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Area 7 - St. Matthew's Expedition
Picture: Georg Soulek
Radio plays
Attaistic art
AREA 7 - St. Matthew's Expedition

The Global Oedipal Passion

Whoever moves through Schlingensief's animatographic obstacle course in the Burgtheater auditorium seems to be Parsifal...

By Ronald Pohl, Der Standard

Whoever moves through Schlingensief's animatographic obstacle course in the Burgtheater auditorium seems to be Parsifal: to him time - even if not for long - becomes space. It is a space that has the aura of a great state theatre, which at the same time describes a secular, yet consecrated place.

The visitor who participates in the journey through Area 7 is taken in by a centrifuge of myths that presses him into a tube-like birth canal at the speed of human shit (according to Schlingensief 320,000 km/sec), where advanced video art is confronted with bulk waste artefacts and the sharp edges of broken timber.

A radically altruistic poet once described the Christian God of Creation, with whose abolition Schlingensief is dealing amongst others, as a "dirty pig": The Lord had deliberately placed the genitals where otherwise steaming excrements are evacuated from the human body. Which sick mind may have born such a thought?

Area 7
Installation view: Area 7 - St. Matthew's Expedition, Vienna, 2006

Schlingensief, who well knows about the secular importance of an artist who is liberated from all sacral burdens, cleverly makes the lottery drum spin. In the digestive ducts of his imagination chemical climaxes are ignited: the "poor fool" Parsifal is damned to repeat modernity.

For this purpose he has to enter an "ark", whose structure resembles that of a sacral building, but which blissfully navigates through times and contexts, whenever it is not grounded on Bayreuth's Green Hill, the Mount Ararat of German self-assurance. The visitors of Area 7 should not tend to feel dizzy easily, but must be prepared to faithfully reconstruct at least the seven days of creation in order to enjoy any Teutonic, if not Teutoburg pleasure in Schlingensief's theatre of associations.

Then, however, everything will be good. The scourge of eclecticism, which since Theodor W. Adorno's verdict on the "cultural industry" has generally been under ideological suspicion, reappears as a spinning reanimation mixer. Schlingensief's highly electrifying machinery that makes use of every possible impulse develops the charm of hyper-activism. It stirs up the blood of a modernity that is understood as a pump.

Schlingensief rests on the most doubtful of all commonplaces of art: a place where artistic practices are meant to give access to "undisguised" models for life. Schlingensief's idols are e.g. Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth or Richard Wagner, to mention only a few of them. They live in room-sized stalls of devotion whose visit follows a rite of creative reproduction.

Area 7
Installation view: Area 7 - St. Matthew's Expedition, Vienna, 2006

The visitor meets kittens that have been snapped away from the physicist Schrödinger. He sees department store tents that are called "Administration" and "Obsession" and that are linked with each other by means of ridiculous tunnel constructions. He feels distressed by the aura of fat and felt and vaguely suspects: Schlingensief's genius that can hardly be overestimated is the way in which he evokes the shadows cast by history of art.

At a place where everything converges in an Oedipal way towards the incarnation of an eternally infantile human, nothing has to be "acted" any longer. The performer (Schlingensief) spells out physically doubtful particle indications at the same time with even more occult indications on a quasi "counter-public" draft of history.

In one room of the animatograph, which looks like a chapel with its pews, the patriotic words the unfortunate US President Richard Nixon directed to an astronaut stranded on the moon, are painted on the wall in awkward letters. As everyone knows things turned out in a different way, but according to Schlingensief at least Jesus Christ (!) would have had the possibility to die on the Moon. "To die" means "to survive". For whoever or whatever dies, deserves being recycled on the way of the cross that leads from Bayreuth to the Himalaya via Iceland and Namibia.

Schlingensief says about the core chamber of his installation, which is located more or less at the edge of the stage frame: "I am not interested in the snake biting its own tail, but the snake that kisses and crawls up your arse in order to be resurrected through your own mouth!" The snake's tongue represents the theatre of someone who has overcome the theatre once and forever.

Gallery: Area 7 at the Vienna Burgtheater, Jan. 2006

Additional information on Area 7 - St. Matthew's Expedition

- Area 7 Program Booklet - 96 pages with lots of installation pictures (PDF)
- Schlingensief at Burgtheater Wien - ARTFORUM magazine, May issue 2006
- Bubbling Animatographs - Süddeutsche Zeitung on Area 7
- Grand Master in Making a Mess - The Frankfurter Rundschau on Area 7
- Congestions in Front of the Holy "Archetypal Loo" - Salzburger Nachrichten
- The Global Oedipal Passion - Austrian daily Der Standard on Area 7
- Palpating everything as if it was the first time - Die ZEIT on Area 7
- "The Last Artist" - Austrian magazine "FALTER" on the Area 7 expedition
- Congestions in Front of the Holy "Archetypal Loo" - Salzburger Nachrichten
- Area 7 Gallery II - Impressions of the St. Matthew's Expedition in May 2006
- Area 7 Gallery I - Impressions of the St. Matthew's Expedition in January 2006
- Area 7 Panorama I - Panorama view of the Area 7 installation
- Area 7 Panorama II - Another panorama view of the Area 7 installation
- Burgtheater Vienna - Burgtheater website, ticket sale, schedule, information

Area 7 press reviews

- ARTFORUM 05/2006
- Süddeutsche
- Frankf. Rundschau
- Salzburger Nachr.
- Der Standard
- Die ZEIT

Picture galleries

- Area 7 gallery Jan.
- Area 7 gallery May
- Area 7 Booklet (PDF)

External links

- Burgtheater Vienna
- Filmgalerie 451


St. Matthew's Expedition with Christoph Schlingensief

Cast: Karin Witt, Irm Hermann, Jovita Domingos-Dendo, Patti Smith, Klaus Beyer, Christoph Schlingensief, Bernhard Schütz, Hermann Scheidleder, Björn Thors, Horst Gelonneck, Robert Stadlober, Karin Lischka, Abate Ambachev, Dirk Rohde

Burgtheater Wien
First Expedition at
January 20th, 2006

Christoph Schlingensief

Costumes: Aino Laberenz; Construction: Thekla von Mülheim, Tobias Buser; Dramaturgy: Jörg van der Horst, Joachim Lux, Henning Naß; Video/Cut: Kathrin Krottenthaler; additional Video/Cut: Meika Dresenkamp; Sound: Uwe Altmann; Assistant directors: Barbara Nowotny, Sophia Simitzis; Assistant constructor: Andrea Flachs; Assistant costume designers: Dagmar Bald, Veronika Mund; Assistant video: Marlene Prainsack; Director's trainees: Michael Csar, Sarah Wulbrandt; Construction trainee: Gabriela Neubauer; Dramaturgy trainee: Katharina Zobler; Webdesign: Patrick Hilss

Musicians: Klaus Falschlungerer, Perry Wurzinger, Gerhard Rosner, Muriel Stadelmann, Erik Bilic-Eric, Begleitmusiker Patti Smith: Clementine Gasser, Lenny Dickinson, Andreas Radovan

...and also the "Kunst in Aktion" class of the HBK Braunschweig: Alexandra Heide, Ellen Druwe, Yingmei Duan, Eun Hye Hwang, Tina Kramer, Franziska Pester, Dorothea von Stilfried, Malte Struck, Dennis Feser, Axel Loytved, Mirko Winkel

Stage manager: Roman Dorninger; Technical supervision: Christian Venghaus; Sound: David Müllner, Florian Pilz; Video/Burgtheater: Andreas Ryba, Stefan Göbl; Prop: Martin Dürr; Stage technician: Gerhard Weese