By Robert Hilferty
“Mozart-Balls’,’ an unrelentingly offensive and funny exhibition perched high above Salzburg at the Museum der Moderne, features the composer in various sex acts and a room filled with hundreds of chocolate bunnies.
Created by Christoph Schlingensief, best known for turning the stomachs of sensitive Wagnerians with an image of a worm- riddled rabbit in his current Bayreuth production of “Parsifal’,’ the show’s many targets include the Salzburg Festival and chief sponsor Siemens AG. In one part of the show, a Siemens blender churns up Mozart dolls, kugel, eggs, sheet music and “I love Mozart” postcards. There’s also a fetishistic corner featuring “Mozart’s first golden toilet”.
I spoke by phone with Schlingensief, 46.
Hilferty: The title of your installation derives from those ubiquitous chocolate balls the Austrians and Germans call Mozart Kugeln. Are you deliberately being provocative?
Schlingensief: As the son of a pharmacist, I knew my father poisoned his customers with small doses. I’m not provoking but poisoning with small doses of provocation.
Hilferty: Are you attacking Mozart?
Schlingensief: What remains of Mozart here in Salzburg is just sugarcoating, which people love to lick. They don’t look for what’s underneath. You never get close to what Mozart was really like.
Hilferty: What was he really like?
Schlingensief: Mozart had more crap in his head and life than people can see or want to see. He was having lots of sex and had lots of fun with men and women. He was polymorphously perverse.
Hilferty: You portray Mozart as an Asian man masturbating, not to mention other unspeakable acts. Why?
Schlingensief: Because Japanese people play an important role in Salzburg. For them it’s some sort of Mozart Disneyland. So it was intentional to have an Asian man. He’s actually a student from Berlin, who was financing his studies with this shoot.
Hilferty: In another video, you have someone impersonating Hitler banging out Mozart’s famous “Marcia alla turca” on a harpsichord.
Schlingensief: Actually, that’s me playing. When I was young, I was forced to play it. I wanted to play the “Pathetique” but I was not allowed. I always had to play “alla turca’.’
Hilferty: I take it your point is that Hitler co-opted Mozart when the Nazis annexed Austria and the Salzburg Festival?
Schlingensief: Yes. The same thing happened with Wagner.
Hilferty: And what’s with all these chocolate bunnies?
Schlingensief: That goes back to Bayreuth. At the end of my production of “Parsifal” there’s video projection of a dead rabbit with worms coming out of its body. The Wagnerians hated this image.
Hilferty: I can see why.
Schlingensief: But if “Parsifal” is about redemption, and Easter is about redemption, then the bunny, which is an Easter symbol, is also about redemption, right?
Hilferty: But why hundreds of redemptive bunnies here?
Schlingensief: The bunny is also a fertility symbol, in Buddhism and elsewhere. The numbers correspond to the Fibonacci series, which reflects cell division in reproduction. This is always happening in the testicles.
Hilferty: Hence the title of the show. You also emphasize Mozart’s testicles in the revolving “animatograph.”
Schlingensief: You can walk in, and it’s like a private Imax cinema. Politics, economics, culture and aspects of Mozart’s private life are layered on top of each other. I made my first animatograph in Bayreuth as a solution to the static situation onstage in “Parsifal” where everybody hardly moves. With the revolving stage, plus multiple projections, you can have constant movement to match the music.
Hilferty: What’s coming next?
Schlingensief: In Berlin, on Sept. 13, there will be a big installation called “Kaprow City” based on Allan Kaprow’s “happenings”. In October, I will mount “The Last Hour of Lady Diana” in London. I have very interesting information that she really died in London, not in Paris, and reconstruct this new truth.
Hilferty: That should raise some eyebrows. One last question: Would you have sex with Mozart if you had the chance?
Schlingensief: It’s very difficult for me to say. I think I want to have sex with Wagner more. Or, better yet, I want to have sex with Wagner and Nietzsche together with Franz Liszt taking photos.