(English below)

Social Muscle Club ist eine Gruppe von internationalen Künstler*innen und Performer*innen, die seit 2012 kontinuierlich zusammenarbeitet und performative Events produziert. Die Beteiligung der Öffentlichkeit und das gemeinsame Hinterfragen von Denkgewohnheiten stehen dabei im Vordergrund. Der Club wurde gegründet für alle, die sich im globalen Dorf gegenseitig unterstützen wollen, inmitten einer Gesellschaft, in der man sich als Einzelner oft überfordert fühlt. Vorbild und Inspiration war ein Dokumentarfilm über einen Arbeiter-Club in Sheffield. Als Gegengewicht und Ausgleich zu Stress und Leistungsdruck einer kapitalistischen und wettbewerbsorientierten Arbeitswelt bot der Club für alle Mitglieder nicht nur ein selbstverwaltetes soziales Auffangnetz sondern auch Unterhaltung. Den sozialen Druck und das damit verbundene physische und psychische Leid kannten auch die Gründungsmitglieder des Social Muscle Clubs Berlin aus eigener Erfahrung. Man traf sich zunächst in einer kleinen Gruppe im Wohnzimmer und entwickelte gemeinsam Ideen, um sich gegenseitig zu unterstützen und dies auf eine Weise, die Kunst, Kreativität und Soziales miteinander verbindet. Seit 2012 ist der Social Muscle Club exponentiell gewachsen und hat tausende von Menschen in über zehn internationalen Städten erreicht. Darüberhinaus gibt es regelmäßige Clubs in Berlin, Basel, Bristol und Wien. Inzwischen ist auch die Mitgliederzahl angewachsen. Der Social Muscle Club verbindet Leute aus verschiedenen sozialen Zusammenhängen, auch Menschen, die sich normalerweise nicht in der Theaterszene bewegen, so ist ein wachsendes internationales Netzwerk entstanden, dass sich durch Vielfalt und Solidarität auszeichnet.

Social Muscle Club is a group of international artists who have been working together in different forms since 2012 to change our usual habits of thinking and doing and 'train the social muscle'. The club was founded for everyone in the global village seeking to support each other in a society in which one often feels alone.  The club began in a Berlin living room and was inspired by a documentary about a workers club in Sheffield, English which promised 'entertainment and mutual support'. As a contrast to stress and pressure to a capitalistic, competitive working world, the club offers a self-organised social net. The Berlin founders of Social Muscle Club experienced personally the psychological effects of pressure to succeed, earn money, and fit in society. So they began practicing giving and receiving with friends and colleagues in their living room, in order to support each other. Since 2012 the club has grown exponentially and has reached thousands of people in ten international cities, including ongoing clubs in Berlin, Basel, Bristol, and Vienna.  The club integrates people from different social backgrounds as well as people who normally don't visit or participate in the theatre scene, out of which a growing international network of solidarity has been established.

This is a channeled project, founded in Berlin by Till Rothmund and Jill Emerson and joined by Rahel Savoldelli, Jeremy Wade, Steve Heather, Knut Berger, Siegmar Zacharias, Beni Wyss, Jen Bell, Agathe Chion, Ronald Berger, Anna deCarlo, Steve Heather, Siegmar Zacharias, Claudia Basrawi, Juli Reinartz, Tayfun Schulzke, Knut Berger, Eva Sophie Philipps, Rainer von Dziegielewski, Judith Strössenreuter, Andreas Blassmann, Anke Licht, Jen Bell, Thomas Kasebacher, Laia Fabre, Carola Lehmann, Nir de Volff, Simon Kanzler, Liz Rosenfeld, Claus Erbskorn, Tim Habeger, Ruth Nelson, Micah Bezold, Marwan Kamel, Shelby Hofer, För Künkel…. and many more lovely people.

 

‘Social Muscle Club (SMC) is hard to describe. The international performance art project is all about giving and taking. Wishes and gifts are formulated on paper slips and negotiated throughout the evening – unconditionally, SMC is not a barter shop. If a wish or a gift is not fulfilled, there is at least a discussion to win. And sure enough, a singular amusement. A mixture of happening, celebration and social sculpture, Social Muscle Club is the place where art and anti-art conspire with immersive theatre while it‘s all about two simple questions: What can you give? What do you want? SMC trains your interpersonal strength through a simple game based on the fact that every human being wants something and has something to give.Regardless of the city in which a Social Muscle Club is located, the curators, organised in an international core group, stick to a basic structure, a sequence of elements around an ever same wish and gift-game. While this structure always remains unchanged, the contents – a site-specific performance program with a lot of improvisation and most importantly, an open stage – differ widely. An evening at the SMC is a collective adventure that is – in its intimate setting – to be experienced and interpreted individually by each participant. Therefore, the text at hand is bound to the author and cannot reflect any collective opinion.The beguiling thing about SMC is its effortlessness. Every cramped person who feels socially incompatible somehow manages to get involved in the game and gain something from it. Due to this low-threshold networking potential, SMC has all it takes to become a hit of the scene. To prevent this, the club continuously moves out of ancestral territories and integrates into the city. Because the gathering lives from its heterogeneity, the most unexpected encounters are possible. SMC left theatres and art spaces and entered new spheres. Thus, the club always has to take new forms in order to reach new audiences. SMC doesn‘t make itself comfortable just anywhere but ventures out into new social contexts – into fitness centres, old people‘s homes, luxury hotels, churches or refugee homes. SMC is not a party – as pictures of one evening might suggest. It is an intensive and sometimes strenuous artistic-social project with an elaborately designed framework….

The well-known Swiss political publicist Daniel Binswanger described the relevance of SMC as follows: „The Social Muscle Club has met with an enormous response. The concept is far away from the classical ideas of mediation. The purpose is to intensify the interaction itself. The Social Muscle Club is consistently oriented towards the goal of participation, which is becoming a new urgency everywhere, also in the classical institutions. The playful removal of inhibition thresholds has the effect that any participants, without knowing each other, begin to give each other presents.”

‘The People’s Smart Sculpture’ Best Practice Study https://www.mn.uio.no/ifi/personer/vit/almira/ps2_bestpracticestudy.pdf