Three Athenians in Kassel, Episode Ten: Masters of War

I think we’ll win ourselves a name among the Greeks as those who brought an end to warfare.

– Lysistrata in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

Previously on Three Athenians in Kassel:

After Alexis was kidnapped and nearly eaten and Nina was attacked and had her head shaved, our three Athenians went in search of answers. They visited The People’s Parliament of Collective Answers where they were given a riddle to solve, which eventually guided them to a conversation on a pink carpet. A fellow-performer at documenta 14 encouraged them to leave their role in their individual performance and join the cause of all the performers to create the ultimate performance that blurs the boundaries between art and life. We rejoin our Athenians as they are about to make perhaps the most important decision of their lives.

Bia looked at Nina across the pink carpet. “We have to do this”, she said, “don’t you agree?”. “Yes, I do”, Nina replied, confidently. “Let’s join them!”. Everyone on the pink carpet rejoiced as they all sensed that this was the beginning of something incredible, something new and something that would change them and their world forever. They all joined hands and went skipping together back to The People’s Parliament of Collective Answers, where Alexis was waiting for them. They discovered that this place doubled as the headquarters for the RAPIDO or the Rebel Artistic Performers In Documenta Organization and this was the place where they would break free of the individual performances and unite into the one ultimate collective performance that would wage war on the world as they knew it.

They saw friends they knew, dancers, artists and actors who like them were in Kassel to perform at documenta 14. None of them were the official artists who had been invited by the elites in Athens to take this trip to Kassel, but all of them had put their energy, time, bodies and minds on show for the good of experimental contemporary art. There was a performer from Irena Haiduk’s piece Spinal Discipline as well as a dancer from Georgia Sagri’s Dymanis performance with the 28 sculptures, now housed in Glass Pavilions on Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse.

Our three Athenians finally felt at home here in Kassel – they were among their own and now they had to work together on a plan of action. First of all, they sat around in a circle and discussed what needed to be done.

“We need to commit to abandoning our individual performances, starting tomorrow”, one person suggested.

“Yes, I agree”, Alexis chimed in, “But is that all we need to do?”

“No, that is the bare minimum. Only then, once we have deserted the artworks that enslave us, that instrumentalize us, can we truly come together and replace them with a collective, ultimate performance”. Someone else added.

Alexis spoke again, asking: “So, once we are ‘free’ from the artists and the artwork that brought us here to Kassel, what next? How do we create the ultimate performance?”

As if struck by a bolt of lightning, Bia announced with a jolt, “I know! We must start here and now, in this room. The performance must originate from this spot, this moment, this gathering! We are sick of being the hidden center of everything, the unseen soul of the art of documenta 14, we need to act, we need to announce ourselves, we need to show ourselves and this must happen immediately!”

After saying these words and as everyone looked on in startled admiration, Bia stood up, encouraging all the other performers to do the same. Nina started to applaud her fellow Athenian.

Others shared words of support.

“But how do we begin?”, someone else asked .

Bia thought for a moment and then said: “First, we must get closer together. That is our strength, our intimacy, our willingness to put ourselves and our bodies on the line for art. But now we need act for ourselves, not for some famous artist and their work.”

The circle closed tighter and tighter until everyone was huddled together.

The closeness, the euphoria of that moment was exhilarating and everyone knew that this was it, the beginning of the ultimate performance. They had severed their ties with documenta 14, with their individual artists and artworks, and they were, here and now, together, united, in a single collective body.

It was at that very moment that Bia turned around to face outwards from the circle of performers. Then, gazing intensely, as if into a lover’s eyes or into a camera’s lens that was filming her, she started to sing:

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
We just want you to know
We can see through your masks

The ultimate performance had begun, the performance that would change everything, that would break down the border between art and life. The only question was: what would happen next?

Tune in next time to Three Athenians in Kassel to find out!

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