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Johannes Paul Raether is a modern witch with the appearance of an androgynous alien who transgresses the establishment with aesthetically hypnotic and disconcerting protests.

Johannes Paul Raether

In July of last year, the police evacuated and closed an Apple Store in Berlin after a performance by the artist. Johannes Paul Raether appeared as a no-gender being who called himself Protectorama, painted blue and red all over his body and wearing a biker suit combined with leather. The artist performed a ritual with gallium, a metal that melts at body temperature capable of decomposing the aluminum of technological products, which was intended to make the public reflect on our fetishization of Apple products. Something that neither understood nor much less accepted the employees of the store, who ended up calling the police to evacuate and close the premises.

The press echoed the moment and the dreaded question arose: art or stupidity? While the media chose his side, Johannes Paul Raether became the contemporary performer of the moment. Having experienced the power of the mass media, the artist now intends to play in a line that makes them incapable of creating sensationalist headlines around his performances, a reputation already enjoyed by the Critical Art Ensemble group, one of its referents.

Johannes Paul Raether

At the end of last October, Protectorama returned, performing at the CYCLEmusic and art festival in Iceland. The artist focused again on the metals and the use we make of the elements of the Earth. The reflection revolved around an aluminum smelter and a tourist center built around a spa rich in silica and sulfur; two of the main income sources of the country. In both places, Johannes Paul appeared accompanied by a group of people willing to develop a work of contemporary art there. Of the spa, to not vary, they were expelled.

He has also performed in other spaces, such as Ikea, and audiovisual art festivals, including the Berlin CTM that ended last weekend. In the festival, he has developed WorldWideWitches, a performance where he has worked with three characters: Protectorama, Transformalor and Schwarmwesen. The three are the representatives of that witch community where each one is a versioned being who meditates and works on a specific field. His performances are increasingly interactive and polished. For the CTM he named his interaction group “The Coming ReproTechno Tribe” and performed with them a ritual in which they reflected on the data, the future cyborg, modern biology or the aggressive commodification of human reproduction.

At the end of last October, Protectorama returned, performing at the CYCLEmusic and art festival in Iceland. The artist focused again on the metals and the use we make of the elements of the Earth. The reflection revolved around an aluminum smelter and a tourist center built around a spa rich in silica and sulfur; two of the main income sources of the country. In both places, Johannes Paul appeared accompanied by a group of people willing to develop a work of contemporary art there. Of the spa, to not vary, they were expelled.

He has also performed in other spaces, such as Ikea, and audiovisual art festivals, including the Berlin CTMthat ended last weekend. In the festival, he has developed WorldWideWitches, a performance where he has worked with three characters: Protectorama, Transformalor and Schwarmwesen. The three are the representatives of that witch community where each one is a versioned being who meditates and works on a specific field. His performances are increasingly interactive and polished. For the CTM he named his interaction group “The Coming ReproTechno Tribe” and performed with them a ritual in which they reflected on the data, the future cyborg, modern biology or the aggressive commodification of human reproduction.

Johannes Paul Raether is a modern witch with the appearance of an androgynous alien who transgresses the establishment with aesthetically hypnotic and disconcerting protests. His appearance is visually fascinating, which makes his claims more powerful and controversial. His art is a reflection on the unconsciousness and the lack of reading around our way of doing things and our productive process. Language is a key element in their actions. Terms such as “tecnoalquimia”, “psychorealism” or “capitalotrophic addiction” emerge as the perfect combination of words that hybridize the concepts with which the artist works.

His aesthetic is the result of a process of individual transformation where the first step was with the drag queen Mother Flawless Sabrinaas a reference. Make-up for the artist is a technology of social transformation. The truth is that the body itself and the consciousness and modeling of the physical self is something that Raether already began to get involved before transsexuality and identity were the order of the day. For him, the queer theory and the rupture of gender binarism are closely connected with the question of class and race, discourses that he worked with in the nineties while he was part of the Berghain scene and participated in anti-fascist environments.

The invocations of the witch are preceded by an intense work of research and search of an appropriate linguistic game. The very idea of ​​witchcraft does not arise from an unthinking idea: the artist uses as a theoretical reference Caliban and the witch, a book by Silvia Federici from which Raether begins to introduce himself in the modern tools of transgression of reality and in that return of the concept of witchcraft adapted to late capitalism.

Currently, Raether is an art professor in Düsseldorf and has presented his work at the 9th Berlin Biennale, the Palais du Tokyo in Paris, the Fridericianum in Kassel or the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Some collectives and media consider him a sort of anarchist clown (a German newspaper even titled the event of Apple with a lapidary phrase: “What a idiot!”) – but the truth is that Reather is already considered one of the most important performers of contemporary art. The multifaceted artist is an indomitable fusion of club culture, contemporary art and philosophical theory about body, identity and technology.