The Mole Keeps on Digging

Animals / Politics / Performance

Giant fluffy animals roll rocks through their cave, rejoice at the sight of earthworms, make music, and copulate. What, however, appears cute at first, goes on with a massacre and ends with psychedelic sounds. How much human is in a mole, how much mole in a human being? 
With its figure of the blind tunnel digger, director and artist Philippe Quesne’s last piece "La Nuit des taupes" ("Night of the Moles") opens up a new imaginative perspective: from below, one glances upwards, from the underworld to the surface. "I want to understand," Quesne remarks, "how to protect myself from the world and disconnect myself from it, how to think about it from below rather than above." While moles are typically known to be solitary animals, in Quesne’s piece they build a community. And yet they are not simply allegoric figures resembling humankind. They are human and animal at once. The experimental setting of the cave raises an essential question: how can new forms of co-habitation arise from and thrive in unconventional contexts? 

Evading human sight, the mole is at once present and absent. Because of its life in caves and its only visible trace, the molehill, it has often been turned into a metaphorical figure representing numerous political, literary, and theoretical ideas. For Marx, the image of the “old mole” describes a person who does not tire to undermine the system, for Kafka the “giant mole” stands for cognitive dissonance and radical subjectivity, Deleuze dismisses the mole fully and turns to the snake instead, noting that its flexibility and agility far exceeds that of the mole. In order to continue this multi-facetted history of ideas and re-investigate the co-habitation of human beings and animals, the festival "The Mole keeps on Digging" elaborates on the imaginary concept that human beings have drawn around the animalistic (mole) figure. In various artistic and theoretical interventions, we invite a change of perspectives and attempt to uncover a tunnel system to an alternative conception of who “we” are. Taking Quesne’s figure of the mole as a starting point, the festival “The Mole Keeps on Digging” focuses on a different relation between human and animal, but also questions the meaning of non-identical forms of community through theatre, dance, discourse, music, and installation.

Das Tier sind wir

Discursive programme as part of the festival “The Mole Keeps on Digging. Animals / Politics / Performance"

In seven lectures theorists investigate the (social) figure of the mole from various perspectives. In his opening lecture, the zoologist, philosopher and journalist Cord Riechelmann takes a look at the real life of moles, exploring what we might learn from them. Curator Raluca Voinea pursues the mole in relation to apocalypses, while media theorist Felix Stalder retraces the figure of the whistleblower. Originating from Platon’s cave, Bruno Latour together with director Frédérique Aït-Touati developed a spectacular lecture-performance. Philosopher Oxana Timofeeva compares three conceptual (animal) metaphors – Hegel’s Owl of Minerva, Benjamin’s Angel of History, and Marx’s Old Mole. She joins the philosopher, curator and artist Fahim Amir, who perceives pigeons as "flying moles" and understands them as multi-polar compasses of contemporary animal politics. They will discuss questions of history, truth, and the coproduction of real utopias. Jack Halberstaminvestigates the animal-revolutionary potential of animated films.


The festival is supported within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and by the Federal Agency for Civic Education.