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Congratulations, FFT!

Congratulations! During the opening, Holger Bergmann congratulated FORUM FREIES THEATER on its new premises in the heart of Düsseldorf. You can read his speech here.

The FFT FORUM FREIES THEATER – this name has long been an invitation to the residents of the city of Düsseldorf, the art and theater lovers in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and to the nationwide and international theater and art world.

The FFT shows us that a forum in 2021 can no longer be thought of solely as a single place where art and viewers gather. A forum today is a multi-perspective gathering; it’s about juxtaposition, coexistence in parallel spaces and times. In translocal working and creative spaces of theater art, between digital worlds and real views and insights. It is always simultaneously connected to the perspectives of the whole (known and even more so unknown) world and to local perspectives. The FFT is consciously facing a glocal reality. Glocal – that's what science calls these symptoms or data traces of a global reality, which become visible and have increasing impact upon the local.

Kathrin Tiedemann as artistic director, together with dramaturg Christoph Rech and her entire team, has for many years also opened up perspectives into the wider world for artists and audiences alike from the basement of the Kammerspiele on Jahnstraße. And as much as the FFT team is – justifiably – looking forward to working in this place, this place can also look forward to the arrival of the FFT and its team, which will now transform into a twenty-first century performing arts forum.

The FFT is a place of transition: here transitions are created which move into a time that is both no longer and not yet. Giorgio Agamben describes it as "creative activity that, as an untimely critique of its present, seeks to transform it interpretatively".

The works here are rarely mere performances on the podium, with formats of the usual 90 or 120 minutes on stage followed, more often than not, by a white wine spritzer. Mushroom cultures grow for weeks at the FFT and spread their rhizomes in Flingern and other parts of the city. Here, Monika Gintersdorfer, Knut Klaßen and Franck Yao can create their well-traveled serial dance and performance evenings and She She Pop can open pigeonholes into which they did not want to put anyone. machina eX can intertwine virtual with real-spatial play and Ariel Ashbel, Subontnic, Malin de Hahn... it would take too long to name any more now — sorry.

This forum is a place of impulses, and not only in times of the Impulse Festival or the festival format Freischwimmen, which was co-founded here and presents outstanding newcomer works: many of the new groups from early on that showed their performances for the first time in Düsseldorf at "Freischwimmen" are now established performance and theater groups.

This is not the only reason why the Fonds Darstellende Künste brought about a whole series of residencies with the FFT. The #takecareresidencies provided stability for many Düsseldorf and national artists in the last few months; months which were so challenging for the independent arts. Kathrin, thank you for this commitment, which we will be able to continue in 2022 thanks to the continuation of Neustart Kultur.

And the FFT brings even more to KAP1: it creates a constant connection to Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Essen and Frankfurt and to the Bündnis internationaler Produktionshäuser (Alliance of International Production Houses). Within this alliance, or under its own steam, it in turn establishes connections with many places — also beyond the European continent. As a venue for the arts with a great network, this team in Düsseldorf is doing indispensable work for the further development of the performing arts, both aesthetically and in terms of content.

However, none of this would be possible if the city of Düsseldorf had not been financing and equipping this effective forum for many years and has now given it a new home base in these wonderful rooms. The state of NRW, which has been promoting this place and its work for many years, now has a new beacon at KAP1. A beacon that shines light in order to illuminate the many settings in between everyday life and what is staged.

It’s both creative and exciting. This new location appears to be just like the work of the FFT itself. The construction of a new theater is not a matter of course these days, is it?

The rooms here recognize the work of the FFT in a most wonderful way. They are also a recognition of your work and a commendation for the many, many artists who have passed through the FFT and who will now enliven KAP1. It’s also fantastic for the audience, who so often doesn’t just watch, but also helps to create. And last but not least, the FFT in KAP1 also shows the appreciation for, and establishment of a place for the performing arts.

In the heart of the city or in the heart’s flicker of glocal reality, it casts a glow. In the midst of society’s “sculpted central station environment”, which throws its everyday, social reality – that of people rummaging through the waste alongside others with orange Louis Vuitton shopping bags – relentlessly at us as we scramble to keep up with our smartphone feeds.

What a view from this magnificent non-theater foyer! A perspective that asks us about the nature of art in relation to freedom and social responsibility: in times of a digital, diverse society that is struggling with its climate, both social and meteorological. No, it’s not a window to the Rhine, but looks out onto the flow of the present and its people. What could we need more urgently than such a forum for negotiation, contentious discourse and art? Use your time here, these windows want to say, change the view, change the way you look, create perspectives, do useless things and give away your time, as you have always done – use art to create a space to change the world, a place where the people who come here can be themselves.

Good luck and continue to "create good things" in the many years to come — here in Düsseldorf at the main station and in the wide surrounding area!

Script of Holger Bergmann’s keynote speech at the opening of KAP1 on November 6, 2021 in Düsseldorf.