Par­la­ment der Din­ge, Tie­re, Pflan­zen und Algo­rith­men (Par­lia­ment of things, ani­mals, plants and algorithms)

Thea­ter as agi­li­ty park

Maga­zi­ne for the first issue (2019) of «Par­la­ment der Din­ge, Tie­re, Pflan­zen und Algo­rith­men: Thea­ter als Taubenschlag»:

How we beca­me the cross-spe­ci­es company

what has hap­pen­ed so far

After the first edi­ti­on of “Par­lia­ment of Things, Ani­mals, Plants and Algo­rith­ms” in fall 2019 at Neu­markt Zurich, we built a cross-spe­ci­es stu­dio for our­sel­ves and the pigeons in the attic of Jonas’ apart­ment in Basel. We left the pigeons in the­re for two weeks so they could get used to the new place. Then we ope­ned the flap — and they were gone. Some­thing in the com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on did­n’t work, we think, but we also think that can be chan­ged. We want to prac­ti­ce com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on with pigeons, non-ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, which the pigeons are alrea­dy good at, but we are not yet. For this we need a trai­ning field, we are thin­king of an agi­li­ty park whe­re dog and human rela­te. But just not for dogs but for pigeons and peop­le. That’s why we are now doing the fol­lowing: the Neu­markt is joi­ning in again and that makes us ins­a­nely hap­py and so we are buil­ding a pigeon agi­li­ty park in the Chor­gas­se, whe­re humans and pigeons can prac­ti­ce a respon­si­ble coexis­tence.
With the help of the agi­li­ty park and five new pigeons, we are once again try­ing to beco­me a cross-spe­ci­es com­pa­ny. Com­pa­ny from “cum panis”, with bread, as Don­na Hara­way wri­tes, mess­ma­tes at table are com­pa­n­ions. The pigeons, Jonas and I share our joint­ly ear­ned bread. And off we go!

Day 1

The first edi­ti­on was held with city pigeons. We think the move to Basel was too stress­ful for them. That is why we now need pigeons that are accus­to­med to chan­ge of loca­ti­on. We want to take them on guest per­for­man­ces. We ask our accom­pli­ce and pigeon fan­cier Hans Ganz Bitsch for advice. He recom­mends us five Greek Wuta. They are robust and used to chan­ge of loca­ti­on. Hans Ganz Bitsch flew cham­pions­hips with them, tra­v­eled all over Euro­pe. Our pigeons were Euro­pean cham­pions, he tells us, yeah, we think, and that makes us proud. To what, actual­ly? Any­way, it’s also that Hans Gans Bitsch can’t use the five any­mo­re, they are too old and he has too many males. He says, I have to pinch them. Pin­ching is a euphe­mism for kil­ling pigeons. And that’s whe­re we come in, we think such an offer comes in han­dy, the pigeons can fly into a box, they must be able to if we want to go to guest per­for­man­ces with them. One bag of feed per pigeon, wants Hans Gans Bitsch, a total of 80, -, a pigeon he gives us in addi­ti­on, a Drop­per. and what the Drop­per does so, more about that later. So we pick up the­se five dis­car­ded males in Ror­bas. A pigeon is mis­sing a pie­ce of foot, I noti­ce, but Hans Gans Bitsch shows me his hand. He is also mis­sing a fin­ger, which is not so bad. And so we bring them by post­bus and train to our pigeon agi­li­ty park on Chor­gas­se. The five are still a bit shy but we think they like the Chor­gas­se and so we start clea­ning but also prac­ti­cing cho­reo­gra­phies, they watch us and shit just past our heads. Jonas says they only shit when the ten­si­on lets go and so I do my best to play decent­ly and keep the tension.

Day 2

What the pigeon fan­cier men­tio­ned yes­ter­day rather casual­ly at the fare­well: only two of the five pigeons are Euro­pean cham­pions, which means, only tho­se who are Euro­pean cham­pions can fly into a box. Being able to fly into a box is important, very important, vital for our Com­pa­ny. Only tho­se who can fly into a box are fit for a guest per­for­mance. Ima­gi­ne we go on a guest per­for­mance and the doves want to stay at the Süd­pol, the Gess­ne­ral­lee, the Helm­haus or the Thea­ter Basel. That would be our ruin, end, out, it was nice with you. We would never get the pigeons out of the Süd­pol, 10 years they would stay the­re and the Süd­pol would be allo­wed to play any future show with pigeons. I do not even want to think about it, so: food is only for the one who flies into the box, bas­tà. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, this is not so easy. Oh, oh, oh, it breaks our hearts, now just don’t beco­me incon­sis­tent, stay tough, fol­low through, look the other way. Tho­se who have not yet lear­ned, watch tho­se who alrea­dy have. that is good and for­tu­n­a­te­ly the­re are bath­tubs, Anne Lin­ke thought of them and Cris­tia­no Remo from Neu­markt wel­ded them. Some­what hungry, the pigeons dis­co­ver bat­hing and enjoy the water. They are the best and most beau­ti­ful pigeon bath­tubs ever.

Day 4

In ‘When Spe­ci­es Meet’ Don­na Hara­way wri­tes that only 10% of all the cells that make me up are genui­nely human, the others belong to the fun­ny head lou­se, the cor­ro­si­ve fun­gus that has made its­elf com­for­ta­ble some­whe­re or the toma­to over which hor­des of vor­a­cious intes­ti­nal bac­te­ria are feas­ting. Based on this image, we cast our com­pa­ny tog­e­ther, almost 90% pigeons and a litt­le bit of peop­le. But serious­ly now, you pigeons, you are many and we, we are qui­te stres­sed. Would you mind thin­king a litt­le more for the big pic­tu­re? That would be so nice. The­re is still so much to do befo­re the ope­ning on Satur­day.
In the pic­tu­re I try to look calm, but it is not like that at all, becau­se four of the pigeons are fee­ding in the box, they are not visi­ble in the pic­tu­re but the one that is visi­ble does not want to find the hole.

Day 5

Pigeon feet, vel­ve­ty and warm on the hand, stomp, back and forth, pick, pick, why are they so ner­vous? And the head first, back and forth, once tur­ned, almost all around, I almost feel sick. How do you think it feels insi­de a pigeon’s head like that? And how does it see me? How slow, slug­gish and pon­de­rous she is, the pigeon surely thinks. One pushes ano­t­her asi­de with its wings so that it gets more food and tou­ches my fore­arm, fea­thers on the skin, that is real­ly nice. When they pick from my hand, they do so care­ful­ly, I think, one is cocky, grabs my fin­ger, pulls on it. Hey, pigeon, this one belongs to me, care­ful­ly I pull back my fin­ger and try to play with her, it does­n’t qui­te work yet.
The nicest thing today: all of them were in the flight box. Feed on the hand, hand to the hole, hand almost into the box, the head of the pigeon goes after the hand, deeper and deeper into the hole and plop, pigeon is in the box. How hap­py I was.

Day 6

This Satur­day is the ope­ning. How am I sup­po­sed to con­cen­tra­te with shit rai­ning down next to me, plea­se? Who’s going to clean all that? Yes, that’s what you have to deal with if you want to beco­me a cross-spe­ci­es com­pa­ny. Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on with the non-human is a tough place, Andy Hug (the late world kick­boxing cham­pion) would have said here, we know that not only sin­ce Coro­na. Not ever­yo­ne can com­mu­ni­ca­te across spe­ci­es, a lot has gone wrong, a lot of misun­derstan­ding, disap­point­ment and inju­ry, the under­ta­king must be approa­ched gent­ly, a lot must be unlear­ned and relear­ned. A trai­ning field is nee­ded, an agi­li­ty park. Ta-daaaa!!! Wel­co­me to Thea­ter as Agi­li­ty Park.
Come by and you’ll see what we do all day long in our yel­low and oran­ge agi­li­ty park cage. Reser­ve a ticket quick­ly, the­re is limi­ted space. Admis­si­on from 3 pm on the hour. We miss and love you deeply gurr gurr fore­ver and ever and gree­tings from the pigeon shit that is beco­m­ing more and more, heeeeelp!

Day 7

Danie­le Muscio­ni­cos wri­tes in the NZZ: This house @Neumarkt Zurich is also a pigeon­ry. The Zurich city pigeon was cal­led Iris and was named after the femi­nist Iris von Roten. A year ago she was the diva in one of Zurich’s most unusu­al thea­ter spaces, a veri­ta­ble dovecote instal­led by Serai­na Dür and Jonas Gill­mann at Chor­gas­se 5. Tho­se who mis­sed it now have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the new edi­ti­on of their “Par­lia­ment of Things, Ani­mals, Plants and Algo­rith­ms” at the Thea­ter Neu­markt. And it’s worth it. For it is a vaca­ti­on for the mind to reflect in a small group, through the lite­ra­tures of Lynn Mar­gu­lis, Annie Sprink­le, or Don­na Hara­way, on the rela­ti­ons­hip to the non-human and on a world­view other than the anthropo­centric one. For examp­le, about the view of Iris on us, that win­ged inspi­ring citi­zen of Zurich. This Sep­tem­ber she may be cal­led Ali­ce and will be black fea­the­red.
Et voi­là Danie­le Muscio­ni­co, we introduce:

Day 8

Toi, toi, toi and wel­co­me to the ensem­ble dear doves! This was writ­ten on a nap­kin, wrap­ped in it a pie­ce of bread, the gift for the ope­ning of “Thea­ter als Agi­li­ty­p­ark” from the Thea­ter Neu­markt direc­tors. Joy, joy, flut­ter, flut­ter. I’m sure the brown pigeon in the midd­le, the for­mer Euro­pean cham­pion who loves to be in the spot­light so much, will have pecked away the soft part by tomor­row and greet us with a sty­lish bread col­lar, the latest cra­ze in the pigeon sce­ne!
What a beau­ti­ful-joy­ful-stir­ring ope­ning yes­ter­day, thank you to ever­yo­ne who was the­re and joi­ned us in loo­king for new com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on skills for our agi­li­ty park. We’­re going to take a very short break now!

Day 11

Invi­ta­ti­on to the first ‘Pigeon Rea­ding Group’, today, 8 p.m. at Chor­gas­se 5. We will read ‘The Sym­bio­tic Pla­net’ by the won­der­ful Lynn Mar­gu­lis, who wri­tes that evo­lu­ti­on once occur­red bil­li­ons of years ago and still occurs not in war of all against all, but through coope­ra­ti­on and sym­bio­sis. It was bac­te­ria that did sym­bio­ge­ne­sis tog­e­ther and thus beca­me the first cells. To tho­se of the dan­de­li­on, the dove, the kefir that we will drink while rea­ding, and to ours. This is exci­ting, for this you need no pre­pa­ra­ti­on, no pre­vious know­ledge but the­re are only a few pla­ces, so book quick­ly who wants to be the­re. We look for­ward to see­ing Lynn Mar­gu­lis and to see­ing you.

Day 14

Slow­ly I think I under­stand, the pigeons, Jonas and I have to unlearn a lot, so that we can do some­thing tog­e­ther. We wan­ted pigeons that, unli­ke the city pigeons last year, can alrea­dy do some­thing so that when we have to lea­ve Chor­gas­se at the end of Octo­ber, they don’t fly away from us again and yes, the­se pigeons can now fly into a flight box, which means we are now fit to tra­vel. They sit on their favo­ri­te perch, fly to the box, hop into the hole, regard­less of whe­ther the­re is food in it or not, hop out again and back to the perch and do this all day long in a loop. We made them a nice pigeon bath but they do not bathe, but we know that pigeons love bat­hing. We think that sport pigeons have not lear­ned to bathe, they can sit quiet­ly on the perch for a long time, fly mad­ly fast from the sky into the box on com­mand, and do real­ly well the things that man asks them to do if they get food for it. When food is in the box, the jost­ling starts, who can push the others asi­de with the wings to get the most, that’s what the flight box does. Is that what we want? We want to tra­vel with them and that’s why the box is important but we also want to have a respon­si­ble inter­ac­tion in our com­pa­ny, we want to prac­ti­ce in a rela­ti­ons­hip that is not only based on con­di­tio­ning and domi­nan­ce. For my part, I can do real­ly well what is requi­red of me to be loved. And now? The pigeons bring with them that they are sports pigeons, that they fly on com­mand and hop back into the box We bring with us that we can enter­tain. Also je ver­ler­nen wir jetzt. And yes dear doves, what do we want to rehe­ar­se together?

Day 15

For them to unlearn that the­re is only food in the flight box, for me to unlearn to keep con­trol of the situa­ti­on, that was on the rehe­ar­sal sche­du­le today. In the pro­cess, the pink rub­ber gloves beca­me our toy and that’s what hap­pen­ed: Actual­ly, the gloves are the­re to clean away pigeon shit, I kept them on a litt­le lon­ger today, I wan­ted to know how it is when pigeon beaks peck through rub­ber on skin. And it beca­me some­thing like a joint game, they tug­ged with their beaks on the glove, one grab­bed the rub­ber, loo­ked at me brief­ly, only very brief­ly and then let it go, a light clamp on the skin, hey! I want to call and rejoice.

Day 17

Food! To the table! We share por­ridge for lunch and prac­ti­ce to beco­me Com­pa­n­ions, it is never rela­xed but qui­te agi­ta­ting, we play who eats the por­ridge the fas­test. I try my best but they are miles ahead of me.

Day 21

Pull on rub­ber gloves until the rub­ber tears, pigeon feet in sli­me and see if that pulls strings, Jonas back as a seat, the food cup over the head, my hands to the carou­sel, Jonas fin­gers in the beak and pull it until he pulls it away laug­hing, our feet as an obsta­cle cour­se and my pocket as the goal of the tre­a­su­re hunt, I had for­got­ten a few grains in it. If that’s not clas­sic pigeon agi­li­ty.
With that in mind, in the second install­ment of the Pigeon Rea­ding Group, we’ll read trai­ning sto­ries from The Com­pa­n­ion Mani­festo by Don­na Hara­way, at 8 p.m. at 5 Chorgasse.

Day 22

And more pigeon agi­li­ty: From the perch to the clim­bing frame, then onto Jonas’ back, balan­cing without slip­ping, the litt­le seagull loves to do that. The litt­le seagull, the White, is an aging wed­ding dove that has been reti­red, we were told that the wed­ding dove busi­ness has not flou­ris­hed sin­ce Coro­na. This is our luck, the litt­le gull is a real agi­li­ty-ace. Also enthu­si­astic about the mat­ter is the gray-black, we call her cat, she purrs as soon as she sees food. If she purrs just like that and it hap­pens by chan­ce when she sits on my back, it works bet­ter than any hot-stone-ayur­we­da-well­ness-some­thing. I know it exact­ly, Grey-Black imi­ta­tes the neighbor’s cat that visits us regu­lar­ly in Chor­gas­se.
Tomor­row at 7 pm we are guests at Süd­pol Luzern as part of m2act.

Day 24

Yes­ter­day we were on guest per­for­mance, in the Süd­pol Luzern for m2act. Our first one as a cross-spe­ci­es com­pa­ny. That means: slee­p­less nights, a lot of orga­niz­a­ti­on for when ever­ything turns out qui­te dif­fer­ent­ly than expec­ted, what if the pigeons don’t fly into the box, what if we never get out of Süd­pol again? 9:45 in the Chor­gas­se, we rust­le the food, the pigeons fly hap­pi­ly into the box. We dis­mant­le the fly­ing pole, table, clim­bing frame and take good care that the shit trail on the mats stays nice during trans­port. Then the pigeons into the hold, no, cer­tain­ly not, they have to be in the front on our laps and off we go. 1pm at the South Pole, sprea­ding shit to make it look like they just shit the­re. 4 pm, the pigeons fly into the rick, crap, how to play with the pigeon that sits at 6 meters high and shits down from time to time? 18:30 just befo­re the start of the show they come to the fly­ing pole, how now? And they play along. 20 o’clock all fly hap­pi­ly into the box, the show is now over, sit­ting on our laps, the pigeons and we dri­ve on the auto­bahn A4 back to Neu­markt. We can per­form on guest per­for­man­ces, dear doves and dear peop­le this is a gre­at joy!

Day 25

I call the pigeon bree­der Hans Ganz Bitsch in Ror­bas and ask if we can take the pigeons to the field tomor­row. In the field you go with pigeons to let them fly the­re. To the field? Now? In autumn, win­ter? No, I would­n’t. The migra­to­ry birds are gone. The birds of prey are hungry, so the roas­ted pigeons fly into their mouths, says Hans Ganz Bitsch. Wait until spring comes, mean­while go with them in halls. I think he’s thin­king of high cei­lings, big thea­ters, that’s whe­re the pigeons want to go, that’s whe­re they want to fly, that’s what makes the pigeons hap­py and the big thea­ters hap­py, I’m sure. And we con­ti­nue with our indoor pigeon agi­li­ty trai­ning and look for­ward to spring, the field and migra­to­ry birds.

Day 28

The doves are asleep, the séan­ce with Vre­ni Spies­ser begins, Vre­ni says we con­nect with the doves in sleep, why don’t you sleep with the doves, visi­tors ask us, right­ly so, so we sleep with the doves after the séan­ce, they sleep in their favo­ri­te sea­ting arran­ge­ment, pre­fer­a­b­ly on one leg, some­ti­mes one wakes up, cleans its fea­thers, opens one eye, snee­zes, clo­ses the other, dozes off, I do it like the pigeon, count the cheer­ful hours only… or how did it go again? or I do it like the pigeon, I think of the fee­ling when I flew as a child in a dream through the house of my par­ents, I know how fly­ing feels in the body, I knew it befo­re I ever did, whe­re does the know­ledge come from, in the morning then rather rude­ly awa­ke­ned by scratchy pigeon feet on head and face.

Day 31

Theo­dor W. Ador­no once wro­te: “My dea­rest Ber­tolt, how do you think you are doing in the­se stir­ring times? (He credi­ted Ber­tolt Brecht.) I’m a bit despe­ra­te right now, I have to admit honest­ly, and I don’t know whe­re my head is any­mo­re, let alo­ne my feet. What I do know is that cul­tu­re is a palace of pigeon shit, or should I wri­te dog shit at this point? Which do you think is more appro­pria­te dear Ber­tolt? Pigeon shit is much more appro­pria­te here, dear Theo­dor, becau­se I see it the same way you do. That’s why our com­pa­ny inclu­des 2000 com­post worms that pro­cess all the shit. And now to Don­na Hara­way who­se Mani­festo for Com­pa­n­ions we read tomor­row at the third edi­ti­on of the Pigeon Rea­ding Group. Hara­way does French kis­sing with her dog Cayenne and I do French kis­sing with the dove named Cat and with the dis­car­ded wed­ding dove. And they’­re real­ly good at it, serious­ly. During the trans­fer of sali­va, not only viru­ses, bac­te­ria, etc. are exch­an­ged, but also gene­tic infor­ma­ti­on. Pas­sing on gene­tic infor­ma­ti­on without sex. “Now that’s sym­bio­ge­ne­sis as I’ve always ima­gi­ned it” Lynn Mar­gu­lis would say at the point, we’­re showing the film “Sym­bio­tic Earth” about this won­der­ful sci­en­tist next Wed­nes­day.
And tomor­row we read about dogs making love and we tell about making love with pigeons, but now it’s over, we love you, you worms, pigeons and peop­le, we have never been alo­ne but you know that for a long time.

Day 34

Der­niè­re in the Chor­gas­se, thank you Thea­ter Neu­markt for the time with you, it was nice, a visi­tor says, thank you for the pro­xi­mi­ty to the pigeons, your pigeons look very dif­fe­rent from city pigeons, I think that is also due to the good light the Mar­tin has hung and the good food of cour­se and the thea­ter space also. a guy wan­ted to medi­ta­te at and with the pigeons. a woman wan­ted to take the pigeon home and ano­t­her said, we should french kiss with the pigeons. unli­ke small cats and dogs, he said, which are licked by their par­ents and the­re­fo­re later like to be stro­ked, the pigeons do not like that, becau­se the pigeons are stuck from an ear­ly age a beak in the throat, hence the idea with the tongue kis­sing, yes, may­be he’s right, they real­ly do not want to be stro­ked the pigeons. And are we the cross-spe­ci­es com­pa­ny now? The ran­ger of the city of Zurich says he does not like pigeons, he says for all domestic ani­mals (our pigeons are bree­ding pigeons and the­re­fo­re domestic ani­mals) the­re are kee­ping regu­la­ti­ons, only not for pigeons, which real­ly nobo­dy likes, I think, except a few bree­ders and among them may­be just one fema­le bree­der and two artists who found a thea­ter com­pa­ny tog­e­ther with pigeons and still Anne Lin­ke, who stands up for pigeon-friend­ly archi­tec­tu­re in the city. Media con­fe­rence of the Federal Coun­cil, we can con­ti­nue to work. when is the lock­down com­ing? sleep stays away, catching pigeons, we move to the Gess­ne­ral­lee for two weeks, read into ‘the root of the world’ by Ema­nue­le Coc­cia, that always hel­ps. He wri­tes about plants and about our ent­an­gle­ment in the world. Through breat­hing, the air beco­mes what is con­tai­ned in us, and con­ver­se­ly, what was con­tai­ned in us beco­mes what con­tains us thanks to the plants and they are always in the same place. let me do it like the plant. i think of a line from a poem by Eve­li­ne Has­ler for her sick sis­ter, my mother, she wro­te: whe­re­ver your body may be, we are con­nec­ted through breath.

Pho­tos: Anne Linke