The Automated Sniper


Winner of the VSCD Mime Award 2017

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.


VSCD Mime Prijs – Jury Statement :

“Julian Hetzel verweeft geweld, spel en kunst tot een slimme, gelaagde performance. Bas van Rijnsoever en Claudio Ritfeld bouwen kunstzinnige objecten, die zich in een kwetsbare balans ternauwernood staande houden. De stem van Ana Wild trekt vervolgens het publiek mee in een spel waarbij toeschouwers met een paintball-installatie de kunstobjecten neerknallen. Een overtuigende performance die de betekenis van oorlog fysiek invoelbaar maakt en bovendien een bijzondere ode brengt aan de (overlevings)kracht en noodzaak van kunst.”


**** Theaterkrant review



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 their potential valorisation. Schuldfabrik proposes contemporary forms of indulgence trade. In collaboration with plastic surgeons and their clients, Julian Hetzel created a soap from human fat that is sourced from liposuctions. “Self – Human Soap” is made from people for people.

Schuldfabrik is a multi-room parkour; a soap shop, a beauty clinic, a confessionary and a sustainable system of up-cycling guilt. 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”.

* * * * *   Volkskrant
* * * *   Theaterkrant

Text by Pieter T’Jonck for Rekto:Verso



Pentatones is a music collective from Berlin, Amsterdam and Leipzig. The Band emerged from the fertile grounds tilled by the artistic scene around Jena-based label Freude am Tanzen and Weimar’s Bauhaus University.


New mini album: “What if” out now!


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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.