The work of Julian Hetzel (Germany, 1981) is well thought-out, provocative, committed and accessible. It operates at the intersection of theatre, performance, media, music and visual art and combines strong political undertones with crystal-clear formal choices and a dry sense of humour. Hetzel often works from a documentary approach, and likes to explode common theatrical situations in his productions.
Julian Hetzel’s productions and performances are produced and presented internationally. In 2017, he received the VSCD-Mimeprijs award for The Automated Sniper. His lecture/performance SELF was recently selected by Platform Scenography as the Dutch entry for the Prague Quadrennial 2019.
In the international co-production The Automated Sniper (Frascati Producties in co-production with WEB and Ism & Heit), two performers are fired on using an automatic weapon by delegates from the audience, and remotely from the Middle East. Their performance on the art of warfare is literally shot to pieces and culminates in a choreography on the gamification of violence. The jury called this a “convincing performance that makes the meaning of war palpable while presenting an exceptional ode to the power (to survive) of and need for art.”
In the autumn of 2018, Hetzel followed up his critical research into warfare with the international co-production All Inclusive (Campo and Frascati Producties), which focuses on creation through the structure, construction and explosive power of images of war. While the destruction of monuments and iconic images, as we have seen for example in Iraq and Syria, is used as a tool of strategic warfare, the museum has become an extension of the battlefield. The aesthetization of violence is made visible and translated into products. But what if these souvenirs turn out actually to be trophies? All Inclusive places art alongside war, tourists alongside refugees, and links reality to imagination during a tour of a temporary exhibition space. The audience are invited to take a look at a visit to a museum where reality fights back.
In his recent lecture performance SELF (Frascati Producties / Julian Hetzel / Campo (BE) 2019), Julian Hetzel sets out his visionary concept ‘SELF – Human Soap’. From human being to human being: fatty tissue obtained from cosmetic surgery and made into soap – then transformed into art. SELF takes this transformation as the basis for a sustainable economic production chain and asks questions of the social responsibility of big companies and the ‘upcycling’ of debt. At the same time, SELF explores new ways in which performance can play a role in interaction with economics, charity and politics.
For Frascati Producties, Hetzel previously created an adaptation of his graduation production from the DasArts Master’s courts at the AHK, I’m not here says the void (2013). In this energetic work, two men enthusiastically destroy a sofa, while discussing the conventions of masculinity. This production was performed as part of Fraslab and toured several international venues.
While still studying, Hetzel stood out with the provocative production The Benefactor (2011), based on the words of Dutch politician Frits Bolkenstein during the ‘De Schreeuw om Cultuur’ (‘Cry for Culture’) protests, when he suggested financing the arts from the budget for development aid. At the SPRING Festival Utrecht, Hetzel then created the installation performance STILL – The Economy of Waiting (2014) and Sculpting Fear (2015). Both performances investigated public space and the city as stage. A year later, he followed this up with the impressive Schuldfabrik, an enthusiastically received performance installation about soap made from human fat.
Julian Hetzel studied visual communication at the Bauhaus University Weimar, then relocated to Amsterdam to continue his education on the master’s course of the AHK DasArts. During these studies, he stood out with hotly debated performances such as PrENTER (2008), which was shown at the ARS Electronica festival 2008 in Linz, and The Benefactor (2011). In 2016 he set up Ism & Heit as a structure for the development of his artistic work, from a base in Utrecht. For Frascati Producties, he created an adaptation of his graduation show I’m Not Here, Says The Void and in 2017 The Automated Sniper. Hetzel is now also a frequently seen guest at international festivals. From 2018, he has been an associated artist with the CAMPO arts centre in Ghent. Julian Hetzel is also the founder and drummer of the band Pentatones. For Frascati Producties, he created an adaptation of his graduation production I’m Not Here, Says The Void, The Automated Sniper (with Ism & Heit), All Inclusive (with CAMPO) and SELF (with CAMPO).