For for Sounds like Venice, Cushman and Johannes Wilms |soya-muzik.com and Bootlab.org | prepared a special episode entitled Was Fehlt? : a one voice, multiple character radio play dedicated to Christoph Schlingensief, artist, filmmaker, and theater experimentalist who died at only 49 years of age in August of 2010, and represents the German Pavilion at 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, Golden Lion for Best National Participation 2011.
Biographical data and short descriptions of Schlingensief’s works are combined with fake artistic suggestions, with comments, historical data, poems, field recordings and sounds of various kinds. The air of this intense radio play ranges in- between high culture, united trash, fun and serious contemporary sound art and literature.
From the early 1980s onwards, Christoph Schlingensief explored a variety of different media in his work. He made films, was involved in political action, theater, art projects, and opera. Even though he originally decidedly left behind the legacy of what was known as Neue Deutsche Film (new German film), on many levels we can compare his work to that of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In particularly, this is true as regards team work, an approach that, though common in the world of film and theater, still tends to be the exception in the visual arts, and yet influenced his work for decades. Schlingensief used language as the fundamental starting point for his work, across the board.
About the German Pavilion.
In the main hall of the German Pavilion, the stage of the Fluxus oratorio A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within has been installed, which Schlingensief conceived for the 2008 Ruhrtriennale, where he portrays his illness openly and unsparingly, using his own painful experience to examine the existential circle of life, suffering, and death. The play‘s stage with its many film and video projections, and a multitude of spatial and pictorial elements, has the character of an encompassing spatial installation.
In the right wing of the pavilion‘s two side wings, a cinema presents a program of six selected films from different moments in Schlingensief‘s career are played on a large screen: Menu Total (1985–86), Egomania (1986), the Germany trilogy of 100 Jahre Adolph Hitler (1988), Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker [The German Chainsaw Massacre, 1990], and Terror 2000 (1991–92), as well as his penultimate film, United Trash (1995–96). Presented on a structured schedule, these films exemplify central features of Schlingensief‘s filmic oeuvre. The theater is accessible at all times during the Biennale‘s opening hours and accomplishes two tasks at once, offering an international audience the opportunity to see a significant selection from Schlingensief‘s films—some of which have been subtitled for the first time—while introducing the artist‘s filmic visual language into the canon of visual culture.
The pavilion‘s left wing is dedicated to Schlingensief‘s Operndorf Afrika, his opera village in Africa. Located near Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, it includes a school which houses film and music classrooms, a café, a hospital, and a central theater building with a festival hall. The opera village is under the leadership of Aino Laberenz and planned with architect Francis Kéré. Alongside photographs and documentation of the already realized parts of the African project — and in conjunction with selected scenes from Via Intolleranza II, Schlingensief‘s last play in which he collaborated with actors from Burkina Faso — this portion of the pavilion will feature a large-scale panoramic projection of footage of the natural scenery surrounding the construction site of the opera village, filmed by an African filmmaker Schlingensief himself had commissioned for use in the German Pavilion. As there are no translations, subtitles or English versions of his work, the German Pavilion will not only to present Schlingensief’s work, but will also make it accessible to an international audience.