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Steph Joyce + Theresa Zwerschke

Visual Identity, Web- & Grafikdesgin
Insa Deist

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Kulturförderung der Stadt Leipzig


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Catwings
Steph Joyce & Theresa Zwerschke
Hobrechtstraße 49
12047 Berlin


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about

Catwings is an initiative for relational, situational, and performative art and research based in Leipzig, Germany. We organize and facilitate gathering-based programs for collective research, in which relations between audiences, artists, writers and cultural practitioners are centered and their situatedness is reflected. We endeavor to support intersubjective understandings of knowledge production, critical making, research methodologies, and various modes of collective learning by softening the often rigid delineations between art, cultural production, mediation and their sociopolitical involvement. Understanding them as interwoven and mutually defining offers possible strategies to consider collective practices to confront social, political, economic and ecological complexities and urgencies.

We are dedicated to continuously working towards an ethics of care within our practice as Catwings, which involves critically reflecting on and negotiating with our role and responsibilities as hosts, facilitators, researchers, and artists.

Catwings was founded in 2021 by Annika Stoll, Steph Joyce and Theresa Zwerschke as a non-profit art space and has since evolved into an independent initiative assembled by Steph and Theresa.

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Archive Program Ongoing
Mingling with Againness
wandering program series
January to March 2023

Each time we heard the story we took some of it back, in our mouths, like damp chemicals or pulp + saliva. Then spat it out to fill a hole or make the wall stronger.
Bhanu Kapil - Pinky Agarwalia: Biography of a Child Saint in Ten Parts

Vibrations become phrases become scores become habits. Repeat until you know them by heart, until meaning disperses into organs and everyone forgets where to locate the beginning. Who are the ones we're repeating for?
What is the ritual but a set of rules and rhymes, shaping relations through repetition?
Mingling with Againness is an invitation to engage with the ritualistic as collectivizing moments, forms of passing on knowledge and modes of resistance.
The program encounters concepts of the ritual in it's various social, political, spiritual and somatic connotations to create impermanent spaces of sharing and togetherness.

Mingling with Againness Part I
Performances "Dark Water" by Lauryn Youden and "breath to prayer" by Pelumi Adejumo and Intervention “Still life (about celebration)” by Boa Cha
took place on 7. January 2023 at Slug, Eisenbahnstraße 5, Leipzig
“breath to prayer” by Pelumi Adejumo at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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"Dark Water" by Lauryn Youden at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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"Dark Water" by Lauryn Youden at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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“breath to prayer” by Pelumi Adejumo at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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“Still life (about celebration)” by Boa Cha at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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“Still life (about celebration)” by Boa Cha at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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“Still life (about celebration)” by Boa Cha at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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vulcano
Text in response to the evening by Lara Hampe

I sat in a dark room
No dream, but candles
and later on – blue light


How do you want to be talked to?
In whispers, I say, and in chants

Da kannst du dir eine Scheibe von abschneiden *
somebody in the corner tells me and points forward

I do so, and I see:
rituals made out of rage
a cake made from tenderness
waves of words, rolling towards me through open ears

What happens between rage and tenderness?
I ask my companion
How many tears until the tipping point?

I was not heard, thus I imagine
warm tears
falling in a landscape of sugar
Salty puddles in mountains

the opposite of a vulcano so to say

Later, in bed, I wrote a line
It says:
Where does the I shift into a We

It was more of a question actually

*German for: You can take a leaf out of their book




Pelumi Adejumo is a runaway pastor child, (vocal) artist, writer and lucid dreamer living in the Netherlands. Working with themes such as displacement, devotion and lamentation. Her texts can be seen as assemblages transmitting spirit, sound, voices and words in an attempt to leave the listener spellbound. Using unintelligibility and the mix-match of languages to open up disruptive, creative and musical possibilities.


Boa Cha (*Seoul) is an interdisciplinary artist working and living in Leipzig. She holds a Diploma in Media Arts from Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig and is the owner of the Café and Bakery Cha Cha Flower Cakes. Her practices are focussed on notions of grief, transiency, and volatility, which manifests in site-specific installations and her conceptual food practice.


Lauryn Youden is a Canadian poet, and performance and installation artist based in Berlin. Her practice derives from her research and navigation through the medical industrial complex /colonial medicine, alternative healing practices, and traditional medicine for her chronic illnesses and disabilities. Her work illuminates and advocates for repressed, marginalized, and forgotten forms of radical care and crip knowledge. Youden was awarded the Berlin Art Price (2016), is the founder of Ashley Berlin, and an organizing member of Sickness Affinity Group.


Lara Hampe (*1994) works in between the fields of arts and literature. She is studying at HGB Leipzig and writes about affective materials.


Mingling with Againness Part II
Sound performance by N.B. Spiders and Shasti, Intervention “I would spend all nine lives with you” by Priska Engelhardt
took place on 2. February 2023 at Orinoco Books, Mariannenstraße 18, Leipzig
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Intervention “I would spend all nine lives with you” by Priska Engelhardt at Orinico Books, Leipzig 2023
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Sound performance by N.B. Spiders and Shasti at Orinoco Books, Leipzig 2023
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Shasti at Orinoco Books, Leipzig 2023
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N.B. Spiders at Orinoco Books, Leipzig 2023
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Sound performance by N.B. Spiders and Shasti at Orinoco Books, Leipzig 2023
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Sound performance by N.B. Spiders and Shasti at Orinoco Books, Leipzig 2023
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Intervention “I would spend all nine lives with you” by Priska Engelhardt at Orinico Books, Leipzig 2023
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Sound performance by N.B. Spiders and Shasti at Orinoco Books, Leipzig 2023
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Sonic spectres and the object hereafter


Put voice to static and mould ambiguous shapes as your eyelids droop downward
feel the flutter of a beat run through you.
Echoes resonate circles that I trace with my fingertip+++++
A hypothetical presence manifests itself in an invisible layer of noise.
The breath of ghosts. Rage liberates an apparition, as generative glitches unfold
Untamed ontologies hold a bewildering promise of life being outside of the
ideological frame we have inherited; where there is order there is also disorder.
Sounds orientate through dissidence, thought-space expands a kind of broken time,
deliberate in brewing the discordant and unfathomable.
invoke realities to
disrupt///
Investigate ulterior states induced during such incantations,
namely the breathless, the monstrous.
melt and
morph, undoing signifiers.
It feels the current of the breath in- between, where
bodies are haunted and fleshed, to conjure other representational freedoms.
Propose these corporeal commotions
as provocations and necessary interruptions.
Unsettle subjectivity.
guide us, slipping and sliding into a full and empty abyss, or what could be conceived
of as an oceanic state.
Being is not self-possession
or even self-determination, it is movement and circulation.
>>>Recognize flux and chaos, take into account that beings transmute and transform.
To deviate and be with otherwise are welcome cracks.
Offering a multiplicity of temporal destinations, through processing how
different bodies, in all their flesh, experience time and space; soft, eclipsed, jaggered, each a
frequency of purposeful disorientation.
Queer survival strategy with the ability to invent or seize thick entangled relations.
It is a question of navigation and orientation, of scale and
rhythm. Pull apart these contemporary complexities to
open up new possibilities of relationally.
Explore the dreamscape******

a place to shatter modes of realism and
action a synthesizing vibrational experience capable of awakening desires.
Our bodies are not closed loops, we breath, sound, move, are woven
together and, expressed collectivity, can synchronize the urge to erupt.


Haunted bodies: (an exercise)
Locating a place in your room
Going into that place however feels right
Taking time to settle there In your position
It might be resting, or not
Take some breaths here
Noticing the physical properties of this place
flat/wide/spacious/hard/rigid/cornered/rugged/awkward/narrow/upright/horizontal/hollow
Temperature
Is there any skin touching a surface
Clammy or dry
Breathing it in, maybe closing your eyes
Noticing the emotional properties of this place, how it makes you feel
safe/opening/sinking/edgy/obscure/alienated/calm/reflective/frustrated/content/other feelings
Dropping into imagination Dropping
Unravelling phlegmy
What kind of presence would hang out here?
What does it feel like?

It might represent something that has a form, body or creature, or it might be an energetic presence-
a light or feeling

This texture can be moved with
Somewhere between moving for something and with something
This movement might occur in a particular area of the body
Or might erupt through a different plane
This happens for some time
What comes is the dance for a haunting, it comes without judgement
And it's gone when it's gone
Opening the eyes and thank you to the haunting, locating another spot

Text by Colette Patterson


Priska Engelhardt (*1994) is a horse lover, sculptor and intermedia artist based in Halle. Her engagements with transformable materials, such as clay, porcelain or fabrics, explore artworks as utility objects and vice versa. In rethinking the almost sacred, untouchable imaginations of sculptures, her works find purposes outside of rigid exhibitionary modes of showing. Motives reflecting the ambivalences of human-non-human relations often appear in subtile humourous forms in Priska's works.

Shasti is an artist and organizer who embraces multi-disciplinary/directional practices and areas of curiosity. As a visual artist, Shasti works with performance and digital media on subjects such as language, revenge, curses, demonic voices, haunting and ghosts. As an organizer at the interface of art and activism, she is active in multiple Kassel-based intersectional queer feminist and BPoC-led collaborative contexts, including the livestream platform TERRARISTA TV, the BPoC artists’ initiative Cura Han Hati, and the recent first ever BPoC Festival.


N.B. Spiders is a transdisciplinary artist drifting somewhere in a quantum entanglement state between radical queer performing arts and playful storytelling with a crip touch. Their mainly collective work and research come alive through the transmogrified bodies of games, sound installation, stage productions, gatherings, ominous machinery and vaporware research grants


Colette Patterson is a curator and runs Slug, an inter-disciplinary art space in Leipzig.


Mingling with Againness Part III
Workshop “The Taste of Pomegranates” with Afrang Nordlöf Malekian and Iliada Charalambous
took place on 24. February 2023 at Halle 14, Spinnereistraße 7, Leipzig
set-up of “The Taste of Pomegranates” with Afrang Nordlöf Malekian and Iliada Charalambous at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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tablecloth for “The Taste of Pomegranates” with Afrang Nordlöf Malekian and Iliada Charalambous at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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guests peeling pomegranates during “The Taste of Pomegranates” at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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Afrang Nordlöf Malekian reads during “The Taste of Pomegranates” at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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Iliada Charalambous reads during “The Taste of Pomegranates” at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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guests straining pomegranate seeds during “The Taste of Pomegranates” at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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guests peeling squeezing lemons for juice during “The Taste of Pomegranates” at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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guests bottling pomegranate syrup to bring home during “The Taste of Pomegranates” at Halle 14, Leipzig 2023
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A lesson of Passing on


When I was a child, my grandfather used to tell me stories about his past. Probably everyone has experienced this. These stories may not have had a strong will to pass on a moral. He simply wanted to share his experiences with someone else. Just like the stories of pomegranates and families printed on a beautiful tablecloth, some stories beg to be told.

Persephone, who ate the pomegranate seeds, was trapped in Hades's underworld kingdom and the mourning of her mother gave birth to the seasons. Why does this Greek myth from long ago still reach us today? As I listened to the stories narrated by the two artists, while peeling pomegranates, I imagined the process behind the birth of the folk tales.

A long, long time ago, someone somewhere had an experience that couldn't be left untold. That person started telling the story to someone else. The person who heard it also passed the story on to others. This might have happened around a bonfire with the whole family, or while parents were teaching their children how to preserve food. The acts of 'telling' and 'listening' are repeated one after another.

During such storytelling, the form of the story changes, as someone makes mistakes, or adds the narrator's own subjective feelings or humour. However, through the careful passing of stories from one hand to the other, the original intention of a first storyteller remains intact. In this way, the important seeds of stories continue to be saved.

Through the process of peeling the pomegranate, we too tried to touch their family stories as politely as possible. Each of us thought about a distant, foreign landscape. What lies beyond our imaginations may differ from the facts that existed there. But our bodies, which try to imagine them, were already participants. With sticky hands, and a red stain of pomegranate spread across the tablecloth, the seeds of stories pass through the bodies of different people and transform into entities that reach further and wider. Leaving evidence that we had received their stories.

No one lives in that house of the land, far away. The pomegranates in the garden will no longer be picked. They will crack, turn a dark colour, fall to the ground and return to the soil. When time passes and the shape of pomegranates disappears, their stories become a bridge between this place now and that place then.

By making syrup and sharing the place of stories, we became collaborators in supporting this place without form. At the end, we were given a red, glowing pomegranate syrup to take home in small bottles that fit comfortably in our hands.


Iliada Charalambous is a Cypriot artist whose work usually finds its origins in current social and political events approached through a personal perspective. Her work engages in a constant questioning of the relationship of individual citizens to state politics and by extent to micropolitics. Charalambous, currently, works with the idea of dialogue and citizen assembly as counter-action to the fractured environment shaped by state politics. She works in a variety of constellations and creates spaces for individuals or groups to meet and share ideas about the influence of politics on everyday life and potential forms of resistance. In 2016, she completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague and is currently studying at the Dutch Art Institute (MA). She has previously worked with various collectives such as Trixie, AltVisions collective and GiraHollanda. Charalambous has shown in spaces suchas Nest ruimte voor kunst, Stroom Den Haag, Quartair contemporary art initiatives, Art Rotterdam, The Grey Space in the Middle, Worm, Caso Art Institute: Working for the Commons and has organized small scale assemblies at Stroom Den Haag, in public space and at the Museum As Parliament, Van Abbe museum.


Afrang Nordlöf Malekian (*1995) is an artist whose practice concerns history’s hidden actors and makers. In his work, he puts historicity into use as a form of documentation and aspiration that calls for improbable and impossible futurities. He examines how narratives, hierarchies, systems, and language disappear, return, and transform in the most unexpected ways; the bootleg culture of Tehrangeles’ music, the non-binary South-West Asian beauty standards, or the Chilean and Iranian leftist movements forced to organize in exile. Nordlöf Malekian has a master’s degree in fine arts from the Dutch Art Institute and the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Previously, he has conducted artistic research at the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut, and been a resident at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. He has shown at the 10th Berlin Biennale, Moderna Museet, Tensta Konsthall, IASPIS, Tegel, Page Not Found, Norbergfestival, Pina. Nordlöf Malekian’s work is in public collections, including Moderna Museet, Public Art Agency Sweden, Arab Image Foundation Library, and Botkyrka konsthall.


Makoto Okajima is an editor, writer and curator born in Japan and based in Leipzig. She also co-runs the art publishing label "SEA SONS PRESS" by using risograph. Through the method of oral history archiving and participatory observation, she is working on her curatorial magazine project "Die Straße" (The Street), which seeks to preserve small stories of the people in the changing city and listen to the vulnerable voices of the material / immaterial. She is currently a participant in the graduate programme "Cultures of the Curatorial" at Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig.

Mingling with Againness Part IV
Screening with “Rebecca and her daughters” by Shifra Osorio Whewell and “Agents” by Anastasia Sosunova
took place on 26. February 2023 at Plast, Stannebeinplatz 7, Leipzig
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entrance of screening at Plast, Leipzig 2023
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cushions for seating during screening at Plast, Leipzig 2023
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room during screening at Plast, Leipzig 2023
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“Agents” by Anastasia Sosunova at Plast, Leipzig 2023
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conversation with Fishra, following screening of “Rebecca and her daughters” at Plast, Leipzig 2023
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Texts by Lena Schmidt

Agents
In a frail blue morning hour
we see through the hole in a stylized wooden face
depicted in a stylized way and
the hole reveals something
yet
unseen
A young artist and an old artisan
As they sit in the front seats of a car,
and act in a trojan manner; speaking quietly,
a conspiracy kind of quiet
they seem to hide in the belly of their vehicle which
waylays in the guts of a forest that slowly
digests the ideas of its peoples
its materials
they whisper, hoarsely,
as they ambush the agent of folk art
in its thick and steady flux
seamlessly, seemingly without any agenda
the winged wooden creature
– a trojan horse, a golem, an angel of history –
passes by
they discuss its disguise
its different shapes:
A grasshopper, a folkloristic heroine, a lover, a shoe, a Jesus
against time
it moves within the symbolic realm that spans
in between real time and a crafted past
moving almost unnoticed through the landscape
that changed its modes of production over time
And changed time through the modes of its production –
While traditional folk dancers are doing their formations around them
stepping in and out of an imaginary circle, producing their own time
Its movement is unnaturally determined
like a reversed scene
anachronistic knowledge
that lingers through the gaze,
becoming innocent when reversed
stepping in and out of time
The artist and the artisan finesse their gaze
with rough cuts, sharp questions
The artist asks questions to unmask masks
How innocent or guilty are the shapes, the figures, the gods
If they are the products of people's thoughts
how innocent or guilty the godmakers, the godcreators, godshapers,
If they are but showing society its own faces
on demand
The artisan's voice is raspy,
a trojan kind of hoarse, really
meaning: the hollowed lungs must have been filled with sawdust
throughout the time
“Agents” is about the agency of folk art and
about animated wood:
meaning: a 3D-animation of a wooden creature, contemporary sleek
meaning: a wooden figure, moving through time or being moved through time
meaning: this wood is alive, but what makes it real?
Everything is hidden: the anima and its whereabouts, its hideouts,
the transition, the moving figure, what moves it and where to
the artist and the artisan are hiding to find the hidden
Agents has more layers than a trojan horse, it rather is a moving matrioschka
ideology carved into timber, turning into idolatry
Its movement is hardly noticeable and determined by
its creators, the god-makers,
hoarse voices,
trojan horses


Rebecca & Her Daughters
Watching the newsical Rebecca & Her Daughters, I understand what is meant by the title mingling with againness.
A book lies on the table. The cover reveals its sanctity, the spectator can read the golden letters headfirst, forming the title “THE HOLY BIBLE” – the hands which just opened the book now hastily search for one specific page. Once they found it, they tear a hole in the page. A face appears from the paper void and proclaims gently:
“Ah – be thou the mother of thousands of millions.” “let thy seeds possess the gates of those which hate them.”
In the next sequence, a newsreader that seems to have fallen out of time – the setting and makeup make me think of the 80es – declares „Good evening. It is July the 13th, 1843 and mobs of farmers and their workers in rural Wales are dressed as the biblical figure of Rebecca to march on the tollgates in what's come to be knows as the Rebecca Riots.“ Faint marching drums accompany her speech. She presents nowness, againness or history, “presenting” as in: bringing past to present, over and over, in rhythmic recollections, montage, puns and poetry, drag and melody.
We then witness a spectacular show of biblical cross-dressing, historical acrobatics, a flamboyant composition of news that were found in an echo chamber of history. Againness: a quote can become a void: a gaping gash, a mouth, spilling, singing, cursing loud? I think, the news might be growing from seeds of the past.
I am not surprised about the poet-farmers, about the rhymes, about the newsreader brushes time against its grain.
In his theses on the philosophy of history, Walter Benjamin writes:
“The class struggle, which is always present to a historian influenced by Marx, is a fight for the crude and material things, without which no refined and spiritual things could exist. Nevertheless, it is not in the form of the spoils which fall to the victor that the latter make their presence felt in the class struggle. They manifest themselves in this struggle as courage, humor, cunning, and fortitude. They have retroactive force and will constantly call in question every victory, past and present, of the rulers. As flowers turn toward the sun, by dint of a secret heliotropism the past strives to turn toward that sun which is rising in the sky of history. A historical materialist must be aware of this most inconspicuous of all transformations.“
The News are composed as historical drag: the past cross-dressing as present, or vice versa. The monads brought together in constellation webs, a construction site and a demonstration site suddenly lookalike. Gates clapping, swallowing money and spilling out words, and revolution is a demolition, reversed. Boiling up hate, and building up gates, Tearing paper, tearing walls: The poet-farmers deem the police as grasshoppers, themselves as seeds and the seeds as daughters of Rebecca I think of things that leap throughout history: references, quotes, grasshoppers, rioters, the flickering, hiccuping footage of protests in different times and spheres.

Walter Benjamin wrote:
“Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger’s leap into the past. This jump, however, takes place in an arena where the ruling class give the commands.”
– There jumps the executive: in the style of a grasshopper – “The same leap in the open air of history is the dialectical one, which is how Marx understood the Revolution.”
There you have Rebecca’s Daughters jumping across the fences, crossing the turnpikes, crossing the dress codes of their assigned gender, crossing the gates of their assigned class and leaping acrobatically across the centuries, materials, footage.
The turnpike sings to the rhythmical sounds of cash money. It opens its mouth to swallow metal coins, to sing along with brass trumpets trombones. It cuts and claps. In the echoing abyss of its mouth, a hole that opens up where the stories reverberate:
“For every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably. (The good tidings which the historian of the past brings with throbbing heart may be lost in a void the very moment he opens his mouth.)”

For every second of time was the straight gate through which [Messiah] (– you might choose to say “a Revolution” instead –) might enter.

Fishra (Shifra Osorio Whewell) drinks old stories, stirs them up with the outrageous/wonderful/bad shit that goes on under our noses and spits them out: the bitter-sweet spot between hymn and public broadcast danger warning. She likes words. Phonically, meaningfully, in sense and nonsense.​​​​​​​ Working with video, text, props, sound, music, performance --- it's all about the mixing together of these things into a hotpot. Fishra aims to exalt the local; to harness the transformative and emancipatory force of fantasy fiction; to use old and new narratives to let us interpret our experience and ultimately give us joyous and indignant agency in the world.

Anastasia Sosunova is a visual artist based in Vilnius. Sosunova’s multidisciplinary practice, combining video, installation, graphics and sculpture, grows from personal histories and their entanglements within broader cultural, economical and spiritual structures. Her work focuses in particular on the bonds around which communities are forged, from local vernacular art to social neighborhoods to religious organisations. She observes how these closed groups are developed, often in reaction to other values or beings, and how they subsist through shared sentiments and the development of rituals, traditions and collective agreements.
Through a process of distortion and the interweaving of elements belonging to old mythologies, hybrid entities and the surveillance society, Sosunova creates alternative forms of ‘contemporary folklore’. Spanning lifestyle concepts to pillars of belief, these new folklores are at once a play with notions of home and belonging, a questioning of existence and coexistence, and a critical view on structures of power and the psychology of collectivity. Her work serves as a proposition for new ways of living by rules, ethics, codes and agreements between beings.

Lena Schmidt *1995 in Leipzig, studied Studium Individuale at Leuphana University and Literary Writing at the German Literature Institute Leipzig. Further academic research was conducted in Bordeaux in the field of film studies, in Jerusalem with two research fellowships at the Hebrew University and in Vienna at the Institute for Language Arts in the University for Applied Arts. She works as a literary translator and author, mostly of essays and poetry.

Mingling with Againness Part V
Closing Dinner with Marcus Woodfield and Lucie de Bréchard
took place on 17. March, at Slug, Eisenbahnstraße 5, Leipzig
set up of dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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offerings of dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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menu for dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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ingredients for soup during the dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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a soup in preparation during the dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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during the dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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during the dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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Makoto Okajima reading “A lesson of 'Passing on'” during the dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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Lena Schmidt reading during the dinner by Princess at Slug, Leipzig 2023
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Lucie De Brechard (FR) and Marcus Woodfield (AU) are Princess, a Berlin- based studio bringing together design, production and curation. Both graphic designers with a background in art mediation, hospitality and fashion, Princess is the binding of it all, through a series of private dinners and coupled performances, bringing about pleasure, tradition, theory, rituals, friends, peers and lovers.