Ex-Pat Cash (2018)
Sumugan Sivanesan (AU), Carl Gerber (DE) & Simone van Dijken (NL)

Performance, HD Video

Projecting beyond a present state of play, the collaborative tennis-performance Ex-Pat Cash (2018) asks: what happens to an elite, imported game when it is globalised and commodified? Berlin itself is infiltrated by so-called ‘expats’ who play their mostly unwitting role in upscaling land value in that other game: real estate. Focussing on the dilettante body’s experience when obliged to ‘perform’ in an unfamiliar framework, Ex-Pat Cash is a collaboration between artist Sumugan Sivanesan (AU/DE), artist – and tennis teacher – Carl Gerber (DE), and artist and musician Simone van Dijken (NL). A tennis match proceeds with a running, self-reflexive commentary between the three ‘players’, adapting to the ‘game’ by pressing against its limits – and their own. Carl Gerber and Sumugan Sivanesan’s voices are amplified and woven into a sculptural soundscape by Simone van Dijken’s electric guitar riffs, which frame, or perhaps exceed their dialogue, verging on disruption.

Photos: Joanna Kosowska

Sumugan Sivanesan (Berlin/Sydney) is an anti-disciplinary cultural producer. Often working collaboratively his interests span histories of anticolonialism, activist media, intentional communities and resilient networks, non-human rights and extinctions. He has worked alongside the (former) refugee and media figure Sanjeev ‘Alex’ Kuhendrarajah (2013–2018) on a series of texts and artworks to critique the ‘proper processes’ of refugee determination and re-settlement. With artist and writer Tessa Zettel he began the artistic/urban research program ‘Plan Bienen’ (2014–ongoing) to speculate on the overlap of dwindling bee populations and economic precariousness in the cultural capital of Berlin. He was a part of the experimental documentary collective theweathergroup_U (2008–2012) who worked in the confluence of the burgeoning carbon economy and Aboriginal land rights in Australia, and the media/art gang boat-people.org (2001–ongoing) who instigated public interventions and events to argue with successive Australian governments’ draconian border policies and nationalist narratives. He earned a doctorate from the Transforming Cultures research centre at the University of Technology Sydney (2014) and was a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for English and American Studies (Cultural Studies), University of Potsdam (2016).

Carl Gerber, born 1985 in Mainz, studied screenwriting between 2007-2013 at the Filmhochschule Ludwigsburg. During his studies, prize-winning short films were based on his books, including Synkope, which was nominated for the Deutsche Kurzfilmpreis. His short stories Die Untersuchung des Auges and Erster Erste were published with Primero Verlag. In 2012, Gerber led a film workshop on the Turkish-Syrian border for Syrian refugee children. He is part of the Berlin-based Newsgroup Afghanistan, which has facilitated exhibitions, a theatre piece and a publication on the topics of home, flight and the German asylum process. Since 2013, Gerber works as a performance dramaturg. His works have been shown at Sophiensälen Berlin, Ballhaus Ost Berlin and the Harburger Bahnhof, among others. His first full-length film, 24 Weeks, was the only German contribution for the 66th Berlinale competition. After touring festivals and cinemas in over 30 countries, the film was nominated four times for the German Film Prize in 2017, including for Best Screenplay. The film won the “Silver Lola” award.

Simone van Dijken’s (NL) work consists of writing, painting, drawing, and performance, and currently questions hierarchies and vulnerabilities in relation to the body. Van Dijken’s own physical presence and voice are the starting point for understanding the body as a symbolic and political entity, marked by gender, power dynamics, and clothing – or rather protection. By repeatedly painting similar elements, extracted from a spatial and emotional proximity (a second hand V-neck sweater, for instance), she works and re-works visual familiarity, letting recognition fade out. Associative junctions are being layered: spray paint over oil paint, ashes over pigments. Her performances are collages of spoken word and guitar noise. Simone van Dijken was a Researcher Fine Arts at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Netherlands, and received the Lower Saxony Dorothea-Erxleben-Stipend for painting. She was visiting lecturer at the University of Arts in Braunschweig. She lives and works in Berlin.

The governing political party of the GDR (German Democratic Republic).
Led by architect Horst Bauer, who also designed Berlin’s iconic Café Moskau.
Tobias Doll, Elisabeth Eulitz, Karla Schäffner. Berlin- Pankow: Sozialistische Botschaftsbauten Städtebauliche Dokumentation – Freiraumplanung – Typenbauten. Masterarbeit im Masterstudium Denkmalpflege der TU Berlin, Wintersemester 2012-13.
One key architect involved in the urban planning of Marzahn, Wolf-Rüdiger Eisentraut, was in 1996 to renovate the embassy itself when it was transformed, briefly, into a medical laboratory.
A 1970 ‘Neues Deutschland’ article compared Australia to ‘neo-colonialist’ South Africa, citing its ambitions towards regional dominance, its racist ‘White Australia’ policy and ‘arch-reactionary’ denigration of Aboriginal people. See: Walter Kocher, ‘Der folgsame Vetter des Uncle Sam’, Neues Deutschland, 12.7.1970, 6.
The site was rented from the GDR by Australia, however operations were prematurely closed down in 1986. Held by the public hand for a time, the site subsequently hosted a kindergarten, the Deutsche Industrie- und Handelsbank AG, and the medical laboratory bioscientia Institut f. Laboruntersuchungen Ingelheim GmbH, before being privatised by the BImA) (Institute for Federal Real Estate) to investor Lars Dittrich, hosting the media start-up tape.tv, being resold to real estate developer Prexxot GmbH and now: hosting the artist studio complex Atelierhaus Australische Botschaft Ost, who are currently attempting to extract the building from the speculative real estate bubble, looking towards collective ownership formats.
Doreen Massey, For Space, (SAGE Publications, 2005) 70-71.
Monteath, Peter (2008) ‘The German Democratic Republic and Australia’ in Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 16:2, 213-235, siehe auch: Schedvin, Boris (2008) Emissaries of Trade: A history of the Australian trade commissioner service, Canberra: WHH Publishing, 279-280.
Daley, Paul (2018), ‘Revealed: how Australian spies filmed Indigenous activists during the cold war’ in The Guardian, 13/02/2018. Artikel online aufrufbar hier.
Monteath Peter & Munt, Valerie (2015), Red Professor: The Cold War Life of Fred Rose, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 275.
Hurley, Andrew Wright (2015), ‘No Fixed Address, but currently in East Berlin: The Australian bicentennial, Indigenous protest and the Festival of Political Song 1988’ in Perfect Beat, 15:2, 129-148.
Krätzer, Tobias (1998), Botschaften und Konsulaten in Berlin: Eine stadtpolitische Analyse, Berlin Verlag, 132.
Frederic Jameson, ‘The Aesthetics of Singularity,’ New Left Review, no. 92 (2015): 130.
This definition of neoliberalism draws on William Davies, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition (London: Sage, 2014). I have written about this at more length and with full references elsewhere: Ben Gook, ‘Backdating German Neoliberalism: Ordoliberalism, the German Model and Economic Experiments in Eastern Germany after 1989,’ Journal of Sociology 54, no. 1 (2018).
Arbeitsgruppe Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik, Deutsche Zweiheit—Oder: Wie viel Unterschied verträgt die Einheit? Bilanz der Vereinigungspolitik (St Katharinen: PapyRossa, 2010).
Gil Eyal, Iván Szelényi, and Eleanor R. Townsley, Making Capitalism without Capitalists: Class Formation and Elite Struggles in Post-Communist Central Europe (London: Verso, 1998).
Gareth Dale, The East German Revolution of 1989 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006); First the Transition, Then the Crash: Eastern Europe in the 2000s (London: Pluto Press, 2011).
Der Paritätische Gesamtverband, Menschenwürde ist Menschenrecht: Bericht Zum Armutsentwicklung in Deutschland 2017 (Berlin: Der Paritätische Gesamtverband, 2017).
Brigitte Young, Triumph of the Fatherland: German Unification and the Marginalization of Women (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999).
Jonathan Olsen, ‘The Left Party and the AfD: Populist Competitors in Eastern Germany,’ German Politics and Society 36, no. 1 (2018).
On disenchantment, see Davies. On German’s ongoing division, see Ben Gook, Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-Unified Germany after 1989 (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015). On divided Germany’s reckoning with Nazism and the GDR’s founding fantasies, see Julia Hell, Post-Fascist Fantasies: Psychoanalysis, History, and the Literature of East Germany (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997).
Morris Cohen and C.B. Macpherson, ‘Property and Sovereignty’, Property: Mainstream and Critical Perspectives (University of Toronto Press, 1978).
Kevin Gray, ‘Property in Thin Air’, Cambridge Law Journal, 50 (1991), 252–307.
Kevin Gray, The Legal Order of the Queue, 2007.
James E. Penner, The Idea of Property in Law (Clarendon Press, 1997); Cohen and C.B. Macpherson.
Nicholas Blomley, ‘Law, Property, and the Geography of Violence: The Frontier, the Survey and the Grid’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93 (2003), 121–141.
Cohen and C.B. Macpherson.
Cheryl Harris, ‘Whiteness as Property’, Harvard Law Review, 106(8) (1993), 1721.
Aileen Moreton-Robinson, The White Possessive: Property, Power and Indigenous Sovereignty (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).
Ibid, Harris.
Davina Cooper, Governing Out of Order: Space, Law and the Politics of Belonging (Rivers Oram Press, 1998).
Emily Grabham, ‘”Flagging” the Skin: Corporeal Nationalism and the Properties of Belonging’, Body & Society, 15 (2009), 63–82.
Ibid, Cooper 629.
Ibid, Cooper 636.
Aileen Moreton-Robinson, ‘Imagining the Good Indige-nous Citizen’, Cultural Studies Review, 15(2), (2009), 61-80.
Here, there is a need to need to point towards – while refusing to appropriate – narratives of Aboriginal resistance to the settler state. A few key dates: In 1972, Aboriginal activists established the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Parliament House, the seat of government in Canberra, which carved out a physical, social and political space of belonging in the Australian capital until today, subverting the version of Australia that parliamentarians wish to portray to diplomatic visitors, and in constant struggle with the colonial state. In 1973 the White Australia policy, which had effectively barred non-European immigrants from moving to Australia, was disbanded with a series of legal amendments prohibiting racial discrimination from being formally included in immigration law. In 1976, following a ten-year strike by the Gurindji people, led by Vincent Lingiari, the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) became the first ever Australian law to ‘grant’ land rights to Aboriginal people. The lie of terra nullius remained part of Australian common law until it was overturned in Mabo v The State of Queensland in 1992; a later Labor government reneged on the promise of federal land rights, creating a post-Mabo legislative framework for ‘native title,’ as a weaker and more limited set of rights. See Andrew Schaap, Gary Foley and Edwina Howell, The Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Sovereignty, Black Power, Land Rights and the State (Routledge 2013).
Doreen Massey, ‘Power-geometry and a Progressive Sense of Place’, in Tim Putnam, Lisa Tickner, Jon Bird Barry Curtis (Eds.), Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change (Routledge, 1993).
Sarah Keenan, Subversive Property: Law and the Production of Spaces of Belonging (Routledge, 2015).
Glen Coulthard, Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (University of Minessota Press, 2014).
Ibid, Coulthard.
Matthis Berndt, Britta Grell, Andreas Holm et al, The Berlin Reader, (transcript, 2013), 14-15.
Dallas Rogers, The geopolitics of real estate : reconfiguring property, capital and rights (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016).
Sabrina Apicella et al, “In the eye of the storm. Urban Transformations in Berlin: Realities of Crisis and Perspectives for Social Struggles”, in Teaching the Crisis (Group research project, Summer school program, 2013). See also http://teachingthecrisis.net/in-the-eye-of-the-storm-urban-transformations-in-berlin-realities-of-crisis-and-perspectives-for-social-struggles/
‘German Democratic Republic’, NAA: A1838/272 30/1/3 Part 3, German Democratic Republic – Relations with Australia, 318.
‘German Democratic Republic’, NAA: A1838/272 30/1/3 Part 3, German Democratic Republic – Relations with Australia, 316.
Monteath and Munt, Red Professor, 275.