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Student Portrait: Yannick Maria Reimers – An Awareness of the world and values

2019-08-06 Artist and Cultural Studies student Yannick Maria Reimers unites commitment and education through art. In their KulTour Project, fostering social commitment as well as living democracy and togetherness take center stage.

Guest author: Maryann Henck

As a genderfluid person – in other words, someone with a shifting gender identity – Reimers prefers the inclusive pronoun “they.” Above all they’re a human being and would like to be recognized for their actions and thinking because their inner essence and their values have always remained the same.

I became acquainted with Yannick Maria Reimers in my seminar, “Dramatize This! Reading, Writing, and Performing for the Stage and Screen.” When I happened to hear that they were offering a seminar in the alternative teaching program (“Design your Life – Utopia for Identity and Emotions”), I decided to visit it. In this seminar, students could participate in workshops for potential development (e.g. through acting and creative writing) to discover and experience facets of their own identity.

On the day of our interview, Yannick Maria Reimers is wearing a black T-shirt with “New York” in rainbow colors printed on it. “Columbia University is my next goal right after my first one: Oxford,” they explain. They would like to expand their cinematic expertise in New York and continue to research the issues of identity and emotions in Oxford. “Academic expertise would give me the chance to bring about change to a greater extent. What are humans all about? Who could we be? What brings us together with each other? Documentaries and films appeal to me because they visualize these possibilities in a very emotional manner. You can move many people. I’d like to make very personal films that make a difference. Only what comes from the heart can have an effect on the heart.”

In 2012 they witnessed a right-wing attack at the dedication of the monument for forced laborers in Bergedorf. As a result of this experience, they wrote the play, The Breathing Wall, which deals with relationships in extreme situations as well as exclusion. For this play, they won the Bertini Award for moral courage in 2014.
“After the attack, I had to do something. When you experience something like that, you can’t carry on as if nothing happened; you’d like to change something. With Colors of My Soul, I wrote a new play to process the suicide of a very feminine friend.  This plays deals more strongly with the issues of identity and gender. I sense the audience’s consternation at the readings. They know that it’s not a made-up story; it’s authentic – the text bleeds. That’s why I always start off with a reading of one of my plays at my KulTour Project.

Raising Awareness

Following the performance of their plays, an exchange always takes place with the audience about their own experiences with hostilities. Politicians such as Katharina Fegebank, the Second Mayor of the Free and Hanseastic City of Hamburg, support Reimers’ KulTour Project. Together with the European Parliament and the United Nations, Reimers would like to conduct a project revolving around the issues of diversity, encounters, and love. Additionally, they’d like to implement this project in educational institutions to motivate people to take action for more togetherness. “In my ProfessionalDreamer Program, everyone has a voice, and our voices blend together in harmony – a harmony that changes something – in us and partially something in the resonance chamber of our little personal world. Whether they build a community center, plan a lecture series, or even start their own project, we help with the development process and getting started with matters of the heart and dreams.”
Reimers attempts to combine psychoanalysis, neurology, and cultural studies with theater and creative writing for their educational work. Education and practice are not a duality but a unity.  They also attempt to overcome the duality of gender. “Although we construct our gender in terms of male and female in our minds, we are also capable of thinking and feeling other differentiations: Men also have soft sides and women rough edges. Whoever doesn’t fit into this binary pattern, doesn’t have it easy, and that’s where a third facet can be helpful to escape from being pigeonholed. Apart from the fact that you can’t change your chromosomes and have to accept that you won’t become a cis-woman with an X and a Y chromosome.”
About 200 high school students were involved in their first KulTour event. Now Reimers will continue to cooperate more closely with universities and international partners. For this reason, they’d absolutely love to win over both Columbia and Oxford. Especially since Reimers’ heart beats for the local culture and their role models, Siri Hustvedt and Elif Shafak, who worked at these institutions. “These two exceptional artists and researchers show that art and scholarship as well as emotion and awareness should not be considered separately from one another. They write stories and essays, which change the world through their writing style, their topics, and their souls. Role models are extremely important for developing your own attitude and not feeling alone with your passion.”

Plenty of Support

In order to raise awareness, they developed a documentary about experiences of identity for which they have already interviewed academics and artists such as Dr. Siri Hustvedt, Dr. Elif Shafek, and Professor Dr. Dr. Gerald Hüther. “In this work, we are researching what already exists and releasing potential for action through awareness. However, I also like venture into the unpredictable because there you can be amazed in a different way. My first KulTour fell under the theme of respect; now it will continue with love. In the future, I would like to connect my research areas to sustainability and the environment.”

Yannick Maria Reimers knows what they want and have – with their passion – won over many people for commitment to a better world. Their main sponsors are Professor Dr. Michael Otto and Alexander Birken from the Otto Group, who sponsored the project launch with € 10,000. Anja Reschke, the Director of Domestic Politics at NDR, moderated the closing ceremony of their KulTour. They read their play together with Isabella Vértes-Schütter, the Artistic Director of Ernst Deutsch Theater, which is known for its commitment against National Socialism, and Ute Hanning, a member of the ensemble a the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg. For Reimers, it’s never about namedropping; instead it’s about the impact of well-known faces and their hearts. “I only work together with people who have a good character and who truly want to make a difference.”

Reimers‘ next KulTour: September 1, 2019 | 3 – 7 p.m. | Kulturhaus Serrahn (Serrahnstraße 1, Hamburg) | Information/Registration: professionaldreamer@web.de


Links

Major Cultural Studies
Language Center
KulTour (Video)

 

The author is a lecturer of English and North American Studies in the Language Center.