MUNICH BIENNALE 2022
“Amigos para siempre” sang Sarah Brightman and José Carreras back in 1992 at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Barcelona – “friends for life”. That’s the fairy tale, the romantic hope, that good friends are more important for social life than family or partners. Unlike family, you choose your friends, and they still remain after relationships have failed.
Friendship exists in many correlations. Besides school friends, best friends and Facebook friends, there is also much talk of cronyism and “chumocracy”, and somewhere along the line the term takes on just the opposite meaning. Friends and their behaviour can cause more harm than a complete stranger can. The expectations associated with friendship make it susceptible to great disappointment and violation. Talk of friendship must be especially critical amongst such abstract constructs as states, nations, or peoples – and yet it is spoken of so readily in this context. In the case of France and Germany, rival neighbours and archenemies became friendly nations. But isn’t it precisely in such a supposedly friendly relationship between two countries that an unequal balance of power is to be found? Doesn’t the friendly gesture here essentially contain a patriarchal embrace, a tangible economic interest? Shouldn’t friendship be based on impartiality and altruism?
The theme “Good Friends” explores an almost sarcastic ambiguity in which the highlighting of “good” friendship becomes a bone-crushing embrace.
The Munich Biennale, international festival of new music theatre, has invited composers and authors from eight nations to contemplate both personal and political friendships, allies and supersized “friends”, and to strike alliances and bonds in the mutual creative process. For it wasn’t just Brightman and Carreras who clothed their friendship fantasies in music. In the same way that humanity, from its very origins, transformed its longings and fears about closeness and alienation into Minnesang, ballads, folk tunes, odes, songs, arias, duets, choruses, and hymns, we are entirely optimistic that our fourth edition of the Munich Biennale will be a rather ideal breeding ground for artistic research on “good friends” in the year 2022.
Daniel Ott and Manos Tsangaris