Stefan Kaegi, Co-Founder of Rimini Protokoll, Is the Curator of this Year’s Idiom at Malta Festival

Akcje Azjatyckie / Asian Investments is the Idiom of this year’s Malta Festival Poznań. The Idiom Curator is Swiss artist Stefan Kaegi considered one of the major European theatre artists of the younger generation.

Stefan Kaegi (b. 1972, Switzerland) studied visual arts in Zurich and drama/theatre/media at the University of Giessen, Germany. In the year 2000, with Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel, he founded the theatre collective Rimini Protokoll in Berlin. The collective is one of the most interesting theatre phenomena in Europe and has been honoured with numerous awards, for instance the German Theatre Award Der Faust (2007), the New Theatre Realities Prize being part of the Europe Theatre Prize awarded to artists who create new theatre language (2008) and the Silver Lion at the 41st Theatre Festival, Venice Biennale (2011). Stefan Kaegi currently resides in Berlin.

Both his individual projects, as well as those with Rimini Protokoll, comprise dynamic ready-mades set in urban contexts featuring ordinary people called “experts”. Argentinean porters (Torero Portero), Bulgarian truck drivers (Cargo Sofia), Brazilian policemen (Chácara Paraíso), German undertakers and medical students (Deadline), as well as Hindi call centre employees (Call Cutta) tell their stories and talk about their work becoming the actors and co-creators of the shows.

Kaegi is a director who rather than staging plays discovers theatricality in everyday life. As he records reality his projects balance on the verge of the real and the fictional being an outcome of exploration, dialogue, observation and conceptual action. Both the way he works and the issues he focuses on, i.e. war, globalism, capitalism, unemployment and exploitation, in addition to old age, death, manipulation and the everyday lives of ordinary people, give his theatre a political undertone without turning it into political theatre in the strict sense.

Kaegi produces his projects in wide variety of places: from Argentina to Lithuania, from Cairo to Vancouver. In May 2011 Warsaw was the location of Ciudades Paralelas (Parallel Cities), a portable urban festival organised with Lola Arias, Argentinean artist with whom Kaegi has been collaborating since 2006. In the project Arias, Kaegi and a number of invited artists (for instance Tim Etchells who was present at Malta Festival in 2010) show various cities from the perspective of sites like hotels, rooftops, shopping malls, stations, factories, libraries, homes and court buildings. By observing people’s behaviour in different places and their openness to unconventional activities, by listening to the stories of cleaning personnel in hotels and of factory workers, and by analysing the files pertaining to local legal cases they create an individual image of the cities included in the project.

In 2009, with Jörge Karrenbauer, he created Cargo Asia, a project referring to Cargo Sofia comprising a film recording of two Japanese truck drivers travelling around Japan, Singapore and China following the “route” of popular Asian products. The film shows the actual route which the goods take, as well as the stories of the people who transport them.

One of Stefan Kaegi’s most recent works is Bodenprobe Kasachstan, a “documentary” theatre play telling the story of people who, in the 20th century, had been shipped around various locations like barrels of oil. As viewers wander with them along a pipeline leading from Kazakhstan to Germany, they discover the stories of their lives.

Kaegi exposes the obscured and the unnoticeable that is pushed to the margin of our attention whilst being an important, albeit not always consciously acknowledged part of our reality. He encourages people to abandon stereotypes, to overcome schematic thinking and to ask themselves questions. He is interested in society, in people and their interactions. As the curator of this year’s Malta Festival Poznań Idiom entitled Akcje Azjatyckie / Asian Investments he will invite us to reflect upon what the concept “Asia” and “Asian” means to us today; to devote our attention to Asian investments, both the remote ones and those which are part of our everyday lives.