SWOOSH LIEU are theatre operators, workshop specialists, agents of theatricalities, explorers of peripheral forms. The queer-feminist collective creates temporary spaces and images in real time, while simultaneously highlighting their conditions of creation. This form of performative practice allows them to open up the theatre space to socio-political analogies, while always also negotiating and making them tangible via their own means. Swoosh Lieu steadily continue to work on constructing a machine that produces and dismantles images and narratives. The components of this practice are space, light, sound and video. The blueprint comprises the politics of representation, political issues and audiovisual set-ups, which are continuously modified from a queer-feminist perspective while the machine is running. The theatre machine is a utopian perceptual space, our imagination an engine of liberation. It seeks to evoke its own associations and narratives instead of presenting ready-made truths. The machine is constantly being overhauled in order to question the basic assumptions of theatre.
The operators work as equal partners composing their work outside of hierarchies, far removed from a male-connoted idea of genius. They shred the geeky gestures of the male nerd and tinker with democratic grassroots methods of working in a steady review of their own expertise within a situation of solidarity and community.
SWOOSH LIEU (Johanna Castell, Katharina Pelosi and Rosa Wernecke) was founded in 2009 at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen and has since worked continuously in various constellations and different forms of cooperation.
After various performances and installations during their time at university, they created the choreography Everything but Solo (PET / Künstler*innenhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main) in collaboration with four dancers in 2012.
In 2013, they developed the performance The Factory – eine Besetzungsprobe (Festival Implantieren auf Naxos) at Naxoshalle Frankfurt, which was invited in 2014 to the German Dance Platform at Kampnagel in Hamburg and for which they occupied the old factory halls together with the audience and their media.
In 2014, on the occasion of the Künstler*innenhaus Mousonturm’s 20th anniversary, they realised the performance Stages of Work. Ein offener Umbau, which deals with technical stagecraft and the work that happens behind the scenes.
From 2016 to 2018 they worked with their team at Künstler*innenhaus Mousonturm on the trilogy What is the Plural of Crisis – ein Krisenbericht in verteilten Rollen, in which they dealt in various formats with the effects of the financial crisis from a queer-feminist perspective. The first part Who Cares?! – eine vielstimmige Personalversammlung der Sorgetragenden is about care work and role models based on interview material. In 2017, it was invited to the Stückemarkt of the Berlin Theatertreffen and the Impulse Festival. The second part Who Moves?! – eine performative Montage der Beweggründe was created at the Frankfurt LAB in late 2017. Swoosh Lieu again used interviews to address the production of images in connection with migration. In 2018, the piece was invited to the “Politik im freien Theater” festival at the Kammerspiele in Munich and then toured to Kampnagel/Hamburg, the Sophiensaele/Berlin and the Theater Rampe/Stuttgart. The third part Who Reclaims?! – ein collagierter Streifzug durch die Raumfrage premiered in September 2018 as a performative walk with the audience through the city of Frankfurt and through feminist spatial politics. Who Cares?! (2018) and Who Moves?! (2019) were also produced as radio plays in cooperation with NDR, Who Cares?! was nominated for the Juliane Bartel Media Prize in 2018.
Swoosh Lieu spent 2018 as artists in residence at the Villa Kamogawa/Goethe-Institut Kyoto/Japan. While there, they began working on their project A Feminist Guide to Nerdom, which aims to feature international female media artists and build a network among them. A Feminist Guide to Nerdom was presented as an installation at Künstler*innhaus Mousonturm and Tanzhaus NRW in 2019. In 2021/22, Swoosh Lieu continue working on this project in residency at the Cultural Academy Tarabya/Goethe-Institut Istanbul/Turkey.
During Covid Lockdown in Winter 2020/21 they realized the film A Room of Our Own – Vorstellung für Browserin und variables Publikum and in December 2021 they finally premiered their piece DEA EX MACHINA. Both projects deal with speculative feminist approaches to the use of technologies.
In addition to their artistic projects, the collective also gives workshops and lectures, for example in cooperation with the Women’s Bureau Frankfurt (Equal Care Day and Feminist Dialogue between Generations), Berlin Industry Get-Together of the Performing Arts, Hanover University of Applied Sciences, Evangelische Akademie in Frankfurt, Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomien in Bremen, Leipziger Hörspielsommer, Imaginary School for the Future of the (Art)Institutions in Giessen and the Hessian Theatre Academy.
In 2021, Swoosh Lieu will begin with a new 3-year project entitled Hidden Tracks and Beaten Paths – Theatrale Skripte für eine feministische Zukunft supported by the Cultural Department of the City of Frankfurt am Main, looking at alternative forms of knowledge transfer, (re)writing history and intergenerational dialogue from a queer-feminist perspective.
Johanna Castell, born in 1985, lives and works in Berlin and Frankfurt. From 2005 to 2011 she studied Applied Theater Studies in Gießen. …
Katharina Pelosi studied at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen and works as an audio artist in the fields of performance, choreography, radio plays and installations. She is a co founder of the feminist performance and media art collective Swoosh Lieu. As a theater musician and sound designer, she regularly collaborates with theater maker Simone Dede Ayivi. Further projects have been developed e.g. with costa compagnie, Antje Velsinger, the Geheimagentur and Moritz Frischkorn. …
Rosa Wernecke born in 1986, lives and works in Berlin and Frankfurt. She studied Applied Theater Studies in Gießen and Media Arts in Cologne. She is a co-founder of the feminist performance and media art collective Swoosh Lieu and the FLINT* network gefährliche arbeit. As a light and video artist, she works in the field of performance, dance, installation and new music, among others with Simone Dede Ayivi, Katharina Pelosi, Heinrich Horwitz, Sarah Nemtsov, Rose Beermann, Iva Sveshtarova, LukasUnd and FuturIIKonjunktiv. …