They want to learn German. They hitch-hike through Germany. They ask everyone the same question – »Was müsste ihre Meinung nach mal gesagt werden?« They learn the answers by heart.
This was Ant Hampton and Rita Pauls’s defiant and de-sanitised approach to integrating themselves, driven by a combination of urgency, curiosity, friendship, and history. Rita, from Argentina, is German but had no prior connection with the country. Ant, still British at the time of writing, wants to remain a European citizen.
Confronted by the question, people stammered, evaded, ranted, lamented and misunderstood. Like a record needle across the landscape, Ant and Rita picked up these voices along the roads, absorbed them over a 6 month period of learning and then practiced speaking them together, in sync, like music. With attention paid to the original breaths, hesitations and mistakes, Mund-Stück is a funny, moving and unsettling speech act offering a brutally honest perspective on assimilation into contemporary Germany.
British performance artist Ant Hampton’s work has since 1999 often involved guiding people through unrehearsed performance situations, exploring a tension between structural elements that are fixed and human experiences that must be lived and negotiated in the moment. Since 2007, this has included the audience with his Autoteatro series: around 10 pieces continue to tour worldwide in over 60 language versions. More recently he has been moving away from the idea of art as an autonomous space towards works exploring meaningful risk, real consequence and ways of changing or challenging oneself. Mund-Stück continues this thread, here with Ant including himself as subject for experimentation.
Rita Pauls (Argentina, 1993) studies literature and philosophy at Universidad de Buenos Aires. Besides roles in TV and film, as a performer she has worked internationally with performance makers (Federico León, Dora García, Dudú Quintanilha, among others) interested in language, the creation and invention of intimacy and a quest for non-controlled performative situations.
Running time: 60 min.
Concept, performance Ant Hampton, Rita Pauls Production management Livia Andrea Piazza, Ana Veiga Riscado Transcription, translation Britt Hatzius, Anna Galt