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White on White #3 - a non-controversial shit in the blackbox

Why is the Black Box black? Why is the White Cube white?
Or differently put: how would a theatre-institution look like, that is based on the so-called Critical Whiteness Theory? How a repertoire in Sweden, Europe?

Differently put again: what has to be brought into our art spaces, so they become less WHITE.

White on White, a new founded German-Swedish duo devotes itself with passion to the sight of the standard on European stages.

In alternative to the concept of representation called multiculturalism, the series of the same name meets the question of appropriation/colonization of the so-called stranger with a radically discrete gesture: White on White devotes itself to WHITENESS.

The reversal of the colonial gaze necessarily takes into focus those spaces of the art-world, that understand themselves being the ultimate spearhead of cultural amalgamation: in the logics of White on White though exactly these are considered to produce the very avant-garde of WHITENESS. The black box of postmodernist stage art - again and again it produces the WHITE Space: the one that gets access to it, turns into a shareholder of the WHITE Privilege, the one who learns its gestures may become the president of America, but he´ll rarely get to play Othello anyway.

In White on White #3 Malmborg and Schmit take a closer look at the logics of innovation that structure contemporary stage art. What aesthetical strategy needs to be adopted in order to be perceived as THE NEW? What could be an authentically transgressive action within the frame of theatre and what kind of transgression can be considered “symbolic”, as it is complying with the economies of innovation that structure the art-world anyway?

In more simple terms: is it an appropriate reaction to the segregated worlds dividing Malmö into WHITES and NON-WHITES to have an Arabic actor playing the main part in Hamlet and call the show Mohamlet?

As a theatrical contribution to the multicultural dialogue between Sweden and Germany White on White #3 once again meets the challenge of giving the WHITE, European Majority-Society a voice / of taking the privilege of remaining silent away from it.

By and with : Iggy Malmborg & Johannes Schmit

Visual design : Ralf Hauenschild

Light design : Daniel Goody

Poster : Paul Bowler

Production : White on White

Co-production : Inkonst (Malmö), Theaterdiscounter (Berlin)

Supported by : Swedish arts council, Nordic culture point

Thanks to : Inter Arts Center (Malmö), Folkuniversitetet (Malmö)

Shown at : Inkonst (Malmö), Theaterdiscounter (Berlin), Südpol-Luzern, Hitparaden (Copenhagen)

Still available for touring.

Press Quotes:

"Malmborg and Schmit are definetely no innocent doves, but this very night, they are very friendly, communicative and share their knowledge about who has done similar things at Inkonst, as well as their relation to suppositories and Lacan´s theory of the Other.
However absurd it may seem from outside, it is actually quite pleasant and giving, even though it takes time.

The small brown pile, so private and so spectacular, when it is comes to lie in the end on the carpet, as a product of the oral and the anal, it succeeds. But a feeling of melancholia spreads, given the fact, that an era is seemingly over now."
-Barbro Westling, Aftonbladet 31/10/2011

“Malmborg and Schmit used their own lilly-white bodies as projection-screens, to prove that the non-colored male is the king of the theatre – maybe they wanted to make a point about being so comfortable in their position that they even could poo on stage, and get applause for this.
Which is a smart move, because who is it, actually standing with the pants down: the artists or the audience?”
-Rakel Chukri, Sydsvenskan 4/11/2011

“In the beginning we see the man the way we are used to: in the main-part and due to classical Freudian principles, castrated in the relation with his wife. In order to break free from the cliché, he is forced to smash the bourgeois mahagony-furniture with a sledgehammer.
It is almost a theoretical violence in the same way as the announced shit is said to be a symbol of the empty gesture, the theatre performs when it is supposed to represent the multicultural society through stagings such as Malmö Stadsteater`s ‘Mohamlet’.”
-Boel Gerell, Sydsvenskan 31/11/2011

"Sometimes you leave the theater, thinking, "Well, this evening was real sh...". With White on White at Theaterdiscounter this has to be taken literally.
This is not just an act, what's lying on the floor at the end of the evening is real shit.
Are there no borders on Berlin's stages anymore?
Berlin based Johannes Schmit (30, worked as assistant director for the great Katharina Thalbach) and his swedish partner Iggy Malmborg (24) prepare the audience for the "highlight of the evening" in a sold out theater.
After 155 minutes (where furniture is smashed, walked a lot in circles, and much talked) they drop their pants, cower on chairs - and everything takes it's course.
The audience reacts unaffected, only one feels the need to articulate a "Wow", three leave the theater early (Shit happens...).
As a critic one could just slam his fist on the table and say: No one wants to see that! Basta!
But why is no one in the audience outraged?
Schmit: "The phantasy of the spectator is more radical than the actual event. That's what we want to show." Indeed there's a lot of applause for the freshly cleaned actors.
Still, the evening is, generally spoken, for the a...: The dramaturgy towards the actual act is very lengthy, the act itself not shocking. But that's intentional. Malmborg: "We did not want to provoke." But it's very tiring.
Much different than the 12-hour-shocker "John Gabriel Borkman", at Prater of Volksbühne. There is also actual shit on stage - and still most critics love it.
Is there a new disgust-trend on Berlin's stages? Schmit: "No. Our next project is about beauty."
Well then, go for it.
-Roland Keitsch, Bild Berlin 30/01/2012

About excrements in the public institutions and other scandals.

Performance art is about transgression, violence and body fluids. But not only that. A new international festival in Copenhagen wants to show the wide range of the field.

Pumpehuset. Hitparaden – International Festival for Performance Art

It is not so much that the two young men in White on White actually shit on the floor in front of us at Pumpehuset. No, what is provoking about it, is the well-articulated thoroughness with which they do it. Young and confident the two Swedes sit there with each of their Macs and lecture us about theatre history as one long trail of transgressions. Suddenly one of them gets a hammer and smashes the beautiful wooden table to pieces. But don’t worry, the other one says, the destruction is only symbolic. The theater’s black box is a cultural construction, where everything is allowed. Even the shit, that drops at the end of ‘#3 – a non-controversial shit in the blackbox’ - as promised.

The show is part of Copenhagens’s new international festival for performance art. Wednesday Belgian Gwendoline Robin blew her self up with fireworks. Purely symbolically, of course. But that is exactly what White on White is getting at. Transgression and symbolic violence has always been the trademark of performance art. But by doing so, has it not turned the violence and exclusion of society into aesthetics and emptied the social tension from critical and political potential?
Iggy Malmborg and Johannes Schmit are jävla charming in their anarchistic flirt with the audience and theatre space’s excluding convention.

“We can see, that you are all white like us”, they state in a dry manner, and we bow/crumble in our seat as the sinners in the house of God. Anyhow, we eat the shit raw.

The project provokes to reflection, but would probably gain from turning down the long preaching about the theatre as a social construction of the white, Western subject and turn up the formal ambitions instead.

Argentinian Hector Canonge is very humble in ‘sur’. A brief, almost speechless piece about a man, who fights oppression. First naked and exposed under the burning desert sun. Then to be left to the violence of his fellow human beings in a scene which refers to Argentina’s brutal dictatorship.

Canonge dances an infernal tango only dressed in an extravagant red cardboard beak, that makes him look like a ridiculous, self-absorbed alpha male. The whole soul of a people caught in one simple image and a dance, attempting to break free. Simple and strong.

Both Canonge and his two Swedish colleagues try to put an end to fixed identities and national constructions. Hitparaden - with its ambitious line up of performance art from most of the world - shows in a brilliant way how such showdowns may be presented with such different artistic expressions and historical context. A welcomed and much needed initiative.
(translation : Inga Gerner Nielsen)
-Kristian Husted, POLITIKEN, 18/05/13

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