cRIP lab no.1: Σίσυφος – SISYPHUS

performance by John Herman
11.06.2022, Trainingslager Köln, Cologne
documentation: Matthias Drobeck

According to Marx, free sensuous activity is what makes us human. The process in which we find ourselves in dialogue with nature leads us to produce our own physical existence as well as our objective world. Alienation from our product and from ourselves through abstract wage labour results in the loss of connection to society.
But what happens as the producer and the means of production merge, as machines themselves define actions; as artificial intelligence and binary algorithms determine the pace of development and progressively become removed from primordial human thought and action?

To what extent does this define the regulation of the human body by social norms and values, and how does this influence the pursuit of individual and social control of the body?
Are non-normative bodies excluded from free sensuous activity if they do not conform to the postulated norm because of their bodily peculiarities, or if they are supposedly denied sensuous activity because of this?

John Herman explores these and other questions in his performance SISYPHUS — explicitly examining his own supposed ‘disability’ through a performative lens. SISYPHUS is the first in a series of performances under the label ‘cRIP lab’ that explore the variety of physical abilities as an allegory of social diversity.
‘cRIP lab’: A performance project about body and mental diversity, body transitions and future mixed-abled communities.


Saturday, April 9, 2022
On the Rhine waterfront
in Cologne/Niehl

On the occasion of his own birthday, John Herman is looking back on the last 54 years of his life in a meditative performance.
The focus here is not on the ups and downs, but on the missed opportunities in one’s life to have done the right thing at the right moment or to have articulated the right thing at the right moment. In this endeavour, performance artist John Herman is neither concerned with self-flagellation nor with specious arguments about the benefits of quickly forgetting. Rather, he assumes that the encounter with the past makes it possible to consciously experience the present in order to be able to determine the direction into the future.
Especially in times of profound economic and political upheaval on a global scale, such an approach seems more urgent than ever as a way of countering the accompanying individual uncertainties with conscious reflection and deliberate action.
The performance PANTA RHEI – THE THINGS I NEVER TOLD is intended to be an invitation to do so; in the awareness that finding answers to the great questions of our time begins with each and every individual.


Performance by John Herman, 19th July 2021

Photo documentary: Matthias Drobeck
Camera: L. Müller
Editing: John Herman

Wayward interactions with a normative world are often detrimental to the protagonists. From the cradle to the grave, they are subjected to a plethora of mechanisms used to exercise interests and violence, depending on the respective political and economic systems in place. A life outside the norm is often seen as socially incompatible. The docile desire for such a life is accepted, while the zeitgeist of the capitalist lifestyle wallows in conformity and worships the monetization of all spheres of life.
Art is one of the few sanctuaries in which alternative forms of life are tolerated or encouraged, whereby the contradictory confrontation between individual and social needs is as old as the search for alternatives itself.
A sanctuary quickly becomes existential. The sanctuary serves as a “sacred” space that enables individual localisation in the highly charged relationship between past and present. The SAFE HAVEN is a place of return and individual redemption.
In the performance SAFE HAVEN, John Herman examines the need for and the loss of sanctuaries. He uses a performative space that sheltered him from domestic violence in his childhood and then later, in his military activities, guaranteed his very survival.


A performative reflection on the unaesthetic aesthetics of being

Performance by John Herman, 5th March 2021
Documented by Matthias Drobeck
Hosted by PerfocraZE International Artist Residency (pIAR)

Long before the emergence of monotheistic religions, blood was considered to be a medium of vitality often equated with life or even the soul. Innumerable blood cults arose, which attached an expiatory and purifying significance to the shedding of blood by those outside the tribe. In contrast, the shedding of a neighbour’s blood was widely frowned upon and socially sanctioned.
Even in the later materialistic ideologies of the 19th and 20th century, the archaic purification rituals persisted – only romantically transfigured or justified by the supposed superiority of one’s own kind – the interpretations of which even today repeatedly crack the mask of western civilizations.
Based on his extreme experiences in various armed conflicts, in which he participated as a volunteer soldier alongside liberation movements in Africa and the Middle East, John Herman deals with those archaic rituals, their contemporary manifestations and the resulting victim-perpetrator-victim relationships in the performance “BLOOD ON MY SHOULDERS”.
Using the stylistic medium of digital voyeuristic confrontation, the Cologne-based artist and arts activist challenges the supposed luxury of individual-social indolence in the face of local or global events and leaves it to the digital audience to find performative answers to questions about individual responsibilities in the charged relationship between micro-, meso- and macro-levels.


By Vabene Elikem Fiatsi, Thaís De Almeida Prado & John Herman

T H R E E S O M E  is a collaborative performance project developed between John Herman (Cologne, Germany) Thaís Almeida Prado (São Paulo, Brazil) and Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi aka crazinisT artisT (Kumasi, Ghana).

It is a digital performance video created by the three artists – three nationalities, three bodies, three languages, three souls, three spirits – while merging their own stories into multiple layers amidst all complexities.  This video is to reimagine a common place, intimate bodies, and a safe community where all humans converge and experience unconditional love.

It explores and investigates the complexities of racial borders, gender fluidity and sexual taboos through which the artists aim at interrogating and demystifying the conceptions and notions of perfect and imperfect bodies. In other words it is an attempt to dismantle masculinity and femininity as standards for recategorization and definitions for several bodies that exist beyond our imaginations. In fact T H R E E S O M E is an intimate dialogue that seeks to decategorize the bodies making ways for indefinite self proclamations and reenvisioning alternative bodies.

“We are bodies, we are souls, we are spirits, we are humans” proclaimed by the artists as a protest to challenge the heteronormative system and patriarchal structures that violates human rights, freedom and justice.


T H R E E S O M E is a digital collaboration with DI2ª – a virtual occupation that takes place weekly on the YouTube channel PINK UMBRELLAS ART RESIDENCY created by the duo MXM.

PHOENix – “Are we there yet?”

artistic research on / with / in transition

Episode N°1 – Resilience

“Are we there yet?” – artistic research on / with / in transition – is a series of 9 videos, over 9 months, curated by Nora Wagner in the framework of Transition Days.
The video performance “PHOENix”, by John Herman, is about resistance and resilience, the will to survive and the desire for salvation. The video was screened from 07th September until 29th September at neimënster (Luxembourg) in a specially prepared installation inside Salle de greffe.

About PHOENix

What if wars, crises, economic upheavals or other extreme events had different effects on the everyday realities of human life that could take on existential or traumatic dimensions depending on the socio-economic environment?
What if the neoliberal hunger for exponential growth reached its limits, if uncontrollable dynamics such as climate change or pandemics determined the course of history? If Nietzschean ideals like that of a resilient homo economicus became the order of the day? If self-optimisation, resistance to crisis and resilience presented themselves as the answer to the crises in the global system of limitless value creation? What if the ultimate individual adaptation became the comfort zone of dystopian capital, accompanied by the voluntary abandonment of civil liberties, propagated by populist political movements, and thus increasingly assumed the form of a threat to existing democratic systems? What then?
Would it be possible to stop such a gradual process? Could individual demands and the search for answers impact such all-encompassing processes?
John Herman probes these and other questions in his performative works, aware that our own vulnerability can open up space for a change in supposedly entrenched realities. Using forced irritation and reduced stimuli, the performance artist living in Cologne invites us to individually confront the situationist approach of subversive overtones.
With the PHOEnix performance, John Herman and multidisciplinary artist Nora Wagner come together, well aware of the strong impact of artistic intervention, to bring to life these overtones.

PHOEnix, artistic performance, 13 mins.
John Herman feat. Nora Wagner, camera: Kim Al Ouardi


BODY PAINTING: Xandra Herdieckerhoff (
PERFORMER: John Herman
CAMERA: Gerhard Schick (
CUT & EDITING: John Herman

For the the performance video kindly click here:




Body Painting: Xandra Xandra Herdieckerhoff
Photo Documentation: Matthias Drobeck
Video Documentation: Gerhard Schick
Video Cut & Edit: John Herman

Live Stream Documentation: Thomas Reul
Supporter Team: Hasan Hüseyin Deveci, Selina Bonelli, Ilhelm Merabeth, Gitta Roser, Linda Müller

„Homo Consumens is the man whose main goal is not primarily to own things, but to consume more and more, and thus to compensate for his inner vacuity, passivity, loneliness and anxiety. In a society characterized by giant enterprises and giant industrial, governmental and labor bureaucracies, the individual, who has no control over his circumstances of work, feels impotent, lonely, bored, and anxious. At the same time, the need for profit of the big consumer industries, through the medium of advertising, transforms him into a voracious man, an eternal suckling who wants to consume more and more and for whom everything becomes an article of consumption – cigarettes, liquor, sex, movies, television, travel and even education, books and lectures. New artificial needs are created and man’s tastes are manipulated. (The character of homo consumens in its more extreme forms is a well known psycho-pathological phenomenon. It is to be found in many cases of depressed or anxious persons who escape into overeating, overbuying, or alcoholism to compensate for the hidden depression and anxiety.) The greed for consumption, an extreme form of what Freud called the “oral-receptive character,” is becoming the dominant psychic force in present-day industrialized society. Homo consumens is under the illusion of happiness, while unconsciously he suffers from his boredom and passivity. The more power he has over machines, the more powerless he becomes as a human being; the more he consumes, the more he becomes a slave to the ever increasing needs which the industrial system creates and manipulates. He mistakes thrill and excitement for joy and happiness and material comfort for aliveness; satisfied greed becomes the meaning of life, striving for it a new religion. The freedom to consume becomes the essence of human freedom.”



(online) art performance by John Herman

3th July 2020, Barnes Crossing, Cologne


In many cultures, hair symbolizes spiritual and sexual power. A hairstyle can often be synonymous with individual freedom or even a sign of belonging to a group. Equally, the erasure of this symbolism may serve as punishment, cleansing, or even a new positioning. Such rituals lead to others that are intended to open the way for a transition from the status quo to a new level. The performative power of the ritual thus becomes an allegory of life, survival and death.

Based on the preparations for his HOMO CONSUMENS performance, John Herman addresses rites of passage that, similar to art, create a shift to another reality in RITUALS OF TRANSITION.

The boundaries between the private and public are thereby blurred as the private is made public and the public private in a meditative experiment.

A R T  L I K E  A  B U L L E T  I N  Y O U R  H E A D


By Hasan Hüseyin Deveci & John Herman, 24th May 2018, Cologne
Music: Rage Against The Machine – Bullet In Your Head

TABLE OF NEGOTIATION – Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi & John Herman

25th August 2019
Collaborative Performance by
Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi [crazinisT artisT] (Kumasi, Ghana)
John Herman (Cologne, Germany)
Documentation by Julia Gyemant
Cut & Editing: John Herman
Represented by Perforcraze International Artist residency (pIAR)

Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi [crazinisT artisT] and John Herman’s collaboration explores the notion of imperfections, ‘sick-cursed bodies’ and bodies labeled as disable and taboos in relation to those patriarchal structures that seek to validate our being. The duo inserts their bodies in the vitruvian geometries as symbols of disruption, failure, contamination and incomplete beings struggling to survive, reaching seemingly structures that controls their narratives and those that idealised our collective sense of belonging and becoming. Both artists seemed enveloped in shame, rejections and inferiority while negotiating for their own placement within such elements and spaces that do not necessarily make provisions for their existence. crazinisT and John Herman investigate how imperfect bodies emerge in relation to idealised “man” to which our [being] is geometrically placed and defined by the [lacks] the refineries that reproduce masculinity, femininity, queerness and “weirdness” and potency.


By John Herman
22th August 2019, Ussher Fort, Accra-Ghana
Documented by Julia Gyemant and Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi
Empowered by Perforcraze International Artist Residency (pIAR)

Ussher Fort is a colonial fort in Accra, Ghana. It was built by the Dutch in 1649. The fort previously served as a prison, until 1993. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and a fore figure in the struggle for independence, was imprisoned there during the colonial era.
Every year the fort opens the door to the annual Chale Wote Street Art Festival for exhibitions, installations and performances regards to the healing power of art.
“BURNING WHITE TRASH MAN” is an art intervention piece based on John Herman’s experience as an inmate (POW) in prison, where he got tortured and raped for 33 days because of his political-military activities alongside different revolutionary freedom movements in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The performance explores the multiple ties between personal and collective trauma, perpetrators and victims, and the struggle with one’s own demons and the ghosts of the past.


Art Performance by John Herman

9th August 2019 – Kumasi Ghana

Kumasi is the former capital of the Ashanti Empire, which persisted from the late 17th century until the middle of the 20th century and since 1957 has been part of a state union with Ghana under the name Ashanti Region.
John Herman tookes his first stay in Kumasi as an opportunity to interactively explore the public space there – a historical construct of social, economic and political processes – and its visual structure with a body-focussed performance. The personal attempt to understand urban space and its people inevitably leads to an examination of past and modern slavery, the consequences of colonialism and globalisation. The performance artist is not free in his actions but, like everyone, carries heavy responsibility for the direct and indirect consequences of historical construction. The performance ɔsaNTI (Because of War) symbolizes the very individual path of everyone to their personal Golgotha and the desire for salvation. | “ADEAKYEABIA ENUBUEKE (ANOTHER DAY HAS COME) by perforcraZe International Artist Residency – (pIAR), Kumasi/Ghana 

f a k e NEW(s) 2.0 or the Suicide of Western Culture

Art Performance by Hasan Hüseyin Deveci & John Herman

TIME FOR OUTRAGE FESTIVAL 2019, 04 th July 2019, Venue: K101 Bunker, Cologne-Germany

The term “fake news” has gained popularity since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s presumed meddling in the campaign. According to the German government, “troll armies” and “fake news” on social media are a threat to democracy. They are perceived as an external threat — an enemy from cyberspace.

It is often forgotten that opinion campaigns have always been part of the repertoire of political, economic and military conflicts. Social media are just another field, in which the dynamics of political suggestion and autosuggestion are particularly effective.

The art performance “fakeNEW(s) 2.0” may reflect this phenomenon in its name, but actually seeks to illuminate the actions of individuals in this context and encourage self-reflection on the desire to engage in gossip, slander and prejudice.

In this performance, visual artist Hasan Hüseyin Deveci and performance artist John Herman worked with materials including newspaper, paint, canvas and glue. The performance ended after 1 hour.




The shimmering transparent world of digital possibilities seduces our senses and takes us into glittering distance and dazzling dimensions. Our data are rapidly developing their own logical systems, which have long been beyond our imagination. Space and time expand into infinity and evaporate into illusions – elicit from us a pleasant inner smile and promise the fulfilment of all our desires and longings.

Microchips and implants are entering our organism in order to optimize the parameters for our health. Highly developed chip-controlled leg or myoelectric arm prostheses open up the as yet unimagined possibilities of “technical bodies”. The vision of a “normal ideal” is created – our small everyday cosmos mutates into a world with unlimited possibilities. A fiction becomes reality: the technologically improved human being – hybrid being – the creation of parahuman beings according to ideal norm.

Performers: John Herman, Damiaan Veens, Ashraf Albesh, Charlotte Virgile, Shiori Harms, Philine Herrlein | Artistic Director: Gerda König | Choreography: Gerda König, Gitta Roser | Dramatic Composition: Ilona Pászthy | Music: Frank Schulte // Scenery: miegL | Costume: Thomas Wien-Pegelow | Artistic Lightining Design: Gerd Weidig // Production Manager: Anastasia Olfert // Producer: Rolf Emmerich // Company Managment: Anika Bendel


T H E  A R T I S T  I S  A N  I N S T R U M E N T


By Hasan Hüseyin Deveci & John Herman
24th May 2018, Cologne


Camera: Hayri Erdogan, Baris
Photo Documentary: Matthias Drobeck
Cut & Editing: John Herman
Assistants: Mete Tuncer, Rivan




What connects artists and warriors? What do war and art have in common? How can inherently destructive processes be transformed into prosperity and construction through creative expression?
In a collaborative art performance, Hasan Hüseyin Deveci and John Herman intend to explore these questions and others in order to challenge the established boundaries between performance art and fine art. In this provocative piece, the studio artist (Hasan Hüseyin Deveci) and the performance artist (John Herman) search for a common ground between these creative practices, and in effect they bring to light the contractionary relationship between permanence and ephemerality in art.
The body of a war veteran becomes an instrument of art as John Herman gives himself to the hands of Hasan Hüseyin Deveci. Hasan Hüseyin Deveci then implements this body into his art work, creating new structures and expressing new potentials with this organic material. In the process, the two transform the soldier’s body—a tool of destruction and power—using an emergent constructive context. This interaction between organic material, movement, and colour intends to open a new space, where normally hidden processes of transformation are made visible, inspiring individual reflection on the complexity of processes of transition themselves.
The artists worked with materials like ripped canvas stripes, canvas, paper, card, acrylic paint and textile. The performance ended after 1 hour.

M A K I N‘  H I S T O R Y 2.0

31th Jan 2018, Cologne
by John Herman
documented by Matthias Drobeck

The performance ‚Makin’ History 2.0’ explored the multiple social-cultural ties between the single individual and history as a concept of social construction. While hopelessly pushing, pulling and lifting wooden cubes, I attempted to make the invisible circle of individual deeds visible and question its limited impact on the ‚surreal‘ perception of history as an act of social construction and its descructive patriarchal, sexist and capitalist backgrounds. I worked with materials like wooden cubes with a weight of 35 kilos each, oil, ashes and wore only a jockstrap. The performance ended after 2 hours.

„N E I N“ – NO means NO – Solmaz Vakilpour & John Herman

Camera: Herand Müller-Scholtes

Cut & Editing: John Herman

“We must say “no” to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say “no” to doing things out of obligation. We must say “no” to treating ourselves. We have to learn to say „no“ to all what’s treating life. Say „no“ and the world starts to change. Don’t scare, SAY „NO“. Another world is possible. ….



crazinisT artisT [Vabene Elikem Fiatsi] & John Herman
CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival 2017
19th August 2017,
James Fort Prison,
Accra, Ghana
(Camera: Alissa Jordan; Photo credit: Regina Sebald)


This performance explores human vulnerability, death, life struggles, failures, the-will-to-survive and the aesthetics to human BONDS…
While searching hopelessly in the mud and bones for everything but nothing, we attempt to reexamine the human sense of incompleteness and otherness. We both struggle our way out onto the street after several hours of failures in the prison- mud, walking, falling, crawling and dragging ourselves to a distance of 700m where the performance ended lasting for about 3 hours sustaining bruises and cuts all over our bodies.


Bond[H2o] – CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival 2017

crazinisT artisT [Vabene Elikem Fiatsi] & John Herman
CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival 2017
19th August 2017,
James Fort Prison,
Accra, Ghana
(Camera: Alissa Jordan; Photo credit: Regina Sebald)


This performance explores human vulnerability, death, life struggles, failures, the-will-to-survive and the aesthetics to human BONDS…
While searching hopelessly in the mud and bones for everything but nothing, we attempt to reexamine the human sense of incompleteness and otherness. We both struggle our way out onto the street after several hours of failures in the prison- mud, walking, falling, crawling and dragging ourselves to a distance of 700m where the performance ended lasting for about 3 hours sustaining bruises and cuts all over our bodies.



The human mammalian does not exist alone; a number of factors, circumstances, and constructs solidify our identity as human beings betwixt one another; society, tribes, family, relatives, customs and traditions, political economy, political powers, social constructs, gender roles, cultural and social beliefs, religions and climatic conditions. Variations in such practices, experiences, and conditions contribute to the huge diversity so evident in humanity, becoming a vivid [biomatrix] that is connected, contradictory, and ever-transforming. Yet in spite of this vast diversity in human life, there is a common string that ties together humans, mamalians, and other beings— [Water]. Ever since their beginnings, human mammals have sought freedom and justice, and yet since their beginning these passionate desires have collided with the invisible boundaries of society. In colliding with them, however, we make these once-hidden boundaries visible and we can act on them and overcome them.
“crazinisT artist”, Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (Kumasi, Ghana) and John Herman (Cologne, Germany) will put up a durational performance and living installation during the 7th edition of Chale Wote Art Festival, Wata Mata.
Our collaborative performance questions the borders, migrations, wars and deaths, the utopian spaces and lives, as well as the cultural repressions and class privileges that structure internal mobilities in other ways. It is an investigative commentary into how water — a veritable common denominator of our shared existence—binds social ecologies together in ways that nurture peacable interchange as well as provide deadly routes for unmaking lives through invasions, illegal mining, or pollution in economically less privileged communities.


Bond[H2o] – Pre-Performance – CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival 2017

„You are water. I’m water. We’re all water in different containers. That’s why it’s so easy to meet. Someday we’ll evaporate together.“ – Yoko Ono

crazinisT artisT [Vabene Elikem Fiatsi] & John Herman
CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival 2017
James Fort Prison, 
Accra, Ghana
(Camera: Alissa Jordan, Edit: John Herman)


WAR & PEACE – Solmaz Vakilpour and John Herman

A Performance Art Collaboration between Solmaz Vakilpour and John Herman by WARLESS DAY

War Child meets Ex-Soldier and War Veteran – A Story about Guilt and Forgiveness | Camera by Herand Müller-Scholtes | Cut & Editing by John Herman | „No problem is solved on the logical level in which it exists. When, on a meta level, we comprehend war or violence as one form of communication, the imagination transcends destructive interaction and empowers an integrative level of constructive dialogue intent on achieving reconciliation and concluding with honorable peace. Another World is possible.“

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