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Black and White and Red All Over charts a course through the varied forms of political theatre from the first half of the twentieth century. From the Soviet Proletkult theatre of the 1920s to the agitprops of 1930s Europe, through to the socialist, anarchist, and union-run theatre troupes in the Americas and European colonies, the project aims to shed light on some of the dynamic ways in which theatre, through its coalescing of fictional and factual material, has informed, or infected, radical and revolutionary consciousness.

"As part of my proposed endeavor to directly translate the research into ‘exhibitable’ materials, I have illustrated my way through Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Owen Hatherley’s The Chaplin Machine, drawing out critical details, passages and processes. I have also been watching documentaries on the Chicago stockyards at the turn of the century, and gaining a better understanding of how the Taylorist-dominated American industrial machine became so alluring to the Soviets, who sought (and ultimately failed) to achieve the same kind of output and efficiency while still retaining some measure of worker dignity.  

Via Hatherley’s book I have dipped back into Walter Benjamin’s writings on ‘the eccentric’ and the eccentric vein in early Soviet avant-garde theatre and cinema. The Eccentrics were heavily influenced by the slapstick comedies and Disney animations of the period, and were effectively attempting to manufacture the new satire for a new social and political system, what Trotsky had brilliantly termed ‘the new stupidity’. This has led me to contemplate, as a conceptual starting point, a satirical adaptation of The Jungle as if produced by Eccentrics, one which turns the stockyards into a grotesque carnival, replete with sideshows, rides, and musical and dance reviews."

Marina Otero Verzier
Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Katia Truijen, Marten Kuijpers, Anastasia Kubrak
k.truijen@hetnieuweinstituut.nl
Alex Walker