Cuddling with Germans
Concept: Andreas Liebmann
Performance and Realization: Andreas Liebmann und Marcel Schwald
Sets & Costumes: Gabriela Neubauer
Production Gessnerallee Zürich Spring /
Summer 2010, Guest performances and new version June 2011 at Südpol Lucerne
text example 1
text example 2
“Mostly, the Germans are racists. They don’t even have any foreigners there, do they? I can’t take that nonsense any more, that we hate foreigners. Don’t make me cry! The poor Germans, and so on, just go to Germany! You know, they have almost no foreigners there, percentage-wise, do they! So don’t tell me – all that crap – I’d say… we have thirty percent foreigners! And that’s okay! I have no problem with that! But I have a problem with people who pretend that we have to do more. No, we don’t, not at all! We just have to call things by their names! What are the facts! But of course I can’t do anything against that. So now it’s thirty percent foreigners, and I think that’s okay. I’m annoyed when there are so many Germans at the Letten. That gets on my nerves! It pisses me off! It annoys me! I won’t come here anymore. I live next to Letten, so to speak. I can go at other places. I know Germany. They don´t have places like that. I don’t want to reprove them! I can rent out other boats too. We make our living off the Germans! But they are the most unpleasant! „Can I have another latte macchiato?” – always they need special attention! No, we don’t have any latte macchiatos!”
(Interview with a bicyclist, slightly abbreviated)
“The Germanic tribes slowly got used to crossing the Rhine and entering Gaul in great numbers. As Caesar saw, this was a danger for the Roman people.”
(From: Commentaries on the Gallic War, by Julius Caesar)
We really have hard times
Given the excessive media discourse on Germans in Switzerland and especially in Zurich, we decided to approach this topic very directly and in a playful manner, on the street.
We cuddled with passers-by in a bed on the street, discussing with them their experiences and opinions on the relationship between Swiss and Germans. In bed, we also read to them from Julius Caesar’s Gallic War (see above). We also got in touch with the “German Club Zurich” and invited conversation partners from the club or contact-happy passers-by to tour cuddle room at Gessnerallee, where we showed an intensification of our street activities, texts and interviews, continuing the discussion with the theater’s visitors. Incidentally, our most interesting guest was a Pakistani lady who was able to describe with great accuracy and humor differences between Swiss and German people from her perspective, comparing their relationship with that of Muslims and Christians in Pakistan.
A preliminary version of the performance presented at Gessnerallee took place in the apartment of a German which we had outfitted as a cuddle-lounge.
For the Südpol in Lucerne, I adapted the final performance, changing the dramaturgy and adding some new elements, for example a speed-dating session among the audience members in order to elucidate the reasons for our problematic relationship with the Germans, following statements made by a psychotherapist with whom I had cuddled. In the case of some audience members, this speed-dating session extended half an hour beyond the end of the performance.
The work in Zurich is documented relatively extensively on www.benehmteuchkeineangstwirsindsnur.ch, featuring photographs, texts and several press reactions.