Four Libyan tigers are prowling in a box outside Berlin's Gorki Theatre. In two days, the first volunteer will enter the cage to be eaten alive.
The action comes from the Center for Political Beauty (CPB, or Zentrum fuer Politische Schoenheit), a controversial Berlin-based collective of activist performance artists, in reaction to a law they claim is responsible for driving human trafficking and forcing refugees to cross the Mediterranean in dangerous and often deadly conditions by prohibiting airlines from accepting passengers who do not have a visa.
The CPB has created an elaborate, ambitious, and by its own admissions vulgar project called 'Eating Refugees: Distress and Circuses' that encourages the general public to vote for and fund up to 100 individuals and families to travel safely on June 28th on a chartered flight from a Turkish refugee camp to their families who have already reached Berlin. If the German government does not revoke EU Directive 2001/51/EC and the flight is turned away, the first volunteer, Syrian actress and refugee May Skaf will offer herself to the tigers.
"I expect a clear sign within the next few days that the political world is ready to consider this inhumane law," she stated at a press conference. "Otherwise I, slave of a murderous power, will perish in the arena. With nothing to protect me, I will let myself be eaten by Europe." The government did not revoke the directive by the CPB's deadline, June 22nd.
For those who are horrified at the crass shock tactics and doubt that it will be seen through, CPB artist Philipp Ruch offers no hope: "Anyone who knows our work knows that when we promise to do something, we deliver."* The collective has already stolen monuments to those who fled East Germany and re-erected them along the EU border to protest the EU's refugee policies; most recently it exhumed the corpse of a Syrian woman who died at sea in her attempt to reach safety in the EU, then reburied it in Germany ('The Dead are Coming'). The artist group claims to engage "in the most innovative forms of political performance art, an expanded approach to theatre: art must hurt, provoke and rise in revolt."
* While the Center for Political Beauty may not intend to turn back on their promise, German authorities are obliged by the German constitution to act on a known suicide attempt.