A New Race
25 and 26 September 2020
If artists intentionally paint what does not exist, they belong to prison. If they paint what they see, they belong to hospital.
1. Facts. – On 19 June 1937, the Nazis organized a notorious exhibition entitled Entartete Kunst – Degenerate Art. The works of artists that had been looted, seized, and withdrawn from museums and galleries were put on display. The initiator, the »curator« of the exhibition was Joseph Goebbels. At the Hofgartensarkaden in Munich, the Nazis put on display 650 works of art to be shamed and disgraced. According to Nazi art standards, they reeked of degeneration and avant-garde: Surrealism, Dadaism, Cubism, Fauvism … and represented examples of degenerate art and embodied all that was to be banned, banished and suppressed. Many artists were exposed to violence and ended up in prison or emigrated. Until 1941, the exhibition travelled to various German cities and became, paradoxically, one of the most visited exhibitions in history. It was attended by about three million people. During this time, the world slipped into World War II.
2. Fiction. Satirical drama. – Two young painters, Adolf Hitler and Viktor Karlstein, wish to enrol at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, but fail. Much later, in 1944, both are in Berlin. In the meantime, Hitler became the Führer, and Karlstein became his personal scientist who now constructs two new monstrous beings, a man and a woman, for the needs of the Wehrmacht; two bodies with multiplied power according to his algorithms of the Übermensch to crossbreed and start a new race. The Überrasse. Markus and Heidi will become victorious weapons since the Nazis are losing war on all fronts. At the same time, they are Victor’s works of art, and his answer to degenerate, abstract art. But for the experiment to succeed, the parts of the bodies that make up the new creatures must be of Aryan origin. Above all, it is necessary to extract the most dangerous elements from the usable material: Jews, homosexuals, gypsies … But this poses a major problem that Karlstein must deal with. Namely, in 1944 in Berlin, the pure »Aryan material« is no longer a normal occurrence, and a fatal mistake can easily happen …
3. The world today. The theatre today. – What kind of world do we live in now? What has modern society to do with racism, chauvinism, xenophobia, hatred of foreigners? Does the fear of »degenerate art« exist today as well? The fear of lower races? Are there new fascisms in Europe today and around the world becoming protuberant, and can these phenomena be called by this name? It may be wise to return to their origin when looking for answers to these questions. And since I’m a theatre maker, I play with fiction. With satire. Are things today too serious to seek answers by way of comedy? On the contrary. The history of film and theatre tells us that comedy was actually the most effective means in the dethroning of the Nazis: Lubitsch, Chaplin … What is more, it represents a possible shift from a slightly benign pathos, hidden in the persuasion of the same minds. I think that A New Race is one of my most radical texts. I live in hope this is not because there are heads and limbs being cut off on stage.