Lecture performance: "Soma" by Christoph Keller
Friday 20 October, 17:00 to 18:00
@ Christoph Keller
In English with Arabic translation
Soma is a survey of various forms of body psychotherapy, which emerged in Brazil during the resistance against the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. These movements were strongly influenced by the writings of Wilhelm Reich, a radical psychoanalyst whose studies on the somatic body, sexuality and the psychological repression effected by fascist politics that prevailed at the time. Roberto Freire, a Brazilian anarchist, writer, and theater director who openly resisted the dictatorship, combined Reich’s ideas – namely vegetotherapy and the concept of muscular armor – with anarchism and elements of the afro-Brazilian dance and martial art hybrid, Capoeira de Angola. Capoeira was originally developed by captive slaves to train their physical responsiveness and mental strength in anticipation of a possible escape. Freire’s aim was to create an experiential group therapy that would help those involved in the struggle, by emphasising play and liberation from bodily tension that resulted from political repression. Freire named this practice Somaterapia, or Soma – an anarchist play therapy.
Christoph Keller’s lecture, Soma, links somatherapy and Reich’s theory of pulsation with his own practices, situated at the threshold of art, science, and experimentation. The presentation includes film fragments and therapeutic elements in order to question and expand the lecture format itself.
Christoph Keller studied hydrology, mathematics, and physics, and began working as a hydrologist in South America before enrolling in Fine Arts and Film at academies in Berlin and in Cologne. His research-based work often takes the form of installations or film, such as Anarcheology (2014), which was included in Act I of Sharjah Biennial 13, Tamawuj (2017), and Vive l’independence de l’eau in the SB13 off-site project in Dakar.