About

The Absurd

/əbˈsəːd/ (adj.) wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate. The Absurd arises in us when we search for a meaning, but find only meaninglessness. It was logical for absurdist fiction to grow as a genre in the most illogical times. The time of fascism around the Second World kindled writer’s ambition to introduce concepts of absurdism in their literary texts. So it came about, presumably as an offshoot of existentialism with hints of nihilism, surrealism and some avant-garde.

The first texts to confront the absurd appeared already in the 19th century. As a branch of philosophy, Absurdism peaked in the mid-twentieth. Of course, the world has since changed, and today our critical reading of these texts has progressed due to the current global socio-political situation. We’ve also acquired new analytical tools that were not yet available then, such as social media.

»Are we talking about connecting people or are we talking about harmonizing people? Connectivity does not mean harmony. How do we make sense of this world, which is more connected than ever, but at the same time is building more walls than ever before?« (Yuval Noah Harari in conversation with Mark Zuckerberg, 26.4.2019, YouTube, 78.254 views).

In contrast to thinkers like Noah Harari, the absurdist text has an inner logic that never follows a Newtonian world order. There’s no Telos and no goals to achieve; there is no rationale and there isn’t a meaning. In the world of absurd texts, plans go awry. Situations are mostly grotesque. 

The Queen remarked: »I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day«, »I can’t believe that« said Alice, »one can’t believe impossible things.«

»I daresay you hadn’t much practice, when I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.« (Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll).

In this morning’s paper I read of a joint military exercise with the Israeli army, the German army and NATO. The exercise took place recently in Bavaria. In one of the war-games that the armies were playing, the soldiers engaged in a simulation of a village takeover. Gideon Levy reports:

»In this war game there are prisoner camps with barbed-wire fences, but it’s forbidden to capture Israeli soldiers. […]. American troops made one attempt to snatch a few IDF soldiers, but the latter said they don’t play such games. The Israelis also didn’t train on Friday and Saturday.« (When Israeli and German Troops Fought Side by Side in Bavaria’s Trenches, Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz Magazine 23.4.2019).

A special unit of attack dogs has also took part in the exercise. Levy comments:

»2019. An Israeli soldier issuing commands in German to an attack dog that was trained in Germany, on German soil, not far from Nuremberg, the city of the laws and the trials. The only thing missing was for the dog to be a German Shepherd.«

In the context of Israel-Deutschland relations, it is absurd to compare the now with the then. The now exemplifies a wondrous paradigm of hope. Over the course of a generation, there has been a radical shift in Israeli public opinion about Germany, and about visiting or living in Germany, which were all controversial in the past. In fact, Berlin used to be a place of horror not too long ago and look at it now, trending in TLV as the spot-to-be. Still, the tension exists in that hyphen, the one that connects the I and the D, because of the history. This tension serves often as a catalyst for charming absurdities.

»We don’t leave because we don’t want to shake up the family. But except for taxes we aspire to implant in the minds of the young generation not to stay here. Each one has her German Pass! This is our insurance«.(username: my father loathes Israel, Ha’aretz online, 17.03.2019, talkback #5)

Every year on this day, at 10 AM sharp, sirens sound throughout Israel. It is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Every person stands still for two minutes long. All the automobiles stop and drivers get out of their vehicles to join pedestrians in this short silent meditation. Israel, like Germany, has a strong remembrance culture. Yet, some people in Israel tend to forget their history as an act of convenience. In one of the many remembrance speeches, exactly 3 years ago today, I watched former IDF Deputy Chief Yair Golan commit a career suicide by comparing attitudes in present-day Israel to »nauseating trends« in 1930s Germany:

»It’s scary to see horrifying developments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here.«

The 2020 edition of the ID Festival is set to present some of the absurdist canon and filter them through a modern prism. We will also introduce new texts and juxtapose them against older ones. But the ultimate goal and challenge is to create a visitor journey that would offers an experience of the Absurd. To better articulate the Absurd, we ought to design absurd settings and absurd stages; share absurd thoughts and make absurd comments; and come up with new, absurd performance formats.

~ Ohad Ben-Ari, founder & managing director


Our History

© Bureau Hoyer

2015-2018: Identity-Migration-Integration?-Next Generation

In 2018, we looked at the Next Generation: young people making art and new talents (artists), new and fresh ways of interpreting the classical ideals (formats), as well as new ways of relating to the world at large (issues).

© Adar Aviam & Charlotte Sauvaget

In 2017, ID Festival Berlin took on the next logical step, and with the theme of “integration?”, our participating artists and thinkers discussed the implementation of the European ideals through art.

© Adar Aviam & Charlotte Sauvaget

In 2016, we found ourselves naturally responding to the European migratory movements, with the Israeli artists setting out to examine the impacts of these movements and their transformative potentials on the European state of affairs and culture.

© Adar Aviam & Charlotte Sauvaget

Since our festival launch in 2015, our aim was to explore the concept of identity. The participating Israeli artists embarked on a journey of self-exploration caused by an apparent identity crisis.