Spy on Me #3 – New Communities

  • Festival

With The Agency, Timon Beyes, Derin Cankaya & Saverio Cantoni, Creamcake, dgtl fmnsm, doublelucky productions, Anna Fries & Malu Peeters, KairUs, Sylbee Kim, Krip-Hop Nation, machina eX, The Mycological Twist, Kat Merten & Lotte Meret, Legacy Russell, Francesa Schmidt, Nada Schroer, NewfrontEars & Oozing Gloop, onlinetheater.live, Daniel Seitz (Jugend hackt), Roman Senkl & Nils Corte (minus.eins), Houseclub präsentiert: Anna Fries & Göksu Kunak


New communities – and new definitions of community – form the focus of the festival “Spy on Me #3”. Over the past year, we’ve essentially met via digital interfaces. But how can we attain proximity without bodies? How does coming together work when its framework is always pre-programmed? We have internalized the pandemic rhetoric of ‘social distancing’, although the virus itself merely calls for ‘physical distancing’. The social part is still in our control. So how can we maintain community in solidarity, even in the online world?

By no means has the past year provided only encouraging answers. Social media don’t just bring people together; they also thrust them into media echo chambers. The effects of digital amplification favor hate speech and conspiracy theories. Computers are not objective calculating machines, instead reproducing the prejudices they were programmed with – that is, primarily those of white, young, rich men in Silicon Valley. The festival reflects on these things while also introducing progressive new communities in the digital realm: They hack distances, borders, bodies and binaries; they analyze, visualize and deconstruct structures of domination; and they ensure that our bodies and avatars release happiness hormones, even when connection is only virtual. More than anything, though, “Spy on Me #3” presents artistic maneuvers and glitches that underscore our own agency in the online world.

The first edition of “Spy on Me” in 2018 dealt with big data and, despite the necessary criticism of our own surveillance, also tried to trace the appeal that digital platforms and apps have for many users. For the second edition in 2020, we asked how digital reality changes our attention and our desires. Originally planned for the theaters HAU1, HAU2 and HAU3, it was abruptly transformed into an online event due to the pandemic. One year later, we have conceived “Spy on Me #3” directly for our digital stage, HAU4. We’re convinced that collaborative experiences in the online realm are not only possible but valuable. Questions of cultural and political participation need to be asked again and again. How can theater redefine its role, help create a positive sense of community and build networks of liberation?