geheimagentur © geheimagentur
geheimagentur © geheimagentur
geheimagentur © geheimagentur

The Bank of Burning Money, the Wunder-Annahmestelle (i.e. Miracle Receiving Office), the Alibi-Agentur (i.e. Alibi Agency), the Tourism-Art-Stipendienprogramm (i.e. Tourism Art Scholarship Programme) – geheimagentur (i.e. the secret agency) produces situations and institutions that appear to be fictional but then nonetheless withstand the test of reality. The performances of geheimagentur cross the boundaries of symbolic politics towards 'instant pleasure’: they create a miniature version of another reality rather than confirming the old world in critical gestures. geheimagentur is an independent label, an open collective and the attempt to practise the “art of being many”.

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geheimagentur: Porträt

Who is actually behind geheimagentur? That is, of course, a secret. geheimagentur can be anyone. Since 2002, this Hamburg-based performance group has worked primarily on participatory projects; the more people who take part in them, the better. After all, one of the most important goals of geheimagentur is to achieve the broadest possible socialization of each particular scenario. After a geheimagentur performance, no-one and yet everyone is an artist, actor, performer and producer. geheimagentur’s work is expressly not tied to the biographies of individual artists; even its initiators wish to remain behind the scenes. The performance group functions according to its motto of “the art of being many”. And they greatly welcome it when others continue their work. The basic principle is that anyone who has taken part in at least one geheimagentur performance or workshop can immediately use the name, brand, label for their next event and can claim to be the geheimagentur.

Burning one’s fee

geheimagentur’s work is always about using interventions to find new forms of performance art and rejigging the existing economics of attention between actor and spectator. Collectives are brought to the fore that previously did not exist in this form, thereby making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between performers and spectators. The first step involves creating a fictional institution, such as in the event “Asche zu Asche. Eine Show zu Theorie und Praxis des Geldverbrennens” (i.e. Ashes to ashes. A show about the theory and practice of burning money, 2003). As part of its go create™ resistance series,  geheimagentur introduced various models for burning money at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg: money is burnt as a sacrifice to one’s forefathers, to attack the fetish of goods, to buy attention for oneself or indeed to earn even more money. During the interactive lecture performance, part of their fee was distributed among the audience in the form of 10 euro notes. The audience was then urged to take advantage of the possibilities to burn money that very evening – more than 60 percent of them ended up burning the money they had been handed in one way or another.

Desire as a tool

All geheimagentur works follow and serve the logic of desire. A collective research process can only come to life when the expansion of reality – the fictitious and temporary parallel world created by geheimagentur – simultaneously addresses the production of desires. It is only out of the logic of desire that the energy is generated with which the participants take part in the activities of such an institution and are willing to explore the possibilities of action and experience that are on offer. In this context, desire should be seen as an instrument, as a process, and the more or less collective desire should be seen as the result of the work in question. Desire is the tool of collectivization, cleverly luring the individual into a collective – whether it is a question of trickery and cheating in the “Casino of Tricks” (2007), of individual oracle and future consultation in “China ist unsere Zukunft” (i.e. China is our future, 2008), of spontaneous escape from the humdrum of everyday life in the “Get-Away-Gala” (2009) or of acquiring a perfect copy of one of the most famous paintings in the world in “The Most Wanted Works of Art” (2010).

On a quest for answers

A blend of intelligent theory, open play and elementary research characterizes the work of the performance group. The term research should be taken quite literally, as a quest for answers, involving the audience as much as possible, in the form of a “work in progress”.  geheimagentur provides merely the initial idea and the mental prompt by preparing the evening in question in an elaborate setting with virtuoso guest lectures and interactive actions. Playfully researching, questioning social and political relations and uniting foreign cultures, geheimagentur is constantly active, visible and invisible. Is there any favourite type of work in this method of production? Or one that appears particularly successful? “The next project is always the best” is the answer, and you can’t get more productive than that.

Katrin Ullmann

geheimagentur: Produktionen

Parlez! Real Pirats
2011, Kampnagel, Internationales Sommerfestival
Production together with the FUNDUS Theater, the International Summerfestival Hamburg, in coproduction with the Vienna Festival

Molotovs Magische Laterne (i.e. Molotov’s magic lantern)
2011, Deutsches Theater Berlin

Akademie der Trickster (Casino, Workshop, Konferenz) (i.e. Academy of tricksters (casino, workshop, conference))
2010, Styrian Autumn Graz

The Most Wanted Works of Art
2010, Kampnagel Hamburg/Wiener Festwochen

2009, Phu Quoc/Vietnam / Summer festival Kampnagel Hamburg

Anleitung zur Wundersuche (i.e. Guide to searching for miracles)
2009, (in cooperation with the Forschungstheater) FUNDUS THEATER

Die Abendschule der Verschwendung (i.e. The evening school of wastefulness)
2009, Thalia-Theater Hamburg

Die Alibi-Agentur (i.e. The alibi agency)
2008, Thalia-Theater Hamburg

China ist unsere Zukunft (i.e. China is our future)
2008, Beijing/Kampnagel Hamburg, HAU Berlin (Prognosen über Bewegungen, i.e. Forecasts of movements)

Casino of Tricks
2007, Urban Festival Zagreb

Club der Autonomen Astronauten (i.e. Club of autonomous astronauts)
2006, (in cooperation with the Forschungstheater) FUNDUS THEATER Hamburg

Die Wunder von Bochum (i.e. The wonders of Bochum)
2005, Ruhrtriennale Bochum

Freiheit trainieren! (i.e. Practise freedom!)
Schiller Festival Weimar 2005

Bank of Burning Money
2005, Schauspiel Frankfurt (Schöner wär's, wenn's schöner wär, i.e. It would be nicer if it were nicer)

Asche zu Asche. Eine Show zu Theorie und Praxis des Geldverbrennens (i.e. Ashes to ashes. A show about the theory and practice of burning money)
Schauspielhaus Hamburg 2003 (go create™ resistance)

Respekt: geben was man nicht hat (i.e. Respect: give what one doesn’t have)
2002, Schauspielhaus Hamburg (within the frame of go create™ resistance)

Partitur für Polizei und Sirenen (i.e. Music score for police and sirens)
2002, Grenzcamp Hamburg