Conceptual thoughts on the 2021 programme

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced us to rearrange the festival at the last minute, but the KUNSTFEST 2020 still took place in person, with you and many wonderful artists! That summer, we were incredibly relieved as Weimar began to open up. We thought that year would be an exception, but then another lockdown was announced. Again, the team was worried KUNSTFEST 2021 would not be able to take place. Now, we hope we have developed another multifaceted, thought-provoking and entertaining programme!
Drawing on the last two iterations of the festival, our content is centred around the motto ‘Bundesgeistesschau’ (‘National Mind Show’). One topic that worries us is the state of the open and democratic society we live in. Weimar, the ‘birthplace’ of the first German democracy, is especially present in current consciousness, especially its failure and the pervasive threat to a free, democratic constitution through fascist provocation and violence. We believe it is still worth fighting against this today, because a free country is always dependent on certain conditions that cannot be guaranteed if too many of its citizens do not share these values. With the performative, documentary-style re-enactment 438 Days of the NSU Trial — a theatrical search for clues, we are hoping to continue and build upon the dialogue about the causes and consequences of the racist murders by the NSU and the right-wing extremist structures at the heart of German society.
We are also delving deeper into our examination of environmental issues this year. With ‘sustainability’ as our keyword, we are now focusing on the consumption of resources in a local and global context. We will interrogate the interdependencies and interactions between local activity and global livelihoods, and vice versa. This tension is not only reflected in terms of content, but also in terms of form: projects will address this topic in a range of ways, from international guest performances to participatory sculpture projects in public spaces. Not only will they reflect on the present, but they will also consider possible future scenarios.
Our delight in experimentation knows no bounds — we play with different aesthetics and develop completely new forms, from dance, drama and opera to concerts merging classical and modern, jazz and pop, visual arts, literature and film to VR performances, live radio plays, and discursive and participatory formats.
At the same time, we are also on the hunt for safe places to meet. We will play indoors and outdoors, creating venues all over Weimar: from Park an der Ilm and e-werk’s open air garden to the DEUTSCHES NATIONALTHEATER venues including the Redoute, the Nietzsche Memorial Hall, the Wimaria stadium and the warehouse at the Ehringsdorf brewery. And what is more, the performance project Thuringia — The Whole Truth, along with its companion exhibition series, will travel to the furthest reaches of Thuringia.
Although the KUNSTFEST is firmly rooted in Thuringia and networking with local artists and partners is important to us, we are delighted to welcome many international guests again this year! Our guest artists and companies come from all over the world: from Taiwan to Indonesia, Lebanon and Israel, from Congo to South Africa, from Uruguay to the USA and all over Europe — France, Belgium, England, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Turkey and Spain — we bid all of them a warm welcome!
With our diverse range of projects and events, we are not interested in following a single route or presenting a single viewpoint, but instead we want to shed light on a wide variety of topics. We see the ‘Bundesgeistesschau’ theme as a kaleidoscope that shows every visitor their own shimmering image, depending on which projects he/she sees, how they are reflected, and how they come together to form a whole.
See for yourself — we hope you have fun and enjoy yourself discovering what we have to offer!

Rolf C. Hemke
Artistic Director

Marlies Kink
Overall Production Manager & Dramaturg


The Kunstfest Weimar is central Germany’s leading festival of the arts, staged every year since 1990 in late summer. It presents outstanding examples of contemporary art at theatres, concert halls, museums, castles, libraries, streetsand plazas in the culturally historical city of Classical Weimar. This year’s programme features a wide range of theatre, dance, music, literature, film and fine arts productions. In the lead up to the festival, internationally acclaimed artists willmeet with the city’s young, creative scene and transform Weimar into an inspiring, dynamic stage. Numerous projects are specially commissioned each year for the Kunstfest, ensuring that visitors enjoy an unforgettable experience in Weimar during the festival weeks. The festivities includea variety of programmes for younger audience members and their families, as well as an extensive accompanying programme at no additional cost.

We cordially invite you to experience Weimar from a differentangle during these 17 festival days. Strike up conversation with our featured artists and fellow audience members.

Come celebrate the arts with us – in Weimar!