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.