Two Minutes of Standstill
By Yael Bartana
Cologne, 28 June 2013, 11 am

26 April 2013

Commissioned work

A city comes to a standstill. People get up, stop, fall silent. Lessons are interrupted in schools and universities, the shop owner stops selling, assembly lines in factories come to a halt.

Artist Yael Bartana calls all citizens of Cologne for a symbolic interruption of everyday life: on 28 June 2013 at 11 am. Stop and think!

Inspired by the Israeli memorial day Yom HaShoah, the holiday to commemorate the victims and resistance fighters of the Holocaust, “Two Minutes of Standstill” is a political act, a social sculpture, and a collective performance in the city of Cologne.

“Two Minutes of Standstill” calls upon us all to reflect on the present. To pause and think about the history and our future. About what it means to be German today, what it means to live in Germany as an immigrant, what the consequences of the Holocaust and its instrumentalisation are today.
Because the Third Reich and the Holocaust are not just historical events – they also have long-term global chain effects that reach into the present day. Not only is the founding of the State of Israel based on a UN-decision such a consequence, but so is the Palestinian “Nakba” in 1948. As are escape and expulsion in Europe and the Middle East up to the NSU murders, whose perpetrators clearly and unmistakably understand themselves in the tradition of the NS regime, and whose crimes have the goal of extinguishing all “aliens” from German society. This history is written, but the future depends on our acting.
And so, “Two Minutes of Standstill” is not only commemoration and performance but also a challenge to change the present. It is a proposal for a wide-reaching debate in Cologne and beyond, about what active remembering should look like today. A day of protest against violence and injustice today and tomorrow.

Using the title “Under the Influence,” the Impulse will examine the meaning of cultural identities, pose the question of the properties specific to theater in the German-speaking world, and reassess the idea of a national culture. In this context, “Two Minutes of Standstill” is a political and societal event and a social sculpture, a performance that is inscribed into the public realm. It is a ritual as well as a public discourse.

The goal of Yael Bartana’s (documenta 12, 7th Berlin Biennial, Sao Paolo Biennial 2006 & 2010, Biennial di Venezia 2011 and many more) project is to establish a memorial day in Cologne through discussions with political and other institutions, industry and trade, and with people in the region.

A project by Impulse Theater Biennale 2013, funded by the Academy of The Arts of the World, Cologne.