Security Conference

By Stefan Kaegi

What does intelligent ammunition think?

Is anybody able to understand a troop contingent speaking 12 languages?

How do you simulate Day X?

300 conference participants, 3,500 protesters, 4,000 police officers. Defence ministers, representatives of the arms industry, globalization critics... all of them see a platform for their cause in the annual Munich Security Conference. The venue is the luxury hotel Bayerischer Hof, and a whole city places itself in scene as a stronghold of diplomacy, backed up by countless official receptions and armies of helicopters.

In NATO-speak, a “theatre” is a demarcated area inside which military engagement takes place.

Military exercises are used to present officers and students of political science with fictive scenarios that could become reality in the not-so-distant future: civil wars in Indonesia, or the deployment of unmanned combat units in Somalia... Individuals take on the role of countries and states, test the strength of their opponents’ arguments. Entire operating headquarters are reproduced – or, to put it more precisely, anticipated.

At Kammerspiele, Stefan Kaegi stages a meta-conference at a vast roundtable. In confrontation with asymmetric and privatized warfare, experts in security technology and fun robotics are brought together with people whose lives were changed by foreign-policy decisions. All the spectators wear headphones transmitting voices that cause them to constantly change their perspective – from the viewfinder of a frontline cameraman to the booth of a conference interpreter, from a young woman suffering the loss of half her family in Somalia to the photo-albums of a former Chief of Protocol, from the strategic wargames of a political scientist to the Afghanistan of a German soldier and the Munich of an Afghani organizing the resistance in his home country.

In show battles fought by robots only the ones no longer capable of movement are considered to have been defeated.