Editorial

We’re suffocating in dirt – literally and proverbially. Useless information blocks the channels, spam filters can no longer stop it. Fukushima irradiates – four years after the accident, history is made and everything continues as normal. Capitalism has made it possible to talk about an anthropocene. There is no cleanup operation possible that would rid the world of this history, this layer. The raised level of particulates over Asia is effecting the whole world‘s weather and tiny particles are coming loose from the floating plastic Pangaea of the seas. The dirt we make disturbs and has always disturbed. Art not only requires a lot of work, it also generates dirt, that which is output from cultural events often outweighs the positive intentions. Beginning with the waste that cultural institutions generate every day, stage design that are created fire proof but far from ecological standards. There is also the waste of exploitation from its laborers, artists and curators alike. Then there are the carbon footprints for the travel by cultural producers as well as the transportation of art objects, this waste is inline with any other business structure.

The politics of »good intentions« places art in a position to fulfill the capitalist logic of a means to an end. The theory of ecology created by science has been applied to the field of art and culture. The belief that humans can recognize an order or system in nature, that we can as a species then correct the observed imbalances, has yet to be fully problematized. Attempts to mechanize »nature« are yet another toxic colonization, matter does not contain or offer a logic for our manipulation.

Dust does not obey the laws of gravity and dirt accumulates in surprising ways in spite of well-intentioned attempts at resource redefinition. The anthropologist Mary Douglas spoke of dirt as matter out of place. The purity laws of various religions reveal this evaluation process, establishing an orderly system that also has moral dimensions. Julia Kristeva enlarged this idea to the abject, the discarded, the left-over. Indissolubly, it determines what is and still remains excluded. This description does nothing to dissolve the dualism and clings on to the idea of passive matter.

The task of DIRT: AN APPARATUS is neither to reflect society nor to represent reality. We oppose naturalisations even in the disguise of artistic realism and naturalism with the performativity of matter. Using A. N. Whitehead – who understood matter as process – as an example, or Bruno Latour, whose actor-network theory also describes things as actors, as well as theories of new materiality, we search for a materialistic theatre. Agitators raise dust or rummage in the dirt which as earth could be considered treasure or a history of hidden punchlines. Dirt swarms with microorganisms which may even cure depression. Dirt is the perfect material with which to reevaluate matter.

Nothing is prescribed, everything is resonant. The humanistic narrative was always exclusively European, white, male and preferably heterosexual. It is formed of the dualism of either / or, defined through exclusion. It is opposed by positions such as that of Karen Barad, who uses the idea of the apparatus to describe the production of intra-active situations between human and non-human actors. What could be better than an apparatus to rehearse a new narrative? Jane Bennett takes so-called hoarders – people who collect things so extremely that they cannot be parted from rubbish and live in filth – as examples of humans who can hear the call of things. Capitalism itself, with its lust for more and more, its accumulation of items, could also be the product of a misguided approach to matter, just like the hoarders Bennett describes. This is where our apparatus begins and starts a new narrative. If the task of theatre is to be educational, we understand that as a challenge to generate better representations of reality and in this way to make a better reality possible. If culture is a repository for tradition, for that which seems worth remembering, then culture is also the place for an examination of that which we do not want, cannot rid ourselves of – that which pursues us, proliferates and has it’s very own economy: dirt. If the production of theatre itself is dirty, and increasingly follows the logic of international marketing, then this examination of dirt cannot follow the rules of an entertaining festival in both senses of the word. DIRT: AN APPARATUS does not only celebrate the communion of humans, but rather more comprehensively, the communion of things, of which we are a part.

Stefanie Wenner