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Interview with Julian Hetzel


Creator of Schuldfabrik

Can you introduce yourself?

I am a performance maker, musician and designer. I consider multidisciplinary practice to be my expertise. My work is visually and conceptually driven. I’m born and raised in the Black Forrest (DE). I’ve studied at Bauhaus University in Weimar and I came to the Netherlands in 2010 to participate at DasArts Amsterdam, where I graduated three years later. Through the support of the Nieuwe Makers subsidy I’ve been associated artist at SPRING between 2014-16.  My creations have been produced and presented internationally while Utrecht became my hub and the base of my own Stichting “Ism & Heit”.

What is your opinion on the social relevance of theatre?

“Friction creates shape” – and that is what I consider an objective in all of my artistic projects: to generate a creative clash that raises questions about our society. My way of working is driven by critical interest and responsibility, towards society on a local as well as on a global level. Transition is the most relevant term to describe my current process and artistic vision. We live in a moment of fundamental changes and while the existing power structures are shifting, the value systems are also getting redefined. The idea of Europe (EU) is being challenged, borders are re-established, while nationalistic ideas are gaining popularity, and ‘otherness’ is becoming less tolerated in our society. Terror has landed in the centre of Europe, and as a result, fear and mistrust are growing to alarming proportions. It is precisely now that I consider it more important than ever to share stories that we have not heard yet, to bring people together and to highlight the parts that one would rather sweep under the carpet. I believe in creative interference as a tool for change.

What drives you to be creative?

I’m a critical observer and a hungry voyeur of reality, articulating ideas and questions about the world I live today, through my own artistic lens or language. Anything can be a trigger for creativity…

If you hadn’t become an artist, what would have been your profession?


The profits of this production go to a clean water project in Africa. Does this wash away (a little) of the moral and economic pain and guilt for you?

Schuldfabrik is an auto-generative system of energy and value creation. The installation feeds itself through value-creation on various levels. The donation of the profit of the sales of the soap tackles one of the world’s biggest problems: hygiene; and gives people in need access to fresh clean drinking water. In the same we also donate the soaps 1:1 – for each bar of soap we sell in the shop, we donate one bar to the same community in Malawi. Through the process of up-cycling of a sacred “waste-material” Schuldfabrik produces good, bad, relieve, cash, soap, water and again more guilt.

I am reminded of the expression: ‘to wash our hands of something’, which is used when someone wants to emphasize their innocence. Would you like the spectators to wash their hands of any guilt, or are you out to achieve the exact opposite?

Cleaning rituals are part of various cultures and religions. Confessions are constituent elements in cults and ceremonies. The act of actual cleaning with water (and soap) as a metaphor for a spiritual cleansing where sins or guilt are washed away is a common practice. The conscience is the place where guilt catalyses. The most advanced forms of the so called »cultural capitalism« help us to clean our consciousness as consumers. Egotist consumption connects the act of shopping with moral redemption. One can buy oneself free from something. As the soap «dirty« by its human-nature, it generate an interference through ambiguity. The proposition of cleansing creates an irritating obstacle that can’t be resolved.


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