Daniel Kötter

Water & Coltan

landscapes and bodies #3/#4, theatre, documentary film

feat. Olande Byamungu, Yasmine Bisimwa, Christian Chokola Muhigwa

Water & Coltan
landscapes and bodies #3/#4

Artistic direction: Kötter/Israel/Limberg
360° film: Daniel Kötter
Stage and costume design: Elisa Limberg
Dramaturgy: Anna Ptak
Sound: Marcin Lenarczyk, Paul Hauptmeier, Martin Recker
Artistic and production collaboration: Melanie Albrecht
Production: ehrliche arbeit - free cultural office with Leoni Grützmacher
From and with: Christian Chokola Muhigwa, Yasmine Bisimwa, Olande Byamungu

landscapes and bodies is an immersive performance parcours that is dedicated to the political, social and ecological consequences of underground and and open-cast mining.

The five-part performance series landscapes and bodies will be developed by Kötter/Israel/Limberg in collaboration with musicians, performers, theoreticians and local mining workers from Indonesia, DR Congo, Estonia, Leipzig and the Ruhr Region. The respective works explore the local and global influences of the extraction of raw material on landscapes, living environments and the living together. Each work is understood as a case study. 

The titles of the subprojects refer to aggregate states and processing mechanisms of the raw materials which on the one hand serve as concrete models for the theatrical transformation processes and on the other hand as metaphors for dealing with fundamental questions of local and global coexistence.

WATER (landscapes and bodies #3)

WATER deals with the competing time dimensions of post-mining in the context of the question of water infrastructure in the Ruhr Area. After the end of hard coal mining, the Ruhr Area is not only struggling with social and urban structural change but also with the immediate eternal consequences of raw material mining. While the last two centuries in the Ruhr Area were mainly determined by coal, another element is now taking over a hidden but decisive place in all future scenarios for coexistence in the region: water. On the one hand, underground pumping stations in the former tunnels must ensure that the rising water level of the seeping mine water does not lead to contamination of the ground water and thus of the drinking water, while on the other hand, above-ground pumps prevent the formation of swamps and lakes in lowered sections of the landscape. And finally, as part of a nationwide structural change, new living space is being created on former industrial sites in the Ruhr area, along waterways, rivers, harbour basins and newly created lakes.

WATER reflects the absence of water as a permanent condition for survival and its presence as a visual-temporal natural scenery in the post-coal Ruhr area. And it sketches possible future scenarios for the landscape and the bodies living in it.

COLTAN (landscapes and bodies #4)

COLTAN focuses on the concrete and current perspective of active female workers in coltan mining in South Kivu in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. With them, COLTAN tells the socially, economically and politically complex stories that stand locally at the beginning of a global exploitation chain of the raw material coltan. Coltan is known to be one of those raw materials that, when processed end up in the devices and in the pockets of all smartphone users worldwide. In this way, the project bridges the gap between the immediate social and political contexts of mining practices at extraction sites in the Global South and the everyday digital practice of distributing information in the Global North.

The history of coltan mining in eastern Congo is closely linked to the consequences of the genocides in neighbouring Rwanda and to the financing of militias. Ethnically interpreted struggles for territory and political influence went hand in hand with struggles for access to and distribution of raw materials. It is a male-dominated conflict, and with the instrumentalisation of sexualised violence and expulsion, it has been carried out not least on women's bodies. It is also a conflict that in the vast majority of cases was told and passed on by men.

In COLTAN, together with environmental engineer Christian Muhigwa, lawyer Olande Byamungu and social worker Yasmin Bisimwa we want to have the conflict recounted, by and from the perspective of women who have found their way into artisanal mining, not least to show that the history of artisanal mining in Congo can also be the history of new opportunities for economic and social stabilisation and security for women. COLTAN therefore transports its audience directly to the places of exchange and work of women in various mining villages in the province of South Kivu in the east of the DR Congo by means of a VR film.

Thematic background

Underground and surface mining are not only global economic strategies of exploitation, trading and transporting raw materials depending on a constantly changing demand for natural resources. Mining is first and foremost the practice of the fundamental transformation of space and as such it moves and distributes individuals, groups and entire peoples within it. Mining irreversibly changes the everyday experiences of local communities and their natural living environments: villages are resettled, temporary camps for miners are created, new mining cities are planned and built, mountain peaks are turned into open mining pits, open cast mines turn into touristic lakes, forests become deserts and rivers become slag heaps. The relationship between natural spheres of life and rural and urban forms of settlement, between landscapes and the distribution of bodies in them - the fundamental concepts of coexistence - are profoundly changed, transformed and recoded. For the artist collective Kötter/Israel/Limberg the questions of mining are primarily spatial-political questions of coexistence and thus genuine questions of 360° film and theatre.