Review: Schuldfabrik

A fascinating idea taken to extreme lengths

theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
32239 large
Photo by Ben and Martin Photography
Published 07 Mar 2019

Schuldfabrik is many things; a legal lesson; a meditation on guilt; an art installation. But more than anything, it's a sales pitch. The creator Julian Hetzel wants us to consider turning guilt into a natural resource like wind or oil. He wants us to transform our guilt into a positive force and he's doing that by turning human fat into soap.

The various rooms of this installation delve into different aspects of the enterprise. There are displays of soap making equipment and legal contracts for the acquisition of the human fat, which is a byproduct of liposuction. A surgeon explains the medical procedure and performs liposuction on a model so realistic that one member of the audience faints.

Other rooms take the subject matter less literally and invite the audience to confess their sins or visit a sweatshop, but ultimately the aim is to make us think about how we all interact with our guilt and examine whether it can be used to make the world a better place.

It's an appealing concept, and one that is put into action in the non-ticketed part of this installation. The performance begins and ends at SELF, a concept store selling the bars of soap and using the proceeds to provide clean drinking water for communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.