A Horde of Zombies Overtook Hamburg Ahead of the G20 Summit, for Art’s Sake

The city sees a host of artistic interventions calling for political action.

1000 GESTALTEN in Hamburg, Germany. Image Courtesy 1000 GESTALTEN.

The forthcoming G20 Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Hamburg, Germany from July 7-8, has spurred the onset of cultural events across the city, including one that may have sent a shiver up the spines of some visiting dignitaries. It involved hundreds of grey zombies wandering the city’s streets.

Called 1000 GESTALTEN, which translates in English as “1,000 figures,” it was a performance in which actors covered in grey, crusty clay moved silently and steadily through the city in a transfixed state. For the days leading up to July 5, these figures started appearing all over Hamburg, slowly growing in numbers until culminating yesterday in a giant formation in which a “transformation” took place, the actors breaking free from their clay shells.

The performance was intended to criticize political apathy, and as a call to “more political participation for a society where change doesn’t come from above, but from each and every individual,” the performance’s official website states.

Other happenings in Hamburg include a film festival in the Abaton cinema that looks at living conditions in G20 countries such as China, Turkey, Russia, and the US. At the Kampnagel Kulturzentrum, a global summit with discussions and workshops also took place yesterday in which participants discussed current political policies in an aim to develop straggles for global union.

Today, the “Global Citizen Festival” is slated to take place, with acts such as Coldplay, Shakira, Ellie Goulding, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Pharrell Williams on the docket. Additionally, a cabaret urging leaders to “get your damn job done” will be staged alongside the summit.

Street artists have also taken up the cause. In Hamburg’s red-light district, a giant poster of Donald Trump by street-art duo SUTOSUTO—comprised of Susanne Dallmayr and Thomas Koch—has popped up, in which the US President appears to be asleep. “Mensch, wach auf” (“Man, wake up”) reads in small letters at the bottom.

“If Trump were to see this, he would be tweeting all about it and we would be world-famous within minutes,” Dallmayr told Deutsche Welle.

The pair also used their exposure to express their discontent with the cost of the G20 summit, saying, “People could better invest that money in clean water for Africa, for instance, or for Southeast Asia or South America,” adding that it’s wrong to spend on “police operations for capitalistic cronyism and global oppression through government officials.”

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