||Christoph Maria Schlingensief
24 October 1960
||21 August 2010
Christoph Maria Schlingensief (24 October 1960, Oberhausen – 21 August 2010, Berlin) was a German film and theatre director, actor, artist, and author. Starting as an independent underground filmmaker, Schlingensief later began staging productions for theatres and festivals, which often were accompanied by public controversies. In the final years before his death, he also worked for opera houses, and tried to establish himself as an artist.
As a young man he organized art events in the cellar of his parents house, and local artists such as Helge Schneider or Theo Jörgensmann performed in his early short films.
Schlingensief considered himself a 'provocatively thoughtful' artist. He created numerous controversial and provocative theatre pieces as well as films, his former mentor being filmmaker and media artist Werner Nekes. Already his debut feature film, the surreal, absurd experimental Tunguska - Die Kisten sind da! ("Tunguska - The Crates Are Delivered!", 1984) was well-received by critics.
Growing up in the shadow of the New German Cinema, Schlingensief was deeply influenced by the likes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder - many members of whose stock company of actors such as Udo Kier, Margit Carstensen, Irm Hermann or Volker Spengler became regulars in Schlingensief's films - or Alexander Kluge, with whom he collaborated on numerous occasions. To said period of film, Schlingensief delivered both a heartfelt homage as well as the final coup de grâce with "The 120 Days of Bottrop" - starring Helmut Berger - in much the same way he dealt with German avant-garde cinema 15 years earlier with his first feature film „Tunguska – The Crates Are Delivered“ starring Alfred Edel. Other influences include Luis Buñuel, Werner Schroeter or Herbert Achternbusch - and Schlingensief's filmic works have been compared to just as wide a range of filmmakers, from Jean-Luc Godard to Russ Meyer.
It was with his "Germany Trilogy", consisting of "100 Years Adolf Hitler - The Last Hour in the Führerbunker", "The German Chainsaw Massacre - The First Hour of the Reunification" and "Terror 2000 - Germany out of Control" that Schlingensief came to prominence. Since then he shaped the cultural and political discourse in Germany for more than two decades and established himself as one of the country's most important and versatile artists.
It deals with three turning points in 20th century German history: the first movie Hundert Jahre Adolf Hitler ("A Hundred Years of Adolf Hitler", 1989) covers the last hours of Adolf Hitler, the second Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker ("The German Chainsaw-Massacre", 1990), depicts the German reunification of 1990 and shows a group of East-Germans who cross the border to visit West-Germany and get slaughtered by a psychopathic West German family with chainsaws, and the third Terror 2000 (1992) focuses on xenophobic violence after the reunification process.
In 2004, at the invitation of Wolfgang and Katharina Wagner and to rave reviews, he staged Richard Wagner's Parsifal for the Bayreuth Festival. This production, in the first years conducted by Pierre Boulez, was revived in 2005 and 2006, but unlike other Bayreuth Festival stagings it was not filmed.
One of Schlingensief's central tactics was to call politicians' bluff in an attempt to reveal the inanities of their "responsible" discourse, a tactic he called "playing something through to its end". This strategy was most notable in his work Please Love Austria (alternately named Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container) at the time of the FPO and OVP coalition in Austria, a work which attracted international support, a media frenzy and countless debates about art practice.
Schlingensief also directed a version of Hamlet, subtitled, This is your Family, Nazi-line, which premiered in Switzerland, the so-called neutral territory equated with the Denmark of the opening line in Shakespeare's play where there is something foul afoot. Events around the piece questioned and attacked Switzerland's 'neutrality' in the face of growing racism and extreme right wing movements. It also involved former members of Neo Nazi groups, allowing them to play out their own weaknesses in the terms of the characters in the drama, and led to him founding a centre for former members to "de-brief".
Schlingensief's work covered a variety of media, including installation and the ubiquitous 'talk show' and has in many cases led to audience members leaving the theatre space with Schlingensief and his colleagues to take part in events such as Passion Impossible, Wake Up Call for Germany 1997 or Chance 2000, Vote for Yourself in which he formed his own party where anyone could become a candidate themselves in the run up to the federal election of 1998 in Germany. With his demands for people to "prove they exist" in an age of total TV coverage and "act, act, act" in the sense of becoming active not 'actors', his work could be considered a direct legacy of Bertolt Brecht, as it demands involvement as opposed to passivity and merely looking on as is the case in traditional text-based theatre. In an age of extreme media fatigue, his was a fresh voice albeit and undisputedly containing echoes of the past, often humorous and subversive yet never cynical. His influences included Joseph Beuys and his idea of social sculpture, and artists Allan Kaprow and Dieter Roth.
In his last productions, such as the fluxus oratorio Church of Fear and the ready made opera Mea culpa, he staged his own cancer experience, and related it to his first 'stage experience' as a young altar boy. In this time he started his most ambitious project: building an opera house in the heart of the African savannah, in Burkina Faso. In 2010 he did a time and site specific redesign for the German pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale . His last dream, fulfilled after his death, was to create an opera village in central Africa.
Schlingensief died of lung cancer on August 21, 2010 in Berlin, Germany at age 49. In a note to his death in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Literature Nobel Prize Laureate Elfriede Jelinek wrote: "Schlingensief was one of the greatest artists who ever lived. I always thought one like him can not die. It is as if life itself would be dead. He was not really a stage director (in spite of Bayreuth and Parsifal), he was everything: he was the artist as such. He has coined a new genre that has been removed from each classification. There will be nobody like him."
The jury of the 54th Venice Biennale has awarded the international exhibition's highest honor, the "Golden Lion for best national pavilion", to Germany for its display of work by Christoph Schlingensief. Organized by curator Susanne Gaensheimer, who completed the exhibition after Schlingensief's death, the German pavilion has been transformed into a replica of the church where the artist spent his teenage years as an altar boy in order to present "Fluxus Oratorio," the second of his three-part final work, created after he had undergone surgery to remove a lung. The exhibition presens multimedia documents — from videos to x-rays — relating to his battle with terminal cancer. A side room presents footage and a maquette made as part of Schlingensief's project to build an opera house in Burkina Faso, while another wing shows a selection of films from throughout his career.
- 1990–1993 he directed a series of films known as the Germany-trilogy.
- 1993 he directed his first stage piece "100 Years of CDU " at the Volksbühne Berlin
- 1994 Kuhnen "94, Bring Me the Head of Adolf Hitler! at the Volksbühne Berlin
- 1996 Director of the movie United Trash
- 1996 Rocky Dutschke at the Volksbühne Berlin
- 1997 My Felt, My Fat, My Hare, 48 Hours Survival for Germany (Dokumenta X, Kassel)
- 1997 Passion Impossible, Wake Up Call For Germany, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg and Station Mission for the Homeless
- 1998 Chance 2000, an Election Circus, Prater Garden, Berlin and other locations nationwide
- 1999 Freakstars 3000 at the Volksbühne Berlin
- 2000 Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container (Opera Square, Vienna in association with the Burgtheater)
- 2001 Hamlet, This is Your Family—Nazi Line in Zürich, Switzerland, and at the Volksbühne in Berlin in collaboration with Ubermorgen
- 2002 Atta Atta—Art Has Broken Out! at Volksbühne in Berlin
- 2003 founded the "Church of Fear" at the Venice Biennale
- 2003 directed Bambiland by Elfriede Jelinek at the Burgtheater in Vienna
- 2004 directed Richard Wagners Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus
- 2004 created Kunst und Gemuese at Volksbühne in Berlin
- 2005 premiered The Animatograph in Reykjavík, Iceland which continues in various manifestations up to the present
- 2006 directed Area 7, a St Matthews Expedition at the Burgtheater in Vienna
- 2006 premiered Kaprow City a performative installation at the Volksbühne in Berlin
- 2007 directed The Flying Dutchman at the Amazon Theatre, Manaus
- 2007 created a new talk show series for Arte television, The Pilots
- 2008 Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in mir (Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord)
- 2009 Mea Culpa – eine ReadyMadeOper (Burgtheater, Wien)
- 2009 Sterben lernen
- 2010 Remdoogo – Via Intolleranza II (Bayerische Staatsoper, München)
- ^ "Christoph Schlingensief ist tot [Christoph Schlingensief is dead]" (in German). sueddeutsche.de. 21 August 2010. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/nach-jahrelanger-krankheit-christoph-schlingensief-ist-tot-1.991014. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- ^ Kaspar Mühlemann: Christoph Schlingensief und seine Auseinandersetzung mit Joseph Beuys. Mit einem Nachwort von Anna-Catharina Gebbers und einem Interview mit Carl Hegemann (Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe 28: Kunstgeschichte, Bd. 439), Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main u.a. 2011, ISBN 978-3-631-61800-4
- ^ "German filmmaker, theater director and artist Christoph Schlingensief died before finishing his upcoming exhibition at the Venice Biennale, but preparations went on without him". http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,766151,00.html. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
- ^ http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2011/09/opera-in-an-african-village-late-directors-last-dream-is-about-to-come-true-video.html
- ^ Apthorp, Shirley (22 August 2010). "Schlingensief, Who Put Putrid Bunny on Bayreuth Stage, Is Dead". Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-22/schlingensief-director-who-put-rotten-bunny-on-bayreuth-stage-dies-at-49.html. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- ^ Lukas Kubina: Christoph Schlingensief passed away dld-conference.com 2010
- ^ ARTINFO's Rundown of the Winners of the Golden and Silver Lions at the 54th Venice Biennale ARTINFO.COM
- ^ ARTINFO's Rundown of the Winners of the Golden and Silver Lions at the 54th Venice Biennale ARTINFO.COM
- ^ Deutscher Pavillon 2011: Christoph Schlingensief / 4 June - 27 November 2011 La Biennale di Venezia, Venice 2010
- ^ Festspielhaus Afrika