Point of NEW Return – the 17th Munich Biennale was scheduled to start with this theme on May 15, 2020. The only global festival of world premieres of contemporary music theater works, organized by the City of Munich, had big plans this year: to reflect the desolate condition of our global community, to engage in discussions, pose questions, search for resources. A fundamental consideration during the planning of the program was: Does it need radical dystopic approaches or a new principle of hope? No one could suspect a few months ago that this question in particular would now be so adamantly hanging in the air.
Now the approach of the Biennale 2020’s program is even more topical and pressing: “We conjure up the enormous energy and also art’s special responsibility to ignite and perpetuate public discussions,” explained the artistic directors Manos Tsangaris and Daniel Ott at the press conference in November 2019. Today this premise reads like a prophecy.
The participating artists cannot rehearse and travel as planned; they are from, among other countries, Australia; Belgium; Greece; Israel; Korea; Kosovo; the Netherlands; Austria; Switzerland; Senegal, Spain; Hungary; the U.S.; and Germany. They all wanted to bring along with them their perspective of the world. Many “NEW returns” are now being produced quicker and more unexpectedly than previously thought. Due to the omnipresent effects of the corona pandemic, for the first time the Munich Biennale 2020 will become a “dynamic festival.” World premieres that cannot be performed in May 2020 in Munich due to the pandemic will celebrate their premieres elsewhere, or in Munich at a different date.
The Munich Biennale will not stream any substitute performances of works. It will not be completely online. It will use the internet primarily in order to provide impulses for subsequent, physically real performance situations. We assume that over the course of the next eighteen months many of the productions scheduled for the Biennale 2020 will see the light of day.
In every existential crisis the arts were a decisive moment of renewal, of rethinking, of reflection, of awakening, of change, of a NEW return – for every individual as well as for the community. It is our conviction that especially contemporary music theater is capable of this as well, because it musically combines different art forms and can open up new realms.
With its motto “Point of NEW Return,” the dynamic Munich Biennale 2020 is a metaphor for the essential flexible dealings with our present times and serves as a model for the mobility, topicality, and relevance of the arts.
1) Online welcoming address:
Anton Biebl, culture officer, Department of Arts and Culture of the City of Munich
Daniel Ott and Manos Tsangaris, artistic directors
2) Video statements with the Biennale artists
The Biennale Program Book is published in print for the opening and online on the Biennial website.