duisburg, Winterreise is performed in a boxing ring; and Hanns Eisler's Hollywood Elegien are turned into an original experience by the punk musician Schorsch Kamerun in the Salzfabrik at Zollverein.
Angels evoke the utopian power and humanistic potential of theatre, opera, dance and art in 2003 - the second season of Gerard Mortier`s Ruhrtriennale. There is, for example, Olivier Messiaen's Saint François D`Assise in front of Ilija Kabakov's large cathedral dome in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum and the 8-hour performance of Der seidene Schuh. Much spiritual power unfolds in this second programme. A new art form of theatre, music and dance emerges with the creations. Among the most formative creations of the Mortier years are Wolf in the Kraftzentrale Duisburg and Sentimenti in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. With this story of a family of miners, the festival explicitly connects with the labour history of the region. With the Century of Song concert series, the festival proves that popular music also belongs in this new festival. Because pop songs have been firmly inscribed in the biographies of all of us and in the history of the 20th century - and over many festival years also in the history of the Ruhrtriennale.
"Rebuilding the Sky" - this is the title of the new literary series in 2004 and this is the leitmotif over the 2004 season. The programme brochure shows unpublished pictures from Gerhard Richter's Cloud Atlas for this purpose: clouds, sky, an open space, full of utopias. Peter Brook's "Tierno Bokar", something more like a meditation on dealing with violence than a classical theatre performance, fits in with this. The stirring scenes that Ariane Mnouchkine finds in "Le dernier Caravansérail" fit this in a completely different way - they are more than topical 20 years later.
Finally, the "Young Triennale" is a programme especially for children and young people. Cooperations with the independent scene are established in the special programme "Raum.Pfad". At the end, Mortier, who came to the Ruhr from Salzburg, says goodbye to the Opéra in Paris with a brilliant performance of "La Damnation de Faust". But soon afterwards he lets us know: "It was most beautiful à la Ruhr!"
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
A Ruhrtriennale directorship lasts three years. The audience from the Ruhr region was very open-minded about the first edition. Open to the unknown and free in their perceptions, they try things out and go along with craziness. In this spirit, the change to the second artistic director in 2005 is also accompanied by curiosity. The German director and theatre-maker Jürgen Flimm has been appointed.
Flimm and his team are going backwards in cultural and intellectual history with their programme for three years: Romanticism - Baroque - Middle Ages. In doing so, the festival has given itself and the invited artists a theme.
The first season is dedicated to German Romanticism, and lines of connection to the early days of industrialisation in the Ruhr region become discernible. "Nights Underground" by Andrea Breth and Christian Boltanski in the mixing plant of the Zollverein coking plant is an exploration of unknown depths, a treading of abysses and like a timeless floating without romantic transfiguration. In Gladbeck, Alvis Hermanis stages Sorokin's "The Ice". This is also a kind of searching station theatre. Coming to Bochum for the "School of Romanticism" are: Patti Smith (who of course also gives a concert), Michel Houellebecq, Olga Neuwirth and Haroun Farocki. Sven-Eric Bechtolf and Franui have invented an exuberant and fun homage to alpinism - the beginning of which coincides with Romanticism - with "Stones and Hearts" for the Kraftzentrale in Duisburg. The music theatre creation "Das Trojanische Boot" by the music band Mnozil Brass is also full of beautiful lightness and subtle humour.
Von Beginn an wird die Ruhrtriennale finanziell durch Freunde, Stiftungen, Initiativen und Förderer großzügig unterstützt. Ein großes Engagement, das zu einer raschen Verankerung des Festivals in der regionalen, nationalen und europäischen Kulturlandschaft beiträgt.
Die Themensetzungen Romantik – Barock – Mittelalter für die Jahre 2005-2007 sind kein Gedächtnisakt und kein Vorgang des Bewahrens – die Suche nach Reibung und Gegenwartstauglichkeit macht die Verknüpfungen interessant. Nach der Romantik rückt 2006 der Barock in den Fokus. Den Anfang machen Johan Simons und Peter Vermeersch mit »Das Leben ein Traum« von 1653, das in Gladbeck als ein surreales Märchen stattfindet, in dem der Mensch in seine eigene Geschichte eingreifen kann. Die Partitur der Marienvesper von Monteverdi dient Alain Platel in »VSPRS« als Ausgangspunkt für eine Performance über Kontrolle und Verlust. Mit dem Barockgarten an der Jahrhunderthalle Bochum kommt (endlich) etwas Grün auf den Vorplatz – temporär erdacht stehen die Pappeln bis heute! »Rubens und das nichteuklidische Weib« lautet der auch nach Erleben der Aufführung rätselhaft bleibende Titel von Christian Stückls Inszenierung in der Duisburger Kraftzentrale. Bleibenden Eindruck davon hinterlassen haben die Tableaux vivants der Gemälde des übrigens in Oberhausen geborenen Peter Paul Rubens. Die vielleicht größte Anstrengung überhaupt unternimmt das Festival 2006 mit der Aufführung von Bernd Alois Zimmermanns »Die Soldaten«. Eine 130 Meter lange Szenenfläche, auf Schienen fahrende Tribünen, 22 Solist:innen, allein das Schlagwerk füllt schon einen Orchestergraben... 2008 wurde die Produktion zum Lincoln Center Festival in der Armory Hall New York eingeladen – und ist heute noch als DVD-Aufzeichnung zu erleben.
The Middle Ages is the focus for the third year of Jürgen Flimm's directorship. Independent of thematic considerations are the concerts in the "Century of Song" series. As a fixed part of the programme - curated by chief dramaturge Thomas Wördehoff since 2002 - they always take place under an opulent chandelier. A play commissioned on the theme goes to the author Wilhelm Genazino: "Courasche oder Gott lass nach", the premiere is in the Duisburg Gebläsehalle. This space is also the (ideal) location for the performance of another medieval material: "Le vin herbé". Willy Decker directs this secular oratorio by Frank Martin from 1941 about the Tristan and Isolde material. The young composer Jörn Arnecke receives a commission to set "Unter Eis" to music, a text by Falk Richter, who also directs. Also in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum: Jan Fabre's "Requiem for a Metamorphosis": images of death and decay in an endless sea of flowers. Dance has been an important section of the Ruhrtriennale programme every season since 2002. Stefan Hilterhaus curates the programme at PACT Zollverein. Choreographers and their companies from all over the world celebrate premieres in the Ruhr region - such as works by Wim Vandekeybus or Trisha Brown in 2007.
In 2006, Marie Zimmermann was named as successor for the years 2008-2010. But the dramaturge and experienced festival director died during the preparations. Jürgen Flimm's team then extended the festival for another year at short notice. The programme titled Aus der Fremde includes projects already planned by Marie Zimmermann, new productions, a selection of guest performances, concerts in the Century of Song series and readings.
In Duisburg's Gebläsehalle, Christoph Schlingensief recreates Oberhausen's Herz-Jesu church, where he »celebrates« his lung cancer diagnosis as an autobiographical liturgy. Schlingensief's latest work radically and pathetically intertwines art and religion. The work Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in mir is invited to the 2009 Theatertreffen in Berlin. Schorsch Kamerun stages Westwärts in a labyrinth of milky foil tunnels. The Maschinenhalle Zweckel a quarantine camp? Sandra Hüller sings and speaks poems and writings by Rolf Dieter Brinkmann in this walk-in state of emergency. Alain Platel is also a guest at the Ruhrtriennale in the 2008 season. The performance pitié. Erbarme Dich! seeks compassion and pity in the face of death and finds touching images and intense moments for it. Fidena has long been a partner of the Ruhrtriennale. In 2008, life-size rabbit figures in the puppet theater performance Cuniculus. Eine Menschwerdung by Neville Trenter spread their terror at PACT Zollverein. Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers is staged by Ivo van Hove at Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. The story of the five brothers tells of the hope for happiness and the harsh reality of migration and uprooting: the stage is a boxing ring. Over the course of the 2008 festival, an open space for literature has been set up in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. In memory of the late festival director, readings from Marie's books will be held there.
The Ruhrtriennale follows its claim of permanent renewal by electing music theater director Willy Decker as its third artistic director from 2009-2011. The self-confessed Buddhist is the first festival director to also present his own productions. As if written by hand, the word »Urmomente« and a logo painted as if by a Zen master appear at the Ruhrtriennale. Decker precedes each of the three years with a word: departure – migration – arrival. Departure reflects Judaism, Migration reflects Islam, and Arrival reflects Buddhism. In the years 2009-2011, which are accompanied by spirituality, many things seem distant and unknown: Dervishes, rituals and ceremonies, the mysticism of the Sufi. Willy Decker's production of Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum, with the participation of Chorwerk Ruhr and the Bochumer Symphoniker, succeeds in opening the 2009 festival. The story of the suffering of the Jew Hiob, based on Josef Roth, is certainly one of director Johan Simons' most beautiful productions. In Dritte Generation, ten young players from Germany, Israel and Palestine discuss their origins. Yael Ronen stages them sparingly and directly. Jordi Savall has put together a special concert for the Ruhrtriennale with Jewish and Palestinian musicians and texts about the dramatic history of a special city: Jerusalem. Die Stadt der zwei Frieden. In the Maschinenhalle Zweckel Gladbeck, Sing für mich, Tod – ein Ritual for the composer Claude Vivier can be experienced. Vivier's life and work revolved around loneliness, fear and the search for love. A fictional land far away, far from any time - that is Autland. In this music theater piece, Johannes Ockeghem's canon for 36 voices from the 15th century meets music of the present time by Sergei Nevsky. From order to chaos to sensory overload.
The Capital of Culture 2010 transforms the Ruhr region into an ideal cultural landscape for one year. Naturally, the Ruhrtriennale is also contributing a special program: the Maschinenhalle Zweckel in Gladbeck will host the premiere of the last opera by then 86-year-old Hans Werner Henze: Gisela! oder: die merk- und denkwürdigen Wege des Glücks. In Verrücktes Blut, a teacher takes her students hostage at gunpoint and forces them to play Schiller's Räuber. The co-production with Ballhaus Naunynstraße is invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen. The dance performance Vertical Road by choreographer Akram Khan, inspired by the myths of Islam, seeks a spiritual connection between earthly and heavenly life. In Leila and Madschnun, the devastating reality of war is juxtaposed with the utopia of forbidden love. Many tons of sand turn the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum into a desert for the music-theatrical narrative. In the same place, a large room is created under a heavy slab that hovers one meter above the floor. The human perspective in William Forsythe's The Defenders is oppressive. Hardly anyone has ever put the mixing plant of the Zollverein coking plant into heaven and hell as beautifully as Sue Buckmaster and her collaborators from Theatre-Rites in Paradise. Everyday life and religion from Orient and Occident also meet in dance. Le Cri by the Belaza sisters combines the gyrations of the dervishes with the movement language of contemporary dance.
Director Luk Perceval also has a relationship with Buddhism. His Macbeth is a minimalist, impressive, quiet production in an otherwise empty Maschinenhalle Zweckel of an imposing stack of tables and scattered soldiers' boots. Toshio Hosokawa's opera Hanjo, based on a traditional Japanese Nô play, is about the interminable waiting of three people. An ancient material is revived here with the means of Western theater. Choreographer Toshiko Okada comes to PACT Zollverein from Japan with The Sonic Life Of a Giant Tortoise. A couple from Tokyo struggles with everyday life and comes into collision with their (Zen) philosophy of a successful life. The deep, desperate love of Tristan and Isolde is redeemed in weightlessness and oneness in Willy Decker's production.
What would the Ruhrtriennale be without the participation of Chorwerk Ruhr? From the very beginning, this outstanding ensemble has contributed to the success of the festival with its own concerts and as a choir in musical theater productions. In the 117-meter-high Oberhausen Gasometer, Chorwerk Ruhr takes part in Buddha goes to Bayreuth, a spectacular space-sound experience. Also under the direction of Willy Decker, the magnificent festival audience has followed the quite daring path to the »primordial moments«. The final expression of this is the enormous response to the scattering of the sand mandala in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum by four monks from the Kingdom of Buthan - the streams of visitors do not want to stop. The Ruhrtriennale team around artistic director Willy Decker says goodbye with the ceremonial transfer of the South Asian sand into the Dortmund-Ems Canal.
»Art as experience, theater as reality.«, with these words the composer, theater maker and professor of applied theater studies Heiner Goebbels announces the programme of the Ruhrtriennale from 2012-2014. Goebbels and his dramaturgy team are focusing strongly on music and musical theater, showing a lot of visual art, including museums as venues, and giving more space to performance. The 2012 opening is a commitment: radical polyphony and the discipline of chance: Heiner Goebbels' first directorial effort brings John Cage's almost never performed operas Europeras 1&2 to the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum. Boredoms at Halde Haniel = Noise. Power. Performance. Folk. by Romeo Castellucci stages the drama of community and the drama of being alone as an act of baptism in a basin in the Gebläsehalle in Duisburg. The beautiful memory of Soapéra by Mathilde Monnier calls to mind the words »foam« and »time«. Beyond that, it is impossible to describe what happened: theater as experience. Life and Times 2 by New York's Nature Theatre Of Oklahoma is theater as a series – episode 2 of 10 runs at PACT Zollverein in Essen. The live art course 12 Rooms attracts a large audience to the Museum Folkwang. The intimacy of the rooms, the radicality of the presentation, the power of the performers and also the humor of the international artists leave a lasting impression.
Subverting genre assignments is the declared intention of the 2013 programme as well, the second year of artistic director Heiner Goebbels. test pattern is the overwhelming experience of the perfect synchronization of reduced image and reduced sound at the Kraftzentrale Duisburg. Over 22,000 people have visited this 100-meter version of Ryoji Ikeda's installation in the Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord. Global arms trade and its consequences for the lives of different people worldwide, this is what the Situation Rooms by the performance group Rimini Protokoll tell us about in the form of an augmented reality installation that can be walked through individually. The subtitle of the performance 300 el x 50 el x 30 el reads »A play about what you can't see«. Pictures instead of words are the principle pursued with relish by the storytelling group FC Bergman from Antwerp. The premiere of Boris Charmatz' Levée des conflits in the amphitheater on the Halde Haniel took place in continuous rain. Performers and spectators united and held out until the end. The next evening the performance moved to the atrium of the Bottrop vocational school. Extraordinary, even for a producing festival like the Ruhrtriennale, is the undertaking to perform the unknown and unperformed masterpiece Delusion of the Fury by Harry Partch. Heiner Goebbels' production is preceded by the MusikFabrik ensemble's building and learning of the adventurous instruments for the 43-tone system of the exceptional American composer. Another significant music theater work, Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, will be performed toward the end of the 2013 season, directed by Robert Wilson. Composer Helmut Lachenmann personally attends rehearsals and »controls« the sound. Dan Perjowschi's art of labeling and inscribing public spaces previously immersed in black will be on display at Documenta fifteen in the summer of 2022; in 2013 he turned the walls and windows of the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum into a temporary work of art with wall window workshop.
During Heiner Goebbels' artistic directorship, the Junge Triennale underwent a completely new direction and was renamed »No education«. At the center of the work are The Children's Choice Awards, an initiative of the Canadian research and performance group Mammalian Diving Reflex and Darren O'Donnell: the official festival jury of children and young people attends and judges all the festival's performances, meets and interviews the artist:ins and awards prizes such as »The show where I thought wtf?«. Romeo Castellucci calls it a »choreography for 40 machines with music by Igor Stravinsky.« His Le Sacre du Printemps gets by with a recording of the music and no dancers at all: Machines perform and animal bone dust replaces the human sacrifice. Without wanting to reduce the performance of Louis Andriessen's De Materie to a single moment, the slow appearance of the flock of sheep, guarded by a luminous zeppelin, remains unforgettable. Since 2012, Urbane Künste Ruhr has made an artistic contribution to the Ruhrtriennale program. These are works of art in public space, mostly participatory and often processual in nature. In 2014, Melt is a footbridge built on springs from reflecting aluminum plates along the Hochofenstraße of the Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord. Begins at 11 p.m., lasts four and a half hours, »The greatest possible silence is requested.« The »Night Concert« in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum with the Ensemble Modern will feature Morton Feldman's For Philip Guston. Audience members and musicians merge into a sworn community. The last of the many extraordinary concerts between 2012-2014 once again represents the programmatic spectrum of musical works of the past three years: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam plays compositions by Zuidam, Varèse, Stravinsky, Ockeghem and Ligeti – his Requiem sets the final tone of Heiner Goebbels' Ruhrtriennale in 2014.
»Be embraced!« that is what Johan Simons, artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale 2015-2017, and his team call to the people of the Ruhr area: the festival of 2015 to 2017 embarks on a search for the sparks of the gods (of knowledge). Dutchman Simons is well known to Ruhrtriennale audiences. From Sentimenti, his first production at the Ruhrtriennale in 2003, to the »Seid umschlungen« programme, there is a nice arc: At the center, man and his feelings, and the Ruhr area, to which the festival will forge new connections over the next three years. It starts with Ritournelle, the long night of electronic pop music. The line-ups of 2015-2017 attract new groups of spectators. With the first music theater evening, a venue of colossal dimensions is added as a Ruhrtriennale venue in 2015: Johan Simons stages Pasolini's Accattone in the disused coal mixing hall of the Lohberg colliery in Dinslaken. The dimensions of the hall make people seem small and insignificant; the cantatas by J.S. Bach provide comfort. The Jahrhunderthalle Bochum is again the central venue of the festival. The studio of Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout builds an expansive festival center on the forecourt of the Jahrhunderthalle and gives it the title The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. In the mixing plant of the Zollverein coking plant in Essen, a radical aesthetic approach to Monteverdi's opera Orfeo follows: Susanne Kennedy transports visitors in seven installative rooms into states of expectation and waiting, fright and liberation. Those who wanted to see Luigi Nono's Prometeo at the Kraftzentrale in Duisburg had to walk through dense fog beforehand: To lose orientation? To sensitize the sense of hearing to the tragedy of hearing? Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, the great Belgian dancer and choreographer, is a regular at the Ruhrtriennale. The source of her choreographies is always music; in 2015, a text now makes a very present appearance: The Way of Love and Death by Cornet Christoph Rilke. Johan Simons' Rheingold in the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum is one of the most popular performances of the festival. The thesis is: With Rheingold, Wagner tells the story of the Ruhr region.
In order to enable artists and audience members to continuously connect with themes of artistic practice, appointments will be made with three artists over a period of three years: With the choreographer Richard Siegal and the directors Luk Perceval and Ivo van Hove. Richard Siegal is developing a Three Stages Dante trilogy at the Ruhrtriennale: Hell, Purgatory, Paradise. "In medias res" is the Purgatory stage. Luk Perceval is adapting Émile Zola's novel cycle "The Rougon Macquart" as the "Trilogy of My Family" for the semi-open casting hall in Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord in 2015-2017. The tragedy of man in the age of industrialisation - what fits better in the Ruhr region than this material? In 2017, the three parts "Love", "Money" and "Hunger" will be shown in a 9-hour theatre marathon. In parallel, Ivo van Hove is staging three novels over the three years by the author Louis Couperus, famous in the Netherlands but yet to be discovered in Germany. After "Die stille Kraft" in 2015, "Die Dinge, die vorübergehen" can be seen in 2016 at the Maschinenhalle Zweckel in Gladbeck. The finale is "Kleine Seelen" in 2017. With the premiere of "Die Fremden" in the coal mixing hall of the Auguste Victoria colliery in Marl, the artistic director is directing a creation of music, drama and film in a gigantic industrial hall, which deals with the debate about colonialism and racism and the immigration of refugees. We are the problem - this is what the negotiated change of perspective brings to light. Meanwhile, the Junge Triennale undertakes a change of power: with "Teentalitarianism", a group of children and young people with their own production office and self-determined programme become part of the festival. For "Urban Prayers Ruhr" by Björn Bicker, the festival goes to the believers in their places of worship between Duisburg and Dortmund, Hamm and Dinslaken. Emaciated, maimed bodies kneel around the carcasses of three horses - Alain Platel and his dancers are represented at the Ruhrtriennale with another touching choreographic work. "nicht schlafen" is a ritual about suffering and death with the music of Gustav Mahler.
In 2017, hip-hop has finally arrived at the Ruhrtriennale. The audience's beloved theater maker Sue Buckmaster and her group Theatre Rites make sure of that; »The Broke 'n' Beat Collective« is enthusiastically celebrated – not only by children and young people. On three evenings, PACT Zollverein invites to an investigation of perspectives under the title »Episodes of the South«. Artists, intellectuals and the public will address the structural imbalance in the world that has been shaped by colonialism. This necessary rethinking of traditional geographies is practiced sensually by jointly viewing and analyzing museum exhibits. With »Projecting [space[«, choreographer Meg Stuart and her company Damaged Goods run a performance workshop in the Lohberger Zechen-Werkstatt. The result of this collective work is more than an interesting performance visit, it is a collaborative experience about space, material, body, energy. Dancer Trajell Harell's performances – including »Caen amour« – are always an intellectual exploration of dance traditions and narrative strategies. What may sound abstract in the descriptions becomes a deeply moving experience on stage. In the Kraftzentrale Duisburg, a »White Circle« of vertical fluorescent tubes surrounds the audience in the installation of the label raster-noton. archiv für ton und nichtton, the impulse is given by the sound of Alva Noto, among others. The Jahrhunderthalle Bochum is always the backdrop for the really big opera. In 2017 it is »Pelléas et Mélisande« by Claude Debussy. Directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, conducted by Sylvain Cambreling, performed by the Bochumer Symphoniker and sung by Chorwerk Ruhr and internationally renowned soloists. Since 2016, a truck converted by Rimini Protokoll into an auditorium has been traveling through the Ruhr region. The truck leads to seven albums (= places), each with seven tracks by local and international artists. Loekenfranke shows the »compilation« of Truck Tracks Ruhr as an artistic contribution of Urbane Künste Ruhr in the mixing plant of the Kokerei Zollverein.
In 2018, there Is once again a change in the artistic direction of the festival. As always, this is connected with the programmatic claim to renewal. Appointed is the dramaturg Stefanie Carp and as Artiste associé director Christoph Marthaler. Stefanie Carp describes the »today« as an »in-between time«. A time marked by millions of migrating people and global distribution and climate wars. For her program, she invites international artists from the African and South American continents, from Asia, Europe and North America. The program begins with The Head and The Load by the South African William Kentridge, whose artistic practice deals with the history of his country. The staging raises questions: Who gets to tell whose story and who gets to be on stage? The world premiere Universe, incomplete of the unfinished Universe Symphony by Charles Ives is a masterpiece from the Marthaler-Viebrock cosmos. Titus Engel conducts the Bochumer Symphoniker in the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum. This season, many choreographers shape the program: among them the dancer and activist Mamela Nyamza with Black Privilege, the choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly with Kirina and Exodos / EΞΟΔΟΣ by Sascha Waltz. Large-scale is also Diamante: This is the name of a workers settlement in the Argentine jungle. The author and director Mariano Pensotti is building a theatrical settlement of the same name in Duisburg's Kraftzentrale. What used to be the factory settlement in the Ruhr area is the private city of the 21st century. Shelter or surveillance room?
In her first season, Stefanie Carp also triggers widely noticed discussions. Central is the debate about the band Young Fathers and its connection to the BDS movement. In the course of this, the festival invites to the panel discussion »Freedom of the Arts«. It is about the tension between freedom of expression and freedom of art and about personal and social responsibility in the context of German history. Opinions differ widely, and it remains open whether an understanding will be possible.
The Ruhrtriennale 2018-2020 has a festival center again. The architects' collective raumlaborberlin is using parts of an airplane to develop a temporary architecture in front of the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum: Third Space – as the title suggests – offers a bar and a space for interactive and discursive formats inside the plane. The 2019 season will open with the production of artiste associé Christoph Marthaler Nach den letzten Tagen. Ein Spätabend. For this, Marthaler has found a space in Bochum that is aesthetically perfect for his whimsical, humorously beautiful productions: The Audimax of the Ruhr University Bochum, which opened in 1974. Among the very impressive productions is the music theater piece Evolution by Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber, which tells of the life of a Jewish woman and her Holocaust experiences. Christiane Jatahy tells of the fate of people and countries in The Lingering Now. The Brazilian artist uses theater and film to create a dialogue between the documentary and the fictional. With Chorwerk Ruhr, the Ruhrtriennale has Germany's best chamber choir in its program every season. With the program Coro, featuring works by Luciano Berio and Alessandro Streggio, Chorwerk Ruhr will perform in the Maschinenhalle Zweckel in Gladbeck in 2019. Former artistic director Heiner Goebbels returns with Everything that Happened and Would Happen including some objects from Europeras 1&2.
2020 there is again a discussion around the topic of BDS. This time triggered by the invitation of the opening speaker Achille Mbembe. The Cameroonian historian and philosopher is accused of anti-Semitism in the context of his works. Although Mbembe clearly denies the accusations, his invitation triggers a national debate in the German feuilleton, among others.
Regardless, the festival will not open: 2020 marks the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Like many other events, the Ruhrtriennale 2020 will be canceled. What remains temporarily is a digital collection of video, audio, and text contributions by artists of the 2020 program. Selected productions may eventually be realized at the Ruhrtriennale 2021 and other institutions, such as Tanzhaus NRW, the Theater der Welt festival, or Museum Folkwang. These include Archipel by Stephanie Thiersch and Brigitta Muntendorf, the new work Los Años / Die Jahre by Mariano Pensotti, and the Chorwerk Ruhr concert with Mendelsohn-Bartholdy's Elijah.
In 2021, there will once again be a change in the artistic direction: The artistic director for the Ruhrtriennale 2021– 2023 is Barbara Frey, who, as a proven drama director, will take over the opening of the festival herself in the Maschinenhalle Gladbeck with Der Untergang des Hauses Usher.
As always, premieres in dance, music theater, performance and installations follow throughout the Ruhr region. In the Jahrhunderthalle Bochum, this includes the musical theater Bählamms Fest. The production of the Irish collective Dead Centre follows the oppressive plot about the life of a family in the countryside with impressive images and surreal scenes. This premiere is accompanied by the commissioning of not one but two new creative venues on the same site. One is the festival library with book recommendations from the season's artists, and the other is the Pappelwaldkantine. Those who had already written off the poplars – once elevated to the status of a baroque garden – are taught a much better lesson: with few resources, a formerly inhospitable place has been transformed into a romantic meeting place.
For many visitors, A Divine Comedy by Florentina Holzinger is certainly one of the most moving performances of the season. In the Kraftzentrale Duisburg, a venture takes place: courageous and artistically elaborate, something is dared there. Rarely has a female perspective on the world come onto the Ruhrtriennale stage with so much power and imagination (honestly, perhaps never before).
A gem of contemplative power takes place at the Museum Folkwang: The Life Work by Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen. It is touching to experience how four old Japanese women calmly act in minute movements in an atmospherically dense space, while memories of their long lives become audible from offstage. Memories of growing up, in turn, are »on display« in the Turbinenhalle Bochum: In the video installation 21 – Erinnerungen ans Erwachsenwerden, Mats Staub portrays narrators as listeners to their own words. One of the few commissioned compositions of veritable length in the festival's history is D • I • E by Michael Wertmüller. We take our seats on swivel chairs in close proximity to the conductor Titus Engel and surrounded by four groups of musicians. An experience of community that has become rare in the epidemic.