stahlweg I-XII, 2006

Installation view: AREA 7. Eine Matthäusexpedition mit Christoph Schlingensief, Burgtheater Wien, Vienna, Austria, 2006
Photo: Georg Soulek


Installation with 16 painted steel lockers, 12 of them with peeping holes, and videos on monitors (color, sound, and silent)
Videos with varying durations (from 45 sec to 7 min)
Overall dimensions variable

Christoph Schlingensief (1960-2010) was one of Germany's foremost theater directors, experimental filmmakers and idiosyncratic and rebellious artists. Posthumously awarded with the Golden Lion for the German pavilion in Venice in 2011, his oeuvre is slowly dissipating beyond national and disciplinary categorizations. A relentless sampler and remixer of stories, myths, narratives, and ideological frameworks, Schlingensief's works are difficult to translate, isolate and fail to offer interpretations.

stahlweg I-XII consists of 16 metal cabinets, each a container and viewing machine for filmic snippets produced over a period of five years in different locations, for various projects and with most diverse content. Originally, the work was an integral part of a larger theatrical endeavor, "Area 7", an installation/performance produced for Vienna's Burgtheater 2006. Area 7 is a slum settlement in the African township of Lüderitz in Namibia, a former German colony. Here, Schlingensief set out in 2005 to make his first film in eight years ("The African Twin Towers"), and a life enactment of a project named the "Animatograph" (the Soul-writer). "The African Twin Towers" is a reenactment, but more so a reinterpretation of a (failed) remake of the fall of the (New York) Twin Towers. Amongst myriads of references, the project also reincarnated the story of the Islandic Edda and a Parsifalian pastiche, both previously explored in the "Animatograph-Iceland-Edition" (2005). Amongst the actors populating Schlingensief's oneiric panning shots, many of them part of his obsessive-creative family, the US singer and songwriter Patti Smith keeps reappearing as a commentator, observer, and muse. Other figures and narrative references are a penguin, a snake, the ark, class war, the end of the world, world announcement, pax pax pax"

Whilst stahlweg I-XII forces us to adopt the voyeuristic act of gazing through narrow peep-holes to view the 12 film sequences (from Area 7, Patti Smith, Animatograph) in a locked closet, thus referencing the forbidden nature of the footage, it is laid out as a symbolic path or pilgrimage, a Via Crucis. Memorializing the Passion of Christ, the Stations of the Cross serve Schlingensief to reinscribe his work within a religious iconography and to re-embed it in his grand civilizatory epic. –  Daniela Zyman

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