Schädel X (Trailer)

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Thousands of human skulls from all over the world are lying in the basements of German universities and museums. Many of them stem from the former colonies. Most of these skulls were unjustly taken from already buried bodies or from the corpses of killed "insurgents". These skulls were brought to Germany as trophies. In institutes of anthropology, scientists researched and examined the skulls in order to substantiate theories of race. With Rudolf von Virchow and Felix von Luschan, Berlin became the centre of the skull collectors.

100 years later, more and more demands are being made for the respectful handling of these skulls and their restitution to their descendants. Universities and museums are slowly starting  to look into their basements and at this dark chapter in their history. The first restitution of skulls to the Herero and Nama people in Namibia in 2011 turned into a diplomatic disaster. Research into the origins of the skulls is costly and complicated. Rarely can a skull be linked to a specific individual and questions remain as to whether research on the skulls is indeed a second debasement of these human remains.

A skull forms the centre of this lecture-performance. Two biographical stories revolve around it. They lead from Germany to Tanzania, across archives, consulates and battlefields, from colonial history to the present and into the skull of each audience member. With historical documents and sound files, they connect to a bizarre odyssey between science, politics and theatre.

Concept, Research & Performance Konradin Kunze
Director Sophia Stepf
Sound Design Andi Otto
Video Design Jürgen Salzmann
Technician Marcello Lussana
Production Management ehrliche arbeit - freies Kulturbüro
Interviews with Christina Helbig, Mnyaka Sururu Mboro, Isaria Anael Meli, Upendo Moshi & Gerhard Ziegenfuss

A Flinn Works Production in coproduction with Sophiensaele Berlin. Supported by Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V., Hessische Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst and Kulturamt der Stadt Kassel.

Sophiensaele Berlin (Kantine) 4 May 2016 (Opening) and 5-7 May /  20 h
Landesmuseum Hannover 5 November / 20 Uhr and 6 November / 18 h
at Tieranatomischen Theater / HU Berlin
15 June 2017 / 20.30 h (English)
16-17 June / 20.30 h
Museum für Sepulkralkultur Kassel 27 September 2017 / 21.15 h
Theater im G-Werk Marburg 3 November 2017 / 20 h
Kulturwerkwochen Schlüchtern 15 November 2017 / 20 h
Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg
16 January 2018 / 19.30 h (with discussion)
18 January 2018 / 18.30 h
In cooperation with Lichthof Theater. Supported by Rusch-Stiftung.
19 January 2018 / 19 h (with discussion)
21 January 2018 / 18 h
Supported by Heinrich Böll-Stiftung Bremen.

Schädel X by Flinn Works


"Atmosphärisch dichter Doku-Krimi mit durchaus komischen Elementen"
"Kunzes Performance knüpft an eine aktuelle Debatte an. Künstlerische Interventionen wie Schädel X zeigen: das Sammeln, Forschen und Ausstellen von Körpern war nicht nur prägend für das Verständnis der ‚unterlegenen Rassen‘, es machte die Wissenschaft und das Ausstellen zu einer dominanten Kulturtechnik in der Begegnung mit dem anderen."
"The soothing melodies of Skull X are inseparable from the tumult around it, embodied by both the intricate, irretrievable context of its acquisition and the resounding significance of its repatriation. Despite its leading white-male narrator, Schädel X passes on postcolonial pleas for indemnity and atonement that should be heard at last. After an hour and a half of thrilling investigation, we still don’t know where the skull comes from. At least, its deathlike aesthetic has now become familiar, human."