J&J (Jessica Huber (CH) / James Leadbitter (GB))

Tender Provocations of Hope and Fear

Performance / Participation

Fear rules the world. J&J oppose this trend with an evening about hope. Three performers and a priest face their own fears and talk about searching, finding, losing, and reviving hope.

Tender Provocations of Hope and Fear (Foto: J&J)


Festival centre at Palais Attems

Social Muscle Club

Where Are We Now?

Austrian premiere


Thu 28/09 & Sat 30/09, 21.00

Festival centre


10 €


German and English language with German and English translation

The framework for these touching performances is the long-term project “The Art of a Culture of Hope”, that Jessica Huber and James Leadbitter initiated in 2016 with the aim of opposing the politics of fear with a narrative of hope. Amidst a news situation dominated by forced migration, the destabilisation of Europe, increasing nationalism, and the erosion of human rights, they ask the crucial questions: What are the causes of fear and what effects does it have on us? How do we deal with it? What might a space for hope and potential look like? A space in which ideas can arise for a different future?

J&J collect answers and new questions in the workshop “Space for Hope”, in an archive for all kinds of donations of hope and by means of what participants and the audience of the “Tender Provocations of Hope and Fear” are willing to share. The evening features three prominent exponents of the European performance scene, Kim Noble, Jeremy Wade and the vacuum cleaner, accompanied by a specialist for questions of hope, the Christian priest Janet Hephzibah Ashton. In their performances and lectures they talk about personal and imagined experiences of fear and hope – on the battlefield, in the psychiatric clinic or when faced with the serious illness of their own child. Inner conflicts, worries, self-reproaches, and accusations against others are revealed.

The long-term project is planned to conclude with a very real undertaking: the artist duo intends to initiate a referendum in Switzerland to include a collectively written paragraph in the constitution that declares the Culture of Hope as a fundamental right. Although the goal may sound grand, J&J are serious.

Concept and artistic direction Jessica Huber, James Leadbitter
Set design and artistic collaboration Gabriela Rutz with Ramin Mosayebi
With Janet Hephzibah Ashton, Kim Noble, the vacuum cleaner, Jeremy Wade
Music My Friend Peter

In cooperation with Gessnerallee Zürich, Roxy Theater Basel & Südpol Luzern
With support of Fachstelle Kultur Kanton Zürich, Stadt Zürich Kultur, Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia, Migros Kulturprozent / Prärie

steirischer herbst
Project management Roland Gfrerer
Technical management Karl Masten


Jessica Huber, born in 1978, is a Zurich-based performance and installation artist. She studied choreography and dance at the Laban Centre London and City University of London before shifting the focus of her artistic work to performance art. In 2005 she co-founded the mercimax collective which won the 2012 City of Zurich Cultural Award for Theatre for its “Die Gegenüberstellung” series (2011). In 2016 Huber joined forces with British performance artist and activist James Leadbitter (alias the vacuum cleaner) to launch “The Art of a Culture of Hope” project. Under the pseudonym J&J the duo has been creating a network of performances, lectures, and workshops which will be premièring in Austria in the form of the “Tender Provocations of Hope and Fear” project.