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Give Rise To Colin Self


HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark is pleased to present Colin Self (*1987 Aloha, USA, lives in Berlin) as the first guest of the international residency format. In the course of his residency he is preparing his performance in the series Give Rise To. Self will work with local as well as international collaborators on his research on the secret language Polari and will also explore the queer history of the city.


Colin Self

Photo: Milena Braune 


HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark is pleased to present a new commissioned performance by US choreographer, composer and artist Colin Self (*1987 Aloha, USA, lives in Berlin). Self is also the first guest of the international residency format, which will kick off in 2021.

During a two-month residency in Graz, Self will deepen his research on Polari, an almost forgotten secret language or form of expression. Polari was increasingly used during the 1930s and 1970s, primarily in Britain among homosexual circus performers, sailors, and those criminalized at the time on the basis of their sexual orientation. The origins of the language can be traced to Romance branches of Italian. Over time, expressions from Yiddish and slang words from the drug milieu of the time also found their way into the language. Based on his research on Polari, Self asks in the here and now how forms of anti-languages” might function and sound, also with regard to our digitally monitored present moment. 

Self wants to connect this questioning with the queer history of Graz. In this context, the dazzling figure of Vera de Vienne (aka Werner Obermayer) is an important reference. Born in Graz, he first began his career as a ballet dancer at the local opera house, and over the years, which he spent at times traveling through Europe, he and his partner developed various vaudeville and revue characters, which in today’s terms would be called drag shows. Thus, in the early 1960s, there is even a striptease performance in Sarajevo in front of the then President Tito. In the late 1970s, the couple opened the legendary Club Café Werner, where Vera de Vienne performed regularly. Over the years she became an important witness of the queer history of the city and has a rich fund of documentary materials as well as costumes. In exchange with Vera de Vienne and other local as well as international collaborators, Self will present a new performative piece that uniquely takes up, brings together, and reinterprets these multilayered cultural imprints of those independent queer subcultures.

Curated by Cathrin Mayer


Participating artists

Colin Self

*1987 Aloha, lives in Berlin

is a lecturer at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute in Berlin and has presented his work at the Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam; HAU Berlin, Berlin; Neues Museum, Berlin; The Kitchen, New York; and Issue Project Room, New York; among many international festivals and venues. He is a Rhizome Commission Grant recipient and a Queer Art Mentorship Fellow. He was an Eyebeam resident in 2016 and a resident fellow at Etopia for FUGA in Zaragoza, Spain in 2018. He is a co-founder of NYC queer performance collective Chez Deep and Radical Diva Grant. Self received his MFA in music and sound from Bard College, New York. Since 2015 Self works closely with Holly Herndon and has performed with her touring ensemble. He leads XOIR, an international non-utilitarian vocal workshop focused on alternative modalities of group singing, and releases solo music on the record label RVNG Int.


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