By Spike Editorial Team

10 June 2024

Gessnerallee, Zurich, Dance

“Tune In / Drop Out” at Gessnerallee, Zurich

Under the sign of Timothy Leary, a four-day festival of performance, theatre, and dance will be an ecstatic finale to a four-year art experiment in “tentacular” thinking.

It’s been quite the journey: For four years, the current Gessnerallee team have had the opportunity to shape the program of one of the most important houses for independent performance, dance, and theatre in Switzerland and beyond. Now, this time is coming to an end. This work began with a symbolic spirit animal: the octopus, an organism with three hearts and nine independent nervous systems, including its brain. It has no skeleton, making it all the more mobile. The Gessnerallee was thus envisioned as a decentralized entity within Zurich’s institutional landscape, venturing into uncharted territory. In other words: “tentacular thinking” in the arts.

In the very year that the Gessnerallee’s new team began its work, a study on the effect of psychoactive drugs on octopuses gained attention. The findings showed – rather unsurprisingly – that even the otherwise solitary octopuses experienced an increased need to cuddle when under the influence of MDMA. US psychologist Timothy Leary’s slogan “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out” called on people to turn away from mainstream consumer culture and introspectively embrace freedom. This closing, therefore, bears the motto of 1960s psychedelic counterculture: Tune In, Drop Out. An invitation to the independent performance, dance, and theatre scenes to venture into an ecstatic finale together and to scatter themselves across Zurich and to break away from the Gessnerallee.

The final appearances on the Gessnerallee’s stage will be by Sultan Çoban and racious babies, two up-and-coming Zurich artists at the beginnings of their respective careers. Afterwards, the Gessnerallee will swarm out into the city with the artists; more than just a symbolic exodus from the halls. Together with performers from the independent, local, and international scenes – some of whom have been associated with the theatre for some time – new relationships will be forged with the city while deepening old ones. With a series of guest performances, co-productions, and in-house productions – with Ariel Efraim Ashbel & friends, Catol Teixeira, James Massiah,, Lukas Sander, SERAFINE1369, Simone Truong, Young Boy Dancing Group, and in collaboration with Grünhölzli, Lhaga Koondhor, Perrrformat Omanut, and Shedhalle Zürich – the previous team is saying goodbye.

The closing festival Drop Out will transform this summer weekend into a glamorous celebration of spirituality and carnality (Ariel Efraim Ashbel & friends), an ode to the moments in which boundaries are crossed and transcended (Catol Teixeira), a historical theatre under a starry sky (James Massiah with Lhaga Koondhor), an accidental embodiment as an unfinished process ( with Perrrformat), a piece with a ghostly presence (Lukas Sander), the question of whether we can change the material of time or whether it changes us (SERAFINE1369 with Shedhalle Zürich), the search for a connection to a community that is more than people (Simone Truong), and a communal dinner as a stage and social space for a collective experience (Young Boy Dancing Group). At various public locations in the city and in the spirit of the octopus, through “tentacular thinking” in the arts, Drop Out shows and celebrates the diversity of positions that have moved the Gessnerallee.

Catol Teixeira, “Zona de derrama: First Chapter”

Catol Teixeira, “Zona de derrama: First Chapter.” Photo: Marie Pons, Ultra, 2023, Ultra, 2023. Photo: Sévérine Kpoti / Biennale für Freiburg



Madison Wada and Caleb Kruzel

Madison Wada and Caleb Kruzel, Performance Space NYC, 2024. Photo: Jean Toir

Tune In / Drop Out
Gessnerallee, Zurich
19 – 23 June 2024