Animatograph-Iceland-Edition. (House of Parliament/House of Obsession) Destroy Thingvellir, 2005

Installation view: Figura cuncta videntis (the all-seeing eye) | Homage to Christoph Schlingensief, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria, 2010
Photo: Michael Strasser | © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2021

Installation with revolving stage, painted wooden walls, scale models, props, printouts, 13 videos (six projections, seven monitors, b/w and colour, sound), sound
Videos with varying durations (from 20 sec to 19 min 42 sec)
Overall dimensions variable
Commissioned and produced by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection

The German artist, filmmaker, and theater director Christoph Schlingensief developed a mobile revolving stage installation entitled "Animatograph" for the 2005 Reykjavik Arts Festival. This contribution to the Icelandic festival, which was commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, has been presented for the first time with a performance by Christoph Schlingensief at the Klink og Bank Gallery in Reykjavik on the 14th of May 2005.

"And the earth rifted apart and revealed a gash ... Here at this place, where the New and Old Worlds drift apart at a rate of 8 mm a year, the prototype of the Animatograph comes into being. A soul writer. A walk-on photo plate. An organic body situated between mankind's oldest wish for government (Thingvellir) and the house of ungovernable obsessions (Holmur). Here, on this earth crust fringe, spirits ride our bodies; here the biggest film I'll ever make begins. From this fringe, we will travel the earth, crossing cultural and civilizational rape crime scenes to reach the African underworld in October, to search for the hammer, to make holes in the walls to our neighbors next door, and, after announcing to the world the ostrich egg, to fly to Nepal, and from there to the plastic coffins inside the American twin tomb... A dream I fulfill for myself. For anyone who casts a look at the Animatograph exposes it. And anyone who steps onto it is exposed." – Christoph Schlingensief

Thingvellir, 50 km east of the Iclandic capital Reykjavik, is the place where the oldest existing national parliament convened in 930 AD, situated on the edge of a deep earth crack where the North-American and Eurasian continental plates drift apart several millimeters every year. Here, order and obsession coincide from which the idea of government and the forces of nature emanate. At this magic place, Schlingensief developed his project, the "Animatograph - Iceland Edition. Destroy Thingvellir". His provocative view of the paranoid, claustrophobic, and obsessive inclinations of human nature shows the human torn between good and evil. Man's confrontation with higher powers such as spirits, gods, and mythical heroes is an expression of this struggle in which rituals of purification and symbolical metamorphosis play an important role, too. Schlingensief draws on, and combines, Nordic-European, African and Asian spiritual traditions and interweaves filmic visions of the Wagnerian interpretation of the legend of the Holy Grail with shamanistic traditions and Nordic sagas such as the "Edda".

"The Animatograph", a projection apparatus from early film history, combines elements of the visual and performing arts into a new format. The revolving stage construction, an "actionist photo plate", is used both as a recorder and as a film and sound projector. Live interventions are supplemented with overlapping film projections and sound environments.
"And the graves opened, and many bodies of the deceased rose and went from their graves into town, and appeared to many. They laid hold on people and wrapped them in canvas so as to make an image of them."

"The Animatograph" is based on a series of films, shot on different locations in Iceland in collaboration with local artists, musicians, and (amateur) actors. The performance character of the installation undercuts the usual one-directional communication between actors and audience and involves viewers as participants, renouncing the sole authority of the author with regard to the reading of the work: Schlingensief unfolded the narrative through the use of filmic and media paradigms and saw his project as a living organism, which reloads at every stop along its way.

*1960 in Oberhausen, Germany | † 2010 in Berlin, Germany

Christoph Schlingensief was a German theatre director, performance artist and filmmaker. Starting as an independent underground filmmaker, Schlingensief later staged productions for theatres and festivals, often accompanied by public controversies. Already as a young man Schlingensief had 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. He 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.

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