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L’Auditeur, 2011

Kerstin Meyer

– Mr. President, how foolish, the tents were in shreds!
– No, Sir. They are computer operated and automatically collapse with time.

‚L’Auditeur‘ (The Auditor) is a collaborative work by Achim Lengerer and myself. It is a structured approach to the World Social Forum at Dakar, Senegal. The World Social Forum is a platform of social activism against global capitalism. It takes place on a bi-annual basis. We perceived of the Forum as an entity, a political formation, in which we’d participate and where we’d be able to get involved with our own chosen structural means.

Personally, I became interested in the Forum because it is organized at non-governmental level, especially in Senegal, where I had been working as an economist. Achim concerns himself with the material nature of language and speech as well as editing the magazine ‚Scriptings‘. Mohamadou Diol and Seydou Ndiaye were our invited audience. Both are active in their resident Yaraax neighborhood of Dakar in emancipatory theater in the vein of Augusto Boal, which galvanizes the audience into action.

For the project we chose to implement a listening pattern as follows: Our two Senegalese playwrights would listen in to contributions from the World Social Forum, daily turn this into a script for immediate radio- play production in our mobile on-site studios. Finally both Mohamadou and Seydou as well as Achim and myself would make respective use of the material at Dakar and Berlin. In practise Mohamadou and Seydou wandered around the Forum site each day for several hours, listening in to the talks as they happened, taking notes all the time, immediately turning them into radio plays that were subsequently rehearsed and recorded in our mobile sound studios. The studio booth consisted of two blue foam mats which could be transported and set up easily anywhere on the extensive Forum site.

Coming from Berlin and participating in a World Social Forum in Africa requires you to engage in significant processes of perception and communication in order to be able to appraise conditions and conduct yourself accordingly. Our project reconfigures certain of these aspects of adjustment. You could define them as “perceiving the Forum in Senegal from a Senegalese perspective,” “listening in to a huge situation,” and “reporting from within an enclosed, non-public situation.”

S’Exercer à la Prise de la Parole
For this work executed in June 2010 in Dakar we again juxtaposed a sheltered studio space with a public aural sphere. Using a sound studio a workplace we created this audio drama for five voices in collaboration with Mohamed Seck, Aziz Cissé and Arfang Sarr Crao. For the public part ‚Débat pour l’Emission Radiophonique‘ (Debate for a Radio Programme) I collaborated with local broadcaster Manoré FM and invited the three Forum organizers, Taoufik B. Abdallah from the African Secretariat, and Miniane Diouf and Buuba Diop from the Senegalese Secretariat, to take part in a debate with concerned artists and activists on how they would prepare the Forum.
What struck us at the time was that many correspondents were primarily concerned with their personal expectations and seemed to overlook dealing with any opportunities for a collective approach. The fog had obviously not lifted during the ensuing months, so when the actual World Social Forum took place, between 6 and 11 February, 2011, the pivotal infrastructure requirement for an open forum of debate was lacking: there was no binding time schedule nor definitive space assignation for most of the 350 daily events that should have taken place on the extensive three by three kilometer university grounds. In the confusion many events did not therefore happen, and participants had to resort instead to wandering around, searching for any interesting talks that did take place.

Diol’s theatrical company ‚Kaddu Yaraax‘ was not given an official slot to perform either, expectant to the last. “C’etait fâcheux!,” “How annoying!.” In retrospect he had the impression that only those artists performed who had personally been “mobilized,” by the organizers directly. The word “mobilize” came up so much that I had to inquire. It was used to denote “faire venir,” “to have them come,” in political connotations that left unclear whose calling it was.

For the next World Social Forum Mohamadou Diol is now convening a ‚Forum Social des Artistes‘ in order to galvanize shared artistic initiative.