Wash the pain away!

»Schuld« is a German term that implements two different yet related meanings: »guilt« as a moral duty and »debt« as an economical obligation. Schuldfabrik explores the conflict between these notions and the potential valorization of guilt.

At the moment of birth, one is endowed with »luggage«; a patrimony of past, historic or religious events that influence the entire life. Hetzel starts from his very own guilt »package« and expands it to his fellow citizens. In Schuldfabrik he explores various forms of cleansing to wash away the stains of guilt by proposing contemporary forms of indulgence trade. »Schuld« is a resource that can be capitalized.

Schuldfabrik is a performative installation where «guilt» and «debt» are the raw materials that get manufactured, treated and objectified. Schuldfabrik exists as a multi-room parkour; a concept store, a soap factory and a confessionary. The installation has several entrances yet no way out. In Schuldfabrik the collective obligation to remember is put into dialogue with the individual right to forget.

“Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me”.

The Automated Sniper


In “The Automated Sniper” Julian Hetzel looks into the paradox of warfare and distance on the example of drones. The ever-increasing engagement distance of combat reveals itself as the primary goal in the history of weapon development. It has been a long journey towards the same direction: from fistfights to the use of devices that extend the actual space between the combatants; from knifes to swords to lances to bows to guns to bombs to planes to rockets to drones.  Battle Drones are armed, remote-controlled aircrafts that made the asymmetrical warfare come true. A drone-operator sits in front of  a screen in an air-conditioned room on a military airbase far away from his remote controlled weapon and his enemy that he kills with a click on a joystick. Booom! The ethics of warfare have been gradually yet fundamentally redefined. There is no option to strike back anymore since the adversary has been removed from the battlefield. The idea of the coward and the hero is merging into one.

The Automated Sniper” is a performative installation on militainment and warfare that explores the oscillating relation between the virtual and the real. Seeing is the primary tool for sensory engagement in drone operation. The work of the drone operator is both virtual and actual. The image is not immediate or real, but abstract and digital. Yet it unfolds in real-time. Seeing becomes doing. Watching becomes killing. In “The Automated Sniper” the gamification of violence is brought on stage. The performance is a battle and the stage is the battlefield. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.


Sculpting Fear

Here we are. We crossed the end. There is an app for everything, for the weather forecast, for the next date, for controlling the pulse, for the way home, for counting the steps. Nobody needs to get lost anymore. Nobody needs to get wet. Nobody needs to be alone. Nobody needs to know. Everything is under control. All data – big or small – are in the cloud. Everything is transparent yet nothing can be seen.

Sculpting Fear consists of two related yet separate parts: a performance (for the stage) and a public intervention (for the streets of a city). Both are complementary elements that tackle different aspects of the matter.


We live in a time of scenarios and simulations. In an increasingly complex world we are asking for transparency, for clarification and simplicity. We are afraid of what we don’t know, of what we don’t see. We look away from what is in front of our very eyes since we are facing the black mirror of the screen. It is the fear of the unknown, of the stranger, of the Other, of the future that makes us shiver. In this project Julian Hetzel highlights the dark side of the human condition while his performers explore the physicality of fear.

Sculpting Fear is a highly visual piece that uses ephemeral structures in order to give shape to the formless. A starting point for the performance is the omnipresent but invisible data cloud. The concept of the cloud links aspects from religion, technology and nature. Hetzel generates storms and works with weather conditions towards primal fear in a vaporized scenography. Sculpting fear takes the spectator where all colors agree – in the dark.


In the public interventions Hetzel creates a rupture in the accelerated flow of the city life. Please take a look at the interventions page.




STILL – The Economy of Waiting

An interpassive performative installation on waiting.

STILL is a performative installation about time. Housed inside an array of ten shipping containers placed on a public square, the installation is open to the public up to eight hours per day. It is a 1:1 tour through a museum-like setting. Five rooms with five different installations, performative situations and tableaux vivants are experienced by the spectator in their very own pace.

The interior is carefully furnished with carpeting, seating accommodations, overhead lighting and wallpaper. It sounds, smells and tastes like the world out there. It is populated by creatures very similar to the people outside of the container – one is in an interim realm. There is nothing to do here except waiting. Waiting, the provocative alternative plan to the daily rat race turns out to be highly diversified: the visitors travel through the spaces, from one time island to the next. STILL  is a museum, a waiting-room, a time-machine, a landscape, an encounter.

STILL is a project about the relation between waiting and labour. Hetzel’s interest in the current transformation of labour into occupation and in waiting as a daily performance in urban life marks the point of departure for this artwork. These two seemingly contradicting concepts, labour and waiting, are juxtaposed in STILL. Labour is usually seen as a dynamic activity. Waiting feels static and is yet a state of transition; between not-yet and no longer. It is the no man’s land between thinking and action. Waiting is a specific form of being in time. By taking his time, Hetzel creates a slowed universe that stays connected with the reality outside of the thin walls of the containers.

The exposed squandering of time is his response to accelerated modes of production. It is an antithesis to a capitalized reality where all processes seek to be optimized, where efficiency is the most relevant maxim. While the moment of crisis has become a sustained state and as such the normal condition, he searches for new systems of value. STILL is an invitation to waste time in a meaningful way.