In "Epic Theater", an essay in Art Forum (translated by Oliver E. Dryfuss), Berlin-based writer Diedrich Diederichsen considers the diverse body of film and theatrical works by Christoph Schlingensief, who died of lung cancer at age 49 last fall.
At the Venice Biennale, this summer, there will be a retrospective of Schlingensief's art.
Even in his final years, with his (partially realized) dream of building an opera village in Burkina Faso—an enterprise that was at first announced as a vague form of European reparations to Africa but turned out to be some kind of social project or adventure—he was toying with the idea of healing the world through art, though his notion of this was closer to Albert Ayler’s than to Wagner’s. At the same time, he could not stick to any one solution to the problem of how to produce art that would speak to an environment of commodified mass culture. The disavowal of his own projects was not only a constant in his practice but also precisely the characteristic that allowed him to become the voice of his generation: inordinately boasting, deploying all the aplomb that might be mustered by a boy whose parents always listened reverently when he spoke—only, in the very next moment, to despair over this primal scene of individual subjectivity. This might well be the biographical core that he acted out with more virtuosity, energy, insistence, and sheer effrontery than any of his artistic contemporaries.
Learn more about Schlingensief here.