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The Yes Men: Beautiful trouble - Inspiring interventions

Moderator

As our moderator FIW's Björn Müller-Bohlen opened the evening and introduced The Yes Men.

Audience

Our beautiful audience of more than 200 people - didn't not cause any trouble.

Starting off

Starting off their showcase: Mike Bonnano (Igor Vamos) and Andy Bichlbaum (Jacques Servin). 

Mike speaking

Mike Bonnano while explaining "RefuGreenErgy".

Rhizom enters the stage

Rhizom Bonn enters the stage during the Q&A-Session. 

Continuing the showcase

The Yes Men continuing with a carnival costume, also known as a "The Yes Men-Survival Ball".

Overview

With an interactive lecture performance called “Beautiful trouble – inspiring interventions!”, The Yes Men showcased their projects and discussed approaches to and ideas of modern protest culture with our audience at the Bonner Universitätsforum on November 11th, 2017.

On 11.11.2017, The Yes Men, two culture jamming activists from the U.S., honored the Bonner Universitätsforum with a lecture performance entitled “Beautiful Trouble – Inspiring Interventions!”. Staging their performance almost next door to the elaborate negotiations of COP 23, the two succeeded in providing a night filled with lots of laughter and truly inspiring stories of their recent endeavors.
Björn Müller-Bohlen, Executive Manager of the FIW’s Department of Strategic Partnerships, started the fully booked event with an enthusiastic opening. His emphasis on essential intersections of arts and science as well as the link between transformation and cultural change set the tone for the evening. After thanking the many actors without whom the night would not have been possible, among them Save the World by Theater Bonn and the Liaison Office International Academic Sciences of the City of Bonn, he introduced the two famous guests.
The Yes Men entered the stage and started out by cracking a few jokes evolving around the homophonic connection between former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and one of the environmentalist’s most significant enemy: coal. They then moved to introduce themselves with the help of a video showing their most prominent and successful projects that have been picked up by several dominant media outlets. Throughout their elaborate pranks, the two activists who (at times) go by the name of Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum have taken on several personalities with the goal of creatively commenting actions by private and public actors alike.
As the audience was curious about their current projects, The Yes Men offered an insight into Operations Second Thanks, a project in which they infiltrated a Homeland Security Congress in Washington D.C. Pretending to speak on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, they announced a plan to entirely switch to renewable energy sources by 2030 while simultaneously aiding Native Americans over land disputes. Heavily entertained by watching members of the Congress dancing to presumably Native American tunes, the Bonner audience was hungry for more.
“Your Future Is In Their Legs”
RefuGreEnergy 
The Yes Men then provided a recap of their actions revolving around COP 15 in Copenhagen back in 2009. There, they pranked the Canadian government under Stephen Harper by announcing a complete reverse of its climate change policy while setting drastic new carbon emission reduction targets – a carefully-timed press release along with shots of a fake press room did the trick. Moving to a smaller but not less radical project, The Yes Men gave an overview of their performance at Crossroads Conference Bonn a couple of days earlier. Once again pretending to speak on behalf of the U.S. government, they advertised “Refugreenery,” a start-up that has refugees producing emission-free energy with the help of bikes.  Its slogan “Your Future Is In Their Legs” shall stand exemplarily for The Yes Men’s dark yet entertaining humor.
Triggered by a question from the audience, The Yes Men elaborated on the goals of their activism. They explained that they started with the idea of people not being evil but only stuck in default. While being realistic about their limited capacities to alter people’s mindset, they like to believe that they can at least motivate their audiences to rethink their default positions. Through elaborate ways of making fun of private and public entities, they hope to draw attention to the political dimension of their actions. Ideally, this would then trigger specific actions by the recipients in order to initiate change. In this context, the Yes Men showed another video summarizing their infiltration of Canada’s largest oil conference. Posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives, the two introduced a technique – filled with biting humor – that would transform bodies of deceased humans into oil, thus solving the problem of finite fossil fuels.
One member of the audience providing The Yes Men with an inflatable costume – most likely a reminiscent of a same-day celebration of the beginning of carnival in Cologne – made for an additional comic moment. Welcoming the prop, the two activists allowed a further visual insight into their work. Pranking yet another conference, The Yes Men introduced what they called 'SurvivaBalls' to an audience interested in preventing climate change related loss of life. Similar to the many entertaining projects presented previously, the Bonner audience was quick to detect the implied critique of neglecting the root of the problem. The two then ended their performance by calling for real political and citizen action, which at times may entail causing trouble, in order to bring about real change and practical solutions. Ultimately, the reception provided ample opportunities for the guests to discuss personal projects with the seemingly tireless Yes Men.

Media:

A project by:

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 Partner: Evil Twin Booking Agency

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