ponedjeljak, 12. ožujka 2012.

Christoph Schlingensief - Filmsko-kazališno-politički antivagnerijanski Wagner


Aktivistička opera. Politička satira. Afrički Fitzcarraldo. Gesamtkunstwerk kao metoda. Glamurozni društveni humor. Groteskne i ekscentrične provokacije. Umjetnik kao produkcijski agent. Najveći umjetnik svih vremena, kaže Elfriede Jelinek.


"Christoph Schlingensief, who has died aged 49 of lung cancer, was a mercurial figure in arts and politics in Germany, as a film-maker, theatre and opera director, installation artist and deviser of happenings and events.
He first came to public attention with Deutschlandtrilogie (The Germany Trilogy), three films dealing with turning points in 20th-century German history. 100 Jahre Adolf Hitler (Adolf Hitler – A Hundred Years, 1988) presents Hitler's last hours in 1945 in the Berlin bunker. Das Deutsche Kettensägenmassaker (The German Chainsaw-Massacre, 1990) shows a group of East Germans who cross the border to visit West Germany after reunification in 1989 and are slaughtered by a family of western psychopaths. Terror 2000 (1992) deals with West German anti-terrorist hysteria in the 1970s when the Red Army Faction was active. Here was a new voice offering a fresh, radical take on Germany's recent past.
Schlingensief with his Church of Fear project. Photograph: Federico Gambarini/EPA Born in Oberhausen, in the industrial Ruhr, Schlingensief was the son of a pharmacist and a children's nurse. He was formed by his experiences in a Catholic youth movement and as an altar boy. After he left school he studied German literature, philosophy and art history at Munich University, while also starting his career in film as an assistant to Werner Nekes. After working as a teacher in Offenbach and at the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf, he became a production manager on the TV series Lindenstrasse. He experimented at first with short films; his full-length debut, Tunguska, in 1984, was his challenge to New German film of the 70s, which he considered outmoded.
In the 1990s, he directed a series of chaotic, satirical productions at the Berlin Volksbühne theatre. The pieces had titles such as 100 Jahre CDU (100 years of the CDU, 1993) and Rocky Dutschke 68 (1996), the latter his version of the story of Rudi Dutschke, the martyr of the protest generation. In 2000, for the Vienna festival, he staged Bitte Liebt Österreich (Please Love Austria), a Big Brother parody, in a container featuring asylum seekers supposedly competing for a residency visa; many thought it was real. In Zurich in 2001, Schlingensief interpolated six German neo-Nazis into Hamlet to highlight rightwing tendencies in Switzerland.
When he accepted the Wagner family's invitation to direct at the Bayreuth festival in 2004, it caused surprise because of his iconoclasm and his well-known aversion to all things tainted by association with Hitler. The injection of social and political concerns into his production of Wagner's Parsifal was typical of Schlingensief. Film clips and costumes focused the action on the conflict between Christianity and Islam. The superb decor was rich in religious symbolism. In Schlingensief's revolving set, with its nomads' dwellings and multifunctional projection screens, one commentator discerned a space-time-continuum in which death, resurrection and rebirth together formed a miracle. Kundry, who accompanies the eponymous hero on his quest for the Holy Grail was, in Schlingensief's production, a black-clad, Islamic fundamentalist fighter. The Grail went global, with allusions to the contrast between the opulence of Catholic ritual in South America and the sordid social conditions in the favelas. The production was a wonderful subversion of Bayreuth traditions.
Schlingensief's commitment to developing nations recently took him to Burkina Faso, where he was awarded a concession to build an opera house. Construction began in January this year, near the capital, Ouagadougou. This was a manifestation of his concern for the economically underprivileged, but was also typical of his quixotic enthusiasms. Only when he saw a rehearsal did he realise that his normal technique of shouting suggestions to the cast, which assistants would take down for eventual integration into the script, would not work, because he did not know the language. But he was not daunted; the project went on.
Schlingensief ventured often into the political arena. In 1997, he staged an art action at the Documenta X exhibition in Kassel, and was arrested for carrying a placard with the words "Kill Helmut Kohl!". In 1998, he founded his own political party, Opportunity 2000, whose members could become candidates and vote for themselves in the national elections. He also invited people to take part in an anti-chancellor swim in Lake Wolfgang, Austria, where Kohl, then the German chancellor, was holidaying. Schlingensief's plan was that four million bathers, the number of Germany's unemployed at the time, should enter the lake simultaneously, make the water overflow and flood Kohl's holiday home. The authorities banned the demonstration.
In 1997, he briefly hosted a TV talk-show, Talk 2000, in which he interviewed celebrities including Hildegard Knef, the actor, and Beate Uhse, the founder of a chain of sex shops.
Schlingensief was diagnosed with lung cancer at the beginning of 2008 and later that year staged a theatrical response. He transformed a derelict blast-furnace in Duisburg into a church nave and seated his audience on pews to celebrate Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in Mir (A Church of Fear in the Face of the Stranger Inside Me), in which he examined his attitude to God and the church and poured out the pain of his suffering from cancer. It was a personal, confessional liturgy with a large cast and when it was replicated at the Berlin Theatertreffen in 2009, I found it difficult to know how to respond to this effusive self-dramatisation. In the event, his cancer went into remission.
So Schön wie Hier Kanns im Himmel gar Nicht Sein! (Heaven Cannot Be As Beautiful As Here), a diary of his illness, in which he described his hope, desperation and bitter wrangling with God, was published in the summer of 2009. He could hear, he claimed, what people were saying about him: Schlingensief the wild man, the provocateur, the enfant terrible, now with this mad, manic desire to survive, fighting with a superhuman effort until his last breath.
Schlingensief was a talented, energetic maverick, often working on several projects at the same time: films, theatre, opera, blogs, interviews, prose, art actions, videos. By the end of his life he was considered one of the most influential figures in the German theatre and something of a national treasure. He had been commissioned to decorate the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011.
He is survived by his wife and long-time assistant Aino Laberenz, whom he married in 2009." - Hugh Rorrison 


The Art of Christoph Schlingensief at MoMA PS1

In 1998 the German artist Christoph Schlingensief organized the Last Chance Party, a deliberately absurdist mix of art and politics that encouraged ordinary people to nominate themselves as candidates for the coming parliamentary elections.
One of the party’s campaign events took place at Lake Wolfgang in Austria, where Helmut Kohl, the chancellor at the time, had a summer home. Mr. Schlingensief called on Germany’s six million unemployed people to swim in the lake all at once, the idea being that they would raise the water level enough to flood the chancellor’s home. As it turned out, only a few hundred people turned up — journalists and police officers, mostly — but you couldn’t say the event was a failure, for by means of it, Mr. Schlingensief put into circulation a vivid metaphor about the potential power of democracy.
Many other similarly amusing and inspirational stories are told at MoMA PS1 in “Christoph Schlingensief,” a persuasively hagiographic survey of the amazingly adventurous career of one of Germany’s most celebrated artists of recent times.
Organized by Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1; Anna-Catharina Gebbers, an independent curator; and Susanne Pfeffer, artistic director at the Fridericianum, in Kassel, Germany, the exhibition consists mostly of documentary photographs, video clips and explanatory wall texts arranged in chronological order. Mr. Schlingensief (1960-2010) may or may not have been a great artist — it’s hard to say. But, if you judge by this show, he was certainly a galvanizing personality.
(c) Matthew Septimus/2014 MoMA PS1
He was a charismatic performance artist and natural-born comedian, not to mention boyishly handsome: The Hollywood biopic would have to star Jim Carrey, whom he physically resembled. But more important, he was the catalytic director of potentially explosive situations in conventional theaters and in nontraditional settings. His genius was to zero in on, and run roughshod over, the fault lines of politely conformist society with hilariously outrageous élan. Imagine a merger of Joseph Beuys and Andy Kaufman.
Mr. Schlingensief started out as an auteur of farcical, politically incendiary, low-budget cinema. Four of his best-known early films are simultaneously projected in one gallery at PS1. Three belong to “The Germany Trilogy,” a series that includes the hysterical, self-explanatorily titled “100 years of Adolf Hitler — The Last Hours in the Führer’s Bunker” (1989); “The German Chainsaw Massacre” (1990, released here as “Blackest Heart”), in which a butcher’s family turns people into sausages hours after the reunification of East and West Germany; and “Terror 2000 — Intensive Care Unit Germany” (1992), which is about neo-Nazis and opportunistic journalists and politicians.
The fourth, one of his last feature-length films, is “120 Days of Bottrop” (1997), about an inept director’s effort to remake Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” (1975). To watch any of these wildly antic movies for a few minutes is to regret his retirement from filmmaking.
In the late ’90s, Mr. Schlingensief plunged into his anarchic, Brechtian-Beuysian brand of theater, causing near riots on occasion. A high point was “Please Love Austria,” a reality television show parody that was his official contribution to the 2000 Vienna International Film Festival. Mr. Schlingensief and his team constructed a village of shipping containers and had it occupied by 12 people from other countries who were supposedly seeking asylum in Austria.
Webcams broadcast their activities to spectators, who were encouraged to vote out those they disliked. This provoked a storm of indignation. At one point, protesters, who may have been plants, stormed the village in an effort to liberate the asylum seekers.
By that time, Mr. Schlingensief was already a figure of considerable celebrity and notoriety, thanks to several popular television projects. Broadcast in 1997, “Talk 2000” was a talk show with celebrity guests in which Mr. Schlingensief interrupted interviews to discuss his own personal problems or suggest that they all take a brief nap together.
Three years later came “U3000,” in which he and his crew were filmed acting crazily on platforms and in cars of the Berlin subway system; it aired on MTV. And then there was “Freakstars 3000,” a six-part parody, “American Idol”-style, in which two dozen people from an assisted-living home for the mentally disabled competed for spots in a new band. Excerpts from all of these shows are presented on monitors in one room of the exhibition.
Mr. Schlingensief produced the exhibition’s one major sculptural work, “The Animatograph,” in 2005-6. Presented in a dark room, it’s a revolving carousel that viewers may enter and explore. Its Halloweenish two-story labyrinth of cramped, grungy spaces, illuminated from within and without by spotlights, has a portentous gloom that calls to mind the dour Expressionist painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer. A video in which Mr. Schlingenseif explains a diagram of the sculpture is more amusing; it’s like Beuys channeled by Prof. Irwin Corey.
Maybe the most surprising turn in Mr. Schlingensief’s career came in 2004, when he produced Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal” for the Bayreuth Festival — or maybe not so surprising, considering the interest he shared with Wagner in the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or the total work of art. His setting of the opera in Namibia and translation of its medieval symbolism into African tribal imagery, combined with his chaotic mix of live performance and film projections, reportedly elicited an equal mix of boos and cheers from the opening-night audience.
What may ultimately be his most lasting contribution to humanity is a nonprofit project called Opera Village Africa, in Burkina Faso, in western Africa (between Ghana to the south and Mali to the north), which he initiated in 2008, around the time he learned that he had lung cancer, which would kill him in 2010. (He was a nonsmoker.)
Still under construction and under the direction of Mr. Schlingensief’s widow, Aino Laberenz, the Opera Village will center on an opera house, with surrounding buildings for art, education and health programs, all designed by Diébédo Francis Kéré, a Burkina Faso-born architect. For his final act, the troublemaking holy fool turned into a pragmatic humanitarian.
Source: New York Times, May 1, 2014
Photo: Matthew Septimus/2014 MoMA PS1


About a decade after completing his last feature-length film Die 120 Tage von Bottrop (1997) aka The 120 Days of Bottrop – an ambitious work the director regarded as ‘The Last New German Film’ – German absurdist auteur Christoph Maria Schlingensief flew to Lüderitz, Namibia, the German South-West African colony with an entire cast, including actors Irm Hermann, Patti Smith, Robert Stadlober, Björn Thors, Klaus Beyer, Stefan Kolosko, etc. and a full film crew to direct his last cinematic work, The African Twintowers. Of course, at the time of filming, Schlingensief had no idea that it would be his last attempt at directing a film as fate beckoned and he became ill with lung cancer in 2008, tragically dying – not many years after his father – at the premature age of 49 on August 21, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Unfortunately, Schlingensief – who spent the last decade or so running a political party (Chance 2000), hosting and directing TV shows (Freakstars 3000, Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container), working as a theatre (Hamlet: This is your Family, Nazi-line, Elfriede Jelinek's Bambiland) and opera (Richard Wagner’s Parsifal) stage director, and pretty much everything else related to audio-visual media aside from film – ultimately failed in his attempt to bring The African Twintowers to completion as scripted, but the filmmaker eventually released a documentary for German TV of the same name featuring footage from the aborted film and the many but sometimes merry misadventures it entailed. As explained early on in The African Twintowers (2008), Schlingensief’s bag (containing his annotated script for his Wagnerian 9/11 epic) was stolen by two local Herero homeboys, so on the second day of filming he decided to scrap the script as the ill-fated filmmaker falsely believed the random act of thievery was a positive premonition of sorts. Originally about Richard Wagner, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hagen of Norse Mythology and Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, and the Namibia Herero people, among many other seemingly unrelated things, Schlingensief refused to follow what he had left of the script as he felt such organized filmmaking made him feel “like a civil servant.” Essentially, The African Twintowers follows oftentimes flustered and even sometimes furious Schlingensief as he spends 27 days in exotic Afrika as he hopelessly tries to make sense of a film that was never meant to be, but would ultimately sow a different film of sorts which I am reviewing now. Featuring narration by the director recorded 3 years after the artistic nightmare in Namibia and not long after contracting life-threatening lung cancer, The African Twintowers is undoubtedly Schlingensief’s most dispiriting work as a document of a prematurely deceased polymath’s faux pas, frustration, and eventual failure with the medium he loved most.  Needless to say, when so-called "Godmother of Punk" Patti Smith has come to comfort your tears on an African beach, it cannot be the most blessed of days.

 Mockingly and pseudo-pretentiously dressed as ethno-masochistic German filmmakers Michael Verhoeven (Nasty Girl, Mutters Courage) and Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Until the End of the World) with an exceedingly effete scarf and gay cowboy hat, Christoph Schlingensief enters Namibia passionately, if absurdly thinking, “Can you imagine? The Golden Palm at Cannes?” in regard to his latest attempt at an eccentric epic set in the dauntingly dark continent, The African Twintowers. Over a decade before, Schlingensief directed the cinematically charming United Trash (1996) aka The Slit – a United Nations gross-out spoof set in Africa that is probably the only film to feature the curious aesthetic cross between the works of John Waters and Herschell Gordon Lewis with that of Leni Riefenstahl – but his naughty negrophiliac dreams of Namibia for The African Twintowers would not be in his favor and the film would be plagued by an overwhelming number of personal and artistic problems, including the death of the director’s father via heart attack and steady dissolution of all of his artistic intentions and resources. Originally envisioned as a feature about the American catastrophe of the September 11 terrorist attacks happening in an abject African slum where dead New Yorkers would be satirically set side by side with the sort of starved, disease-ridden bodies that appear in Africa quite regularly, The African Twintowers was set to be a sardonic attack on both Western technocratic globalization and the hyperbolic glorification of 9/11 victims in American mainstream media, but instead Schlingensief was inevitably left with 180 hours of footage that was judged by various film editors as being unworkable and inaccessible. Inspired by the Edda of Norse mythology, his former mentor Werner Nekes, and Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (1982), Schlingensief did manage to create a piece for his ambitious long-term project The Animatograph after moving (with the help of happy Herero friends) a wooden ship entitled the ‘arch’ through the desert for several kilometers that was eventually placed on a revolving stage that was bombarded by jubilant locals, which was also supposed to act as the first set-piece for The African Twintowers, but things were not to be in the humid hotbed of "Unity, Liberty, Justice." Naturally, knowing Schlingensief’s resourcefulness and creativity, not all of the footage to The African Twintowers went to total waste as some of it was screened at various art exhibitions throughout Europe and the boat was eventually taken to the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria in 2006, becoming the center-piece in his Actionist-inspired improvised theatre play Area 7 - St. Matthews Expedition (2006); the final culmination of his animatograph project.

Ultimately, the documentary The African Twintowers acts as a torrid testimonial to the fact that Christoph Schlingensief had totally extinguished his vitality as a filmmaker, at least in any tradition sense, as by that point in his life he had already become heavily involved with ‘active art’ projects (political parties, TV shows, avant-garde stage-directing, etc.) without boundaries and with less rules when compared to the intrinsically contrived nature of filmmaking. Although he was never interested in directing films with linear storylines, by the time he started working on The African Twintowers that had a beginning and an end, once writing: "Whether in the theatre or in the cinema: it starts on the left, finishes on the right; there is the beginning, there is the end.  A fundamental mistake." Always feeling constrained by the limits of filmmaking, it was only inevitable that Schlingensief would transcend his roots as a film director like no filmmaker before or after him. Regarding his failed but sometimes fun experience with The African Twintowers, Schlingensief states at the end of the documentary: “It was a great experience which generated amazing images, strange situations…which…brought up a lot of issues, especially regarding 9/11 and the significance of images of icons which are created and remain with entire communities over decades perhaps centuries and which will just seem like alien visions from outerspace one day. Archeologists will then excavate this place with bits of food and a boat and they say, ok, there’s been a river where boats could navigate, so this project can be used to distort history and produce a greater truth than the mind can process. That’s why it defies beauty. Because you can’t find closure.” In a sense, the documentary The African Twintowers also acts as a sort of final testament for Schlingensief’s life, ending the work with the somewhat worrisome and unsurprisingly nihilistic words: “I’ve always enjoyed life a lot, even more so now but what’s really the point of it all? I mean, what…?”  Judging by the footage featured in The African Twintowers for the aborted project of the same name, the unfinished film resembled a cross between Schlingensief's previous African flick United Trash and a work by American 'enfant terrible' Harmony Korine (Gummo, Umshini Wam), but one can only speculate what could have been, but as the director once stated, "I often produce images no actor would put in his casting tape."  Assuredly, one of the best sequences in The African Twintowers is when Schlingensief teases and attacks a group of hyper and hysterical Herero schoolchildren while dressed up in an absurd penguin costume.  As he explains quite seriously in the documentary, Schlingensief had no interest in saying sorry to the people of Namibia for ancient colonial crimes of long-dead imperial Germans, but instead brings euphoria and splendid recollections to the Herero people of today.  After all, what child wouldn't have fond and vivid memories of a wacked-out German guy with a fucked-up haircut bringing a rotating boat to their barren and scarcely populated desert?! - Soiled Sienma

If there is just one taboo obsession that German renegade Renaissance man Christoph Schlingensief (Egomania - Insel ohne Hoffnung, The 120 Days of Bottrop) revisited throughout his artistic career in various mediums, including film, theatre, television performance art, and political parties and rallies, it would undoubtedly be anything revolving around National Socialism – be it old school Hitleritism, degenerate neo-nazism, far-right populism, and/or völkisch kultur and kunst.  Inspired by his discussions with Dietrich Kuhlbrodt – a Hamburg District Court lawyer for the perseuction of crimes under National Socialism who also acted as film/theatre critic and sometimes performer in Schlingensief's films – and his fascination with concentration camps and Pasolini's final work Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), the filmmaker-turned-polymath only became all the more obsessed with all-things-nazi as the decades passed. First tackling the legacy of Adolf Hitler with his feature Menu Total (1986) aka Meat, Your Parents – a phantasmagorical fantasy of the decidedly depraved and structurally delirious that the daring auteur regarded as his finest film – Schlingensief went on to direct a play about homosexual neo-nazi leader (and later AIDS victim) Michael Kühnen  (who the director portrayed in his film Terror 2000) entitled Kühnen "94, Bring Me the Head of Adolf Hitler! (1994) at the prestigious Volksbühne in Berlin, a remake of NS propagandist Veit Harlan's melodramatic masterpiece Opfergang (1944) entitled Mutters Maske (1988), a Nazi-laden “German Trilogy” of films (100 Years Adolf Hitler - The Last Hour in the Führerbunker, The German Chainsaw-Massacre and Terror 2000 - Germany out of Control), and a racially-charged Big Brother reality spoof Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container (2002) where a group of brown-to-black untermensch in a makeshift concentration are departed one-by-one by members of the Austrian voting public.

 Undoubtedly, one of Schlingensief’s most ambitious and audacious artistic flirtations with Teuton-flavored fascism was his play Hamlet: This is Your Family—Nazi Line (2001); a feverish and frantic freeform reworking of the Shakespeare classic starring a cast of real-life Swiss ex-nazis that was inspired by the director’s belief that nazi-free, ‘neutral’ Switzerland was on the verge of adopting postmodern fascism à la the Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP). Simultaneously a play, media frenzy, and active political action campaign, Schlingensief predictably caused an uproar in Switzerland, which was captured via the director’s bloated buddy Peter Kern (who plays King Claudius in the play) via the documentary Hamlet: This is Your Family (2001). Utilizing the ‘Nazi Line’ protocol, which included SS-esque uniforms (one being donned by Schlingensief himself) and holding heated press conferences, the political program sought the objective: “Right wing extremists / neo-Nazis should experience economical and social warmth and support in order to be integrated into our society. additionally NAZI~LINE invests into psychological and medical treatment of neo-Nazis. International Corporations as well as neo-Nazis and hate criminals are kindly asked to participate.” Needless to say Hamlet: This is Your Family is just another example as to why Christoph Schlingensief – not unlike the character Hamlet – was the Fatherland’s last great 'enfant terrible.'

During the beginning of Hamlet: This is Your Family, Schlingensief – wearing a specially tailored Nazi Line SS officer uniform – makes it quite clear that he does not plan to play nice with the Swiss when he states at the beginning of a show, “Who financed your theatre? Jews who fled our…my country. Because they had to. You lined your pockets with Jewish money. You invested it in culture. That’s the truth.” Indeed, the director may have been a tad bit hard on the bombastic Swiss bourgeois, but he found a special place in his heart for brutish bootboys who used to sail the swastika. Dressed in full skinhead regalia, the carbon-copy commandos barbarically beat and sodomize effete actors on stage and sing punk rock skinhead anthems in a manner that would make most viewers doubt the authenticity of their political conversion. The lead ex-nazi Torsten Lemmer – a towering chap who sports a leather trenchcoat and slicked back hair – seems like a rather reasonable guy with surely sound intentions, but that does nothing to stop other members of Schlingensief’s production from treating him and his ex-Hitlerite comrades like they ran a gas chamber at Auschwitz, thereupon bringing doubt as to whether ex-neo-nazis can ever lead a normal life after ‘reintegrating’ into society. In fact, the prop-man for Hamlet: This is Your Family – a culturally-diversified degenerate with large African plates in his ears and aesthetically-repellent full-sleeves of tribal tattooes – adamantly refuses to “furnish props for the Nazis in this play” as if he is at risk for contracting some sort of obscure venereal disease by doing so. To the petty prop-man’s credit, one of the ex-nazi chicks claim that leader Lemmer is still a neo-nazi and that his alleged disavowing of his past is merely a ploy for him to become mayor of Düsseldorf, which probably had some to truth it as it was later revealed that he continued to work for a far-right record label from 2002-2006, despite marrying a Moroccan mud and converting to Islam in 2002. Regardless, in Hamlet: This is Your Family Lemmer and his ex-brownshirts pay tribute to poet/playright Bertolt Brecht – the Marxist race-traitor who committed racial treason by marrying multiple Jewesses – by taking a pilgrimage to his Berlin grave. Ultimately, I get the impression that Lemmer is merely a social misfit with no strong ideals aside from the desire to shock, provoke, and opportunistically attempt to gain political power because when Peter Kern asked him who he would have been during the Third Reich, he unhesitatingly states, “A resistance fighter, no doubt. I always oppose the establishment.” Aside from eccentric ex-nazis, Hamlet: This is Your Family also has the notable distinction of featuring Fassbinder Superstar Irm Hermann (in the play as Queen Gertrude), who has no inhibition about going topless despite being nearly 60-years-old at the time of filming. For the play, Schlingensief, also paid posthumous tribute to his spiritual father Rainer Werner Fassbinder for what would have been his 53rd birthday and to Hermann for her 500th performance. Naturally, Hamlet: This is Your Family – with its Germanization of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and tribute to Brecht and Fassbinder – is an Anglophile's worst nightmare.

Ultimately, in terms of a ‘social change’ experiment, Hamlet: This is Your Family seems to have been, at the very least, a partial failure, but as an active multi-media event and performance art play, Schlingensief was ultimately successful, at least in the context of creating something new, refreshing, and particularly provocative, which was in large part due to the filmmaker-turned-playright’s almost fascistic fanaticism, thereupon becoming the thing he loves to hate in the process, but to a more patently preposterous and innately ironic degree. Hamlet: This is Your Family would also act as a continuation of his work with his previous unclassifiable active art project Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container, albeit this time more focusing on the terribly timid la-di-da bourgeois by belligerently and bluntly bombarding their natural habitat of the theatre, henceforth dropping political and artistic vulgarity into their lap via sardonically subverted reconstruction of Shakespeare where skinheads beat and bugger physically frail types that resemble the audience members themselves. Naturally, Schlingensief responded to certain audience attendees abruptly leaving the play by yelling to them, “you don’t deserve theatre. You don’t deserve culture. No more supper and no more culture. That’s it…go to bed. Sleep til you’re dead. That won’t be long.” And indeed, these passive spectators aka cultural parasites – individuals who are afraid to experience any new art or anything that isn’t already regard as a ‘classic’ because it takes them out of their well cultivated comfort zone – most certainly exhibit a sense of fear when confronted with Schlingensief’s agile art without boundaries. As his friend/collaborator Elfriede Jelinek –an Austrian author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002 – stated of Schlingensief shortly after his death: "Schlingensief was one of the greatest artists who ever lived...He was not really a stage director (in spite of Bayreuth and Parsifal), he was everything: he was the artist as such. He has coined a new genre that has been removed from each classification. There will be nobody like him."  Not unlike Hamlet, Schlingensief – who the theme of family (both literal and figurative) played an integral part of his oeuvre – died after decades of battling his family and defending his father(land) via his art without bounds and ideas without ideology while both enduring cleverly fabricated and detectably debilitating forms of madness. - Soiled Sienma

After viewing Christoph Schlingensief’s brutally bleak yet conspicuously campy black-and-white feature Menu Total (1986) aka Meat, Your Parents at its ill-fated premiere at the 1986 Berlinale Film Festival, charming character actor Udo Kier remarked to the director that, “I killed myself laughing.” Although the actor’s random interaction would later spark many great collaborations with Schlingensief, including kraut arthouse trash works like Egomania - Insel ohne Hoffnung (1986), 100 Years Adolf Hitler - The Last Hour in the Führerbunker (1989), and The 120 Days of Bottrop (1997), Kier was in the minority when it came to apotheosizing Menu Total. Described to him by his mentor Werner Nekes (Uliisses, Johnny Flash) as “fascistic” and by his ashamed father as being “terrible,” Schlingensief was perturbed (yet at the same time, strangely pleased) by the negative response to Menu Total, not least of all because he thought he assembled an elaborately farcical esoteric comedy of sorts, even later proclaiming it be, “my best film!” Ultimately, Menu Total – a Nazi-themed arthouse piece of the most grandiose grotesquery – would prove to be one of Schlingensief’s first public brushes with controversy. Within the first ten minutes of its premiere at the Berlinale, wimp Wim Wenders – a major target for ridicule in many of Schlingensief’s films – walked out of the screening in sheer disgust and by the end of the showing of Menu Total, only half of the 800 member audience remained. Of those remaining 400 filmgoers, about half of them were decisively disgruntled with Menu Total, eventually causing a full-blown fight to breakout that left respected pharmacist Schlingensief’s father in total tears. Indeed, after viewing Menu Total a number of times, I can honestly say that it is one of his most divinely deranged works, which says a lot considering it was directed by a filmmaker who has consistently equipped his films with images of absurdist rape scenarios, rampant race-hate, daffy death sequences, and every sexual perversion known (and not known) to man. Featuring a hysterical hodgepodge of campy concentration camp experimentation, crude and cynical child molestation, sadistic scatological scenarios, existential exploitation, and – more morbidly and mischievously than anything – a decidedly distasteful treatment of Germany’s National Socialist past, Menu Total is the sort of film every good politically-correct German fears and rightfully so, but Schlingensief was not interested in ignoring or sanitizing his Fatherland’s taboo past like so many of his generation, including ethno-mascohistic Holocaust-hugger Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire).

In the documentary Christoph Schlingensief und seine Filme (2005) aka Christoph Schlingensief and His Films the audacious auteur displays no apprehension in stating that he is distantly related to Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels via his mother and feels that he, “would make an excellent overseer in a concentration camp,” further stating that Germans “haven’t digested Hitler since 1945,” thereupon adding to the mystique and appeal of National Socialism for newer generations of Hitler's spiritual children. In short, Schlingensief believes that artists should not, “always claim to be on the side of god,” and that he, “should be able to say “I am Evil”…I want to portray evil,” which Menu Total undeniably does, albeit in an audaciously avant-garde neo-Dadaist-Actionists sort of way, minus the pompous pretensions. Centering around a mentally unstable boy that while searching in vain for his beloved mommy, ends up exterminating an entire family, Menu Total is a recklessly wild cinematic work with a startlingly shattered moral compass. Starring German funnyman, musician, and filmmaker Helge Schneider (00 Schneider – Jagd auf Nihil Baxter, Stangenfieber) – who also assembled the irritatingly ironic cool jazz score for the film – Menu Total is an aesthetically malicious masterpiece of curiously cracked and crudely carnal kraut comedy. Taking place largely in a murky bunker where multiple maniacs meander and mess around with mutilated mortals, Menu Total is largely a mock-up, albeit more multifarious and mystifying, for Schlingensief’s later effort 100 Years Adolf Hitler - The Last Hour in the Führerbunker (1989); a 60-minute farce of the Führerbunker where the cast and crew was locked in a cement dugout for no less 16 hours in complete and utter darkness aside from the devotedly dippy director’s trusty flashlight, henceforth arguably making it the artistically faithful filmmaker’s most literal attempt at ‘Direct Cinema.” Like 100 Years Adolf Hitler, Menu Total is a nauseatingly nonlinear experiment with apocryphal themes relating to the history of the Third Reich. By exaggerating these vaguely historical but mostly fabricated stories, Schlingensief attempted to arrive at allegorical truths about the legacy of Hitler (who in the Führerbunker flick is more of a ‘SHITler’ as he passionately paints and plays with his freshly defecated feces). In the documentary Christoph Schlingensief und seine Filme, Schlingensief – sounding like a vehement völkisch idealist of the Jungian denomination states quite matter-of-factly that, “I believe we carry genetic baggage around within ourselves…events that happened long before we were born.” That being said, as an aberrant Aryan artist and thus an exceedingly endemic and eccentric expressionist of the German collective unconscious, Schlingensief painted a sordid, sardonic, even sadistic portrait of the Teuton volkgeist via Menu Total; undoubtedly one of the purest and unadulterated consciously and unconsciously ‘German’ films of the post-WWII era. 

Undoubtedly, the palpably precarious 1986 premiere of Menu Total was assuredly a vicarious vantage point for Schlingensief because despite feeling hostile animosity from friends, family, and foes, the director also confirmed his artistic dexterity as an inexorable experimental filmmaker with a particularly potent propensity for invoking buried emotions in his countryman, even once admitting, “there must be some deep, dark black box inside of me. A place which is hungry to tackle material like this." Although merely seeming like a schizophrenic scat film of the uniquely incoherent sort to the uninitiated viewer – which taken literally, it most certainly is – Menu Total, like the poetry of Gottfried Benn and Stefan George, aphorisms of Nietzsche and Spengler, paintings of Franz von Stuck, Fidus and Herbert Smagon, and the films of Fassbinder and Buttgereit, is an out-and-out exegesis of the German soul, albeit taken to the sort of extraordinarily erratic excesses that only Schlingensief was capable of. Filmed in rich and thematically complimentary black-and-white film stock, Menu Total works best as symbolic cinematic expression of the soul of a self-flagellating and spiritually devitalized people, portraying a fantastic dystopian Germanic netherworld where the "shadow aspect" – the unconscious aspect of one's personality that the conscious ego is unwilling to recognize – is laid bare as the de facto persuasion of the uncivilized citizenry.  As ironically stated by a particularly debauched man in a Nazi-era Wehrmacht (army) officer uniform – who engages in ritualistic murder, molestation and mayhem – in Menu Total: "You mustn't hurt the children.  Their future is our future and our work is their future."  Keeping that in mind, Schlingensief took the opposite approach with his films, most especially with Menu Total, by intentionally and unrelentingly stirring unpleasant emotions in the viewers.  While it might not be for the better if viewers find themselves fantasizing about  becoming Adolf Hitler and spouting demented gibberish like the particularly perverse protagonist of the film, it might inspire them to renounce politically correct pretensions and artistic mediocrity, thereupon restoring testicular fortitude to the Teutons of Deutschland; a sound sentiment that the late, great Christoph Schlingensief certainly shared.- Soiled Sinema

Probably the most socially and meta-politically active filmmaker who has ever lived, eternal enfant terrible auteur Christoph Maria Schlingensief started his own labor union, political party (Chance 2000, Vote for Yourself), TV show shows (both real and imaginary), art action projects (one of which at the Documenta X exhibition in Kassel, Germany got him arrested for posting a sign that read “Kill Helmut Kohl!”), and even staged his own cancer experience (with the ‘ready made’ opera Mea culpa), but undoubtedly one of his most interesting public stunts was setting up a satirical Big Brother-like art project/television show titled Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container aka Ausländer raus! Schlingensiefs Container in 2000 where he put twelve nonwhite asylum seekers in a mini makeshift concentration camp and members of the audience could vote who they wanted to be deported during his "Please Love Austria—First European Coalition Week" quasi-carny campaign. Showcased during the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) in an area next to a bourgeois Viennese opera that is frequented by art connoisseurs and tourists, Schlingensief set up the terribly trash show as a form of active protest and counter-agit-prop against the election of extreme-right politician Jörg Haider, then-leader of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), into the National Council of Austria. As a leader who made no lie of his disdain for foreigners and leaders of Austria’s Jewish community, as well as man who was vocally nostalgic for National Socialism and a friend/financial benefactor of certain bigwig Arab dictators, Jörg Haider was not your typical cosmopolitan globalist, prostitute-like politician; he inspired sanctions brought against his charming country by fourteen member nations of the European Union, and Western countries also temporarily relieved their ambassadors in protest, even inciting then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright – an American Jewess with a kosher bone to pick – to publically announce, “We are deeply concerned about the Freedom Party’s entry into the Austrian government…a party that does not clearly distance itself from the atrocities of the Nazi era and the politics of hate.” In the delightfully deranged documentary Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container (2002) directed by Paul Poet (Empire Me: New Worlds are Happening!), one gets to experience the realer-than-reality-TV flagrant furor of political philistines of both the left and right as they are antagonized by the always spirited and sardonic Schlingensief as he bodaciously blows smoke out of his trusty red bullhorn. Featuring post-game interviews with cultural critics, academics, members of the FPÖ, and – most importantly – Schlingensief himself, Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container makes for a socio-politically insightful work of postmodern vaudeville insanity – Big Brother Nazi Style!

As Schlingensief explains in the documentary, he got the idea for modern ‘concentration camp containers’ for Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container around the time he directed his absurdist action flick Terror 2000 - Intensivstation Deutschland (1994); a work that features crowed ausländer untermensch in what seems like the inside of cattle cars. Throughout the documentary Schlingensief antagonizes and ultimately confuses the audiences crowded around the containers, proclaimed that Austria is the, “Land of the Nazis. Land of the fascist. Here is Nazi central.” As he explains in one of the post-show interviews for Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container, he concurs that, “In some aspects this venture was swinish to the highest degree.” Indeed, whatever aberrant auteur filmmaker’s main objective with satirical campaign for "Foreigners Out—Artists against Human Rights,” he certainly managed to bring out the worst in people on both ends of the pseudo-dichotomous political spectrum. While inspiring hypocritical bleeding heart left-wingers to cry, “Foreigners In! Kick out the Krauts,” Schlingensief also managed to inspire joy and nostalgia in elderly old school Austrian National Socialists, even allowing a feeble old man – who can barely hold the bullhorn – to declare that all foreigners must be killed. As an academic explains in Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container, Schlingensief utilized a form of social criticism originated by ‘Austrian H.L. Mencken’ Karl Kraus where one need not comment to articulate a criticism, but instead merely cite what you criticize ‘as-is’ in the right context, thus highlighting the absurdity of their political mantras and causing them to figuratively hang themselves with their own rhetoric in the process. Controversial Austrian author and Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek (Wonderful, Wonderful Times, Lust) also lent her support to Schlingensief's sarcastic social experiment, writing a childish puppet show for the foreigners to perform for adoring audiences. Like virtually any great modern Austrian film, actor/director Paulus Manker (Schmutz aka Dirt, Weininger's Last Night) makes an appearance in Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container as a guest speaker. Ultimately the genius of Schlingensief’s "Please Love Austria” campaign is getting people out of their houses into the streets like the good ol’ days of street fights between National Socialist and Communist groups during the 1920s/1930s.  Unfortunately, one of the most vehement and violent people in Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container is a middle-aged woman whose blatantly aroused nipples are poking out of her shirt as she verbally assaults Schlingensief to a most vindictive degree, as if she is receiving some sort of much needed sexual release. Needless to say, Austria is starving for some modern brownshirts.

In the end, Schlingensief concluded that Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container was at least a partial flop due to what he described as the failure of “well-meaning leftie activists” to actually take action. Schlingensief also criticizes a speech by American theatre director Peter Sellars – a typically exceedingly effeminate left-winger who delivers an idiotically sentimental and impotent speech – for mentioning the ‘need’ for containers in NYC and Los Angeles, but not actually taking the initiative to setup such a gallant public spectacle. A female member of Schlingensief’s crew also complains that passive, opportunistic left-wingers used Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container as a petty propaganda forum, thereupon diluting the objective of the TV show: bringing attention to the ‘neo-nazi’ political policies of Jörg Haider and the Freedom Party of Austria. Since the release of Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container, both Christoph Schlingensief and Jörg Haider have died, thus leaving a vast void in the German/Austrian media and public sphere. Schlingensief's antics in Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container were forever immortalized in popular Austrian crime-thriller Silentium (2004) directed by Wolfgang Murnberger where he plays himself as a wacky and intemperate director of oddball yet politically-charged plays. Whatever your political persuasion, one can learn a lot from Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container and Schlingensief’s 'active-art' antics in general, as there is no doubt that it takes a certain type of integrity to get docile Westerners off their couch and into the street. That being said, maybe it's about time for David Duke to start an Occupy movement. - Soiled Sinema

As far as Kraut comedies are concerned, none can compare to the dementedly iconoclastic semi-surrealist works of Christoph Schlingensief and his work Die 120 Tage von Bottrop – Der letzte neue deutsche Film (1997) aka The 120 Days of Bottrop – The Last New German Film – a ferociously farcical parody of German New Wave cinema (most specifically the works of R.W. Fassbinder) – is arguably the ardent Aryan auteur filmmaker’s most keenly reflexive and gut-busting effort. Featuring campy cameos and puckish performances from some of the biggest names in German New Wave (and Kraut cinema in general) – including Udo Kier, Helmut Berger, Volker Spengler, Leni Riefenstahl, Roland Emmerich, among others – The 120 Days of Bottrop is an overwrought unlove letter to German motion pictures that is more harsh than the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche’s in terms of its bloodthirsty besmirchment of the Fatherland. The 120 Days of Bottrop features a number of the real-life surviving members of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s lecherous, carnivalesque inner-circle in a notably degenerated state (including Volker Spengler as an eccentric flaccid-cock-smoking producer) as they attempt to remake Pier Paolo Pasolini’s final masterpiece Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin – Europe’s largest building site and the setting for Fassbinder’s 15 ½ -hour TV movie Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) – in a mere 5 days under increasingly topsy-turvy conditions. Intended as the final work of Neue Deutsche, the filmmakers in The 120 Days of Bottrop run into trouble as they begin to lose money and actors for their ostensibly ambitious final project. Part-homage but mainly a savagely sardonic satire of German cinema and post-nationalist Teutonic kultur in general, The 120 Days of Bottrop is very possibly the final word on German New Wave cinema from a director who couldn’t have been better suited for the job. Being a child of the German New Wave and casting many Fassbinder regulars (Margit Carstensen, Udo Kier, Irm Hermann, etc) in his own uncompromising and antagonistic absurdist works, Schlingensief offers a candid and carnal perspective with The 120 Days of Bottrop that is more sportively sadistic than stalely sentimental in its portrayal of the once-revolutionary film movement its pays exorbitantly erudite yet erratic anti-tribute to. 

 As an unhinged left-winger who had gained international infamy for the many combative ‘artistic pranks’ (as best exemplified in Paul Poet’s documentary Foreigners Out! Schlingensief's Container) he elaborately assembled over the past couple decades, it came as somewhat of a revelation to me that with The 120 Days of Bottrop, Schlingensief was quite critical of the ethno-masochistic and defeatist nature of most German New Wave films/filmmakers, especially regarding those works created during the last waning decade of the movement when passive nihilism came into vogue. Of course, with 100 Years of Adolph Hitler (1989), Schlingensief took a couple sharp snipes at Wim Wenders for his shallow and pathetically passive liberal idealism, but The 120 Days of Bottrop is an full-fledged offensive attack on the overly clichéd and often grueling weltschmerz that plagues most of late era post-WW2 German New Wave cinema. While also a radical leftist like his cinematic forefathers who had criticized and lampooned Germany’s National Socialist past in most of his works, Schlingensief never stooped to the irredeemable level of using his art as a platform for a one-man pity party of the putrid self-denigrating persuasion, nor did he ever embrace the highly contagious and toxic self-censoring artistic-hindrance of political correctness. After all, it is doubtful that Schlingensief was trying to appease culturally sensitive types when he decided to cast a real-life retarded untermensch as Fassbinder’s delightfully (if aesthetically disgusting) dimwitted doppelganger in The 120 Days of Bottrop. That being said, it would not be a stretch to describe The 120 Days of Bottrop as the sort of postmodern satire that Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame would have directed had they had an encyclopedic understanding of German cinema instead of a proclivity towards fanboy wet dreaming about pop culture trash. Of course, one wouldn’t expect anything less from Schlingensief; an anarchic auteur who had the audacity to direct Mutters Maske (1988); a terribly tragicomedic remake of Jud Süß (1940) director Veit Harlan’s National Socialist arthouse masterpiece Opfergang (1944). Needless to say, I doubt Joseph Goebbels would have found as much solace in Schlingensief's remake as he did with Harlan's celluloid magnum opus.
 For whatever reason (but indubitably to mock the pretentious German-Dutch auteur in some sense), The 120 Days of Bottrop opens with the intertitle, “Wenders would have called this film a melancholy parody. Fassbinder never would have made it.” Indeed, the film is a spoof, but it is more maniacally and malevolently merry than mirthless as Schlingensief certainly does not shed a tear for Fassbinder and his friends. Indeed, despite his cinematic experiments in black comedy with later films like The Third Generation (1979) and Lola (1981), Fassbinder would have never made a film so patently preposterous and seemingly unpretentious as The 120 Days of Bottrop; a work that has more in common with the early arthouse-sleaze films of John Waters like Pink Flamingos (1972) and Desperate Living (1977) than following in the rich cultural footsteps of the German New Wave filmmakers. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to state that not since Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977) has a German film been so gravely and feverishly preoccupied with its nation’s cultural history as The 120 Days of Bottrop, yet it is also a work that – not unlike popular American animated sitcoms like The Simpsons and Family Guy – can be also enjoyed by hopeless philistines who fail to appreciate its profoundly pastiche persuasion. Helmut Berger concludes The 120 Days of Bottrop with the snide statement, “I’ve had enough. If I had to act in one more German movie, it would be suicide.” Knowing that Fassbinder concluded his prestigious acting career looking quite disheveled and oafish in the intrinsically mediocre and pathetically prosaic West German cyberpunk Kamikaze 1989 (1982), one can only wonder whether or not the Bavarian auteur filmmaker's fatal overdose that same year was the result of an unconscious death wish, but judging by Schlingensief’s social commentary in The 120 Days of Bottrop, one does not have to think too hard to come up with an informed hypothesis.  After all, the German New Wave celebrity died with a copy of a script he was working on that paid homage to the life of a Marxist Jewess who sought the violent overthrow of his nation, which is undoubtedly a great metaphor for the life and work of Fassbinder and Neuer Deutscher Film as a collective, as so astutely observed and facetiously expressed by Christoph Schlingensief in The 120 Days of Bottrop. - Soiled Sinema

Das deutsche Kettensägen Massaker

The movie opens with archival footage showing the euphoria sparked by the German reunification. The will to promote peace in a united Europe is reinforced in an official speech. Still, these words of welcome are soon countered by a text saying that since the opening of the border in late 1989, a lot of citizens from DDR can't yet cross the border. Fleeing from Leipzig after a ruthless murder, a young woman joins her lover, Artur. Their reunion is interrupted by an assailant in a yellow raincoat. Seeking help in a motel, Clara discovers a small family business and their kinky and carnivorous relationships. People from East Germany are killing their family to go west in order to take part of the economic boom, and people from Western Germany are killing to make a business out of their flesh. Motivated by profit, the predators hunt the East Germans with chainsaws and batons. Although this transition period seemed to open possibilities, the closing lines state that everything has an end, except hope. - 2012.luff.ch/

Everyone knows how brutal a Texas chainsaw massacre is, but few can fathom the sheer depravity of a German chainsaw massacre. In 1990, German art-house-trash auteur Christoph Maria Schlingensief released the boldly extravagant Brecht-esque satiric reunification splatter flick The German Chainsaw-Massacre (aka Blackest Heart); the second entry in the director’s “German trilogy,” and a film that boldly goes where no film has gone before. Indeed, you will never see another cinematic work (except in another Schlingensief flick) that even begins to rival the anarchic nature of The German Chainsaw-Massacre; a film featuring a dream-sequence scene where Udo Kier sports an absurd Hitler-Chaplin-swastika-mustache, as well as a cast of swarthy untermensch German actors that put the real-life cast of Fritz Hippler’s The Eternal Jew (1940) to shame. Christoph Maria Schlingensief – who better resembled a Talmudic scholar during his remaining days than an Aryan Übermensch – passed away prematurely late last year due to an unsuccessful battle with lung cancer, thus I feel it is my duty to honor his legacy as a maniac maverick auteur by viewing all of his films within the next month (which is something I should have done long ago). Although it has been a while since I saw a film by the enfant terrible auteur, I decided that viewing The German Chainsaw-Massacre would be the best way to start my month long unofficial Schlingensief movie marathon. After watching the film, I must admit that I was anything but let down, as viewing The German Chainsaw-Massacre was the cinematic equivalent of a bleak phantasmagorical National Socialist nightmare. In fact, I would give my body to the Third Reich if I could somehow hear long dead Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels' (who is infamously known for banning films in the Fatherland) thoughts on the film. As one would expect from a work entitled The German Chainsaw-Massacre; the film is a tad more sophisticated and less serious than Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). German immigrants played a large role in the cultural development of Texas (17% of modern Texans claim to be of German descent) - but like most Americans of European descent – they are indubitably less culturally refined than their blood brothers from the old country. In Schlingensief’s The German Chainsaw-Massacre, one notices that cultural degeneration in Germany has taken a slightly different route than in the Texas portrayed in TCM.

The German Chainsaw-Massacre opens with real-life documentary stock footage from the 1990 German reunification ceremony.  Then, the film takes a sinister turn for the worst, warning viewers that east Germans - who look and act like westerners – are secretly living among them.  During the Third Reich, Aryan blood was considered nothing short of holy, but in GCM it is merely a less than meaty lucrative means for maniacally making money.  Additionally, while the Teutons of Nazi Germany wanted to consolidate with their racial brothers from around the world, most of the eastern and western Germans featured in GCM much rather prefer murdering one another.  It goes without saying that GCM and TCM also have their differences.  Whilst the slightly deranged cannibalistic Sawyer family featured in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre prefers only the finest grade human meat, the west German human-butchering clan of The German Chainsaw-Massacre stereotypically prefers Teutonic bratwurst cut from the cheap meat of east German swine. Of course, that is not the only difference between the two families, as while the quasi-inbred Texan Sawyer family prefers to butcher and sell the meat of counter-culture hippie types, the family featured in GCM – who are set in their barbaric ways – are happy to kill friendly progressive east Germans, as they make for tasty would-be cosmopolitan treats. Thus, it is apparent that Herr Schlingensief executed a role-reversal tactic with his distinct brand of chainsaw massacring - portraying the seemingly more advanced west Germans as debauched capitalists who are too set in their greedy ways to reunite with their culturally and economically bankrupt kinsmen.  Even to this day – like most ex-Soviet eastern bloc nations – the eastern region of Germany still hasn't recovered from decades of communism. Of course, in Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the director played on the prejudicial fears many Americans have for "backwards", "inbred" and "violent" confederates. As you find out during the beginning of GCM, east German anti-heroine Clara is far from being a sweet sassy lass as her thirst for blood is almost equal to that of the west German cannibal clan she falls prey to, for she is an undeniably proficient killer with an improvised talent for murdering and castrating enemies. While portraying those east Germans who refuse to leave their post-communist region as backwards automatons who are incapable of deracinating themselves from their former authoritarian brainwashing (as personified in GCM by a group of emotionally robotic ex-Stasi border patrol guards), the progressive west Germans - who are also set in their (materialistic) ways - slaughter their countrymen for blood soaked meat and Deutsche Marks. Frau Clara is indubitably a progressive feminist that yearns for total freedom as her sole interest is to emigrate to the west at any cost, even if she has to murder her androgynous troll-like husband in the process. On top of featuring a totally different socio-political subtext from the more traditional and linear horror history told in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The German Chainsaw-Massacre – a salacious work of unconventional slapstick murder – features gore-galore and endless scenes of exquisite entrails and bodily dismemberment. Like most of Christoph Schlingensief’s work, The German Chainsaw-Massacre is first and foremost a clever (albeit intentionally trashy) neo-surrealist romp satire that should be taken solely in jest. Every serious horror fanatic knows that Hooper’s cannibal clan flick is a canonical masterpiece of the macabre (as advertised in the film) due to its extremely naturalistic and somewhat cinéma vérité inspired aesthetic, thus, I suspect that the most fans of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will fail to appreciate (nor begin to understand) the wickedly designed jubilant chaos that is The German Chainsaw-Massacre.

 Christoph Maria Schlingensief

 I have a feeling that Christoph Schlingensief was less than enthusiastic about splatter films, but he certainly proved his profound understanding of the horror subgenre through the satiric tongue-and-cheek nature of The German Chainsaw-Massacre. Although the film features enough gore to stun the most desensitized of gorehounds, it will be apparent to those individuals that the director lacks respect for such exploitive exploits. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Schlingensief was mocking Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik (1987) – which was released a couple years before The German Chain Saw Massacre – as both films feature mangled human torsos (both being the result of an automobile) that look quite similar. GCM is like a perfect marriage between the Viennese Actionist films and the surrealist works of Luis Buñuel confined to production values that mirror John Waters' early Art-House-Trash flicks (Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, etc.). Also, despite the sexually surreal nature of The German Chainsaw-Massacre – which includes incest and female-on-female missionary style rape – it is quite apparent that Schlingensief is mocking the post-WW2 libertine nature of European cinema. To put it simply, The German Chainsaw-Massacre is one of the ugliest and most revolting films that I have ever seen in my cinema-obsessed life.  What saves GCM from being a loathsome pile of Germanic excrement is how hilarious and audaciously ridiculous the film is.  Thankfully, Christoph Schlingensief was a politically astute individual who knew how to make his atypical symbolic social commentary digestible.  After all, most politically-charged filmmakers are quite obnoxious (Spike Lee, Michael Moore, etc) in their execution of socio-political commentary. It is very doubtful that there exists another film in the world such as GCM; where a cannibal family keeps their dead Wehrmacht soldier grandfather (symbolic of Germany's inability to move forward) as a mobile shrine (another nod to TCM). To call the films of Christoph Schlingensief difficult would be an obscene understatement, but for those that have the gall to visually devour works that blur the imaginary line between pure trash and pure art, his films offer cinematic experiences like no other. Although A Hundred Years of Adolf Hitler (1989) is the first film in the director’s “German Trilogy”, I recommend that Schlingensief-virgins watch The German Chainsaw-Massacre first as it is a much more accessible work. Due to Hollywood and the mainstream (and the not so mainstream) media’s skillful knack for inducing Teuton-phobia in the minds of American citizens, I think that is safe to say that it if the average yank were to watch one of Schlingensief’s films, it would (mistakenly) confirm their suspicions regarding the purported dubious nature of the fallen master race. Luckily, Schlingensief’s films are only known and beloved by a small cinephile elite that cherishes the unfortunately deceased auteur filmmaker’s incomparable works of post-post-modern Germanic anti-kultur. Maybe someday a brave American horror auteur will do for Amero-cinema what Christoph Schlingensief did for German national films, but such an unlikely scenario is merely wishful obsessive-cinephile thinking. Instead, next time I watch The German Chainsaw-Massacre, I plan to accompany it with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as such an eclectically perverse double-feature could only make for an oh-so rare majestically macabre experience.  German prophet philosopher Oswald Spengler once stated something along the lines that out of all the artists (he was most specifically referring to the German expressionist painters) who created art during the interbellum period (between the first and second World War), not one of them was an artistic genius that had the ability to construct aesthetically pleasing works.  That being said, Spengler was lucky that he didn't live to see the subversive works of post-WW2 German filmmakers.  Spengler – whose canny physiognomic tact enabled him to foresee many of the horrors that would occur in the western world nearly a century after his death – couldn't even have foretold the spiritually sick chaos contained within a hyper-cynical film like German Chainsaw-Massacre.  Since we (the living) are all confined to culturally degenerate times – where art is more often unprepossessing than not – one might as well buckle-up and enjoy the deluging ride.  Whether you were born in Germany or not, one (most imperatively those of occidental heritage) should accept that a film like The German Chainsaw-Massacre is mostly importantly a reflexive sign of our wretched times. - Soiled Sinema

As I expected it would be, Terror 2000: Germany out of Control – the final chapter in recently deceased Ger-maniac auteur Christoph Maria Schlingensief's delightfully deranged “German trilogy” – is easily the most depraved and wickedly perverse work in the series. Like the first two films in Schlingensief’s trilogy, Terror 2000 is another example of the director’s sadomasochistic obsession with being a self-loathing German who is haunted by his fatherland’s National Socialist past. Also, like the previous films in the trilogy, Terror 2000 is an absurdist political satire that pretends to be a mindless gross-out flick, thus, the film is indubitably a work that will offend both the one dimensional minds of gorehounds and the anally retentive tastes of arthouse princesses. As far as production values, Terror 2000 beats its predecessors. I have a feeling that Schlingensief slowly learned how to direct films via his German trilogy, as all three features suffer from amateurish direction and incoherent plots yet these “weaknesses” only add to the mighty character and crude charisma of these marvelously maniacal movies. Terror 2000 is a film about race chaos and Neo-Nazi vigilantes in post-reunification Germany. As one would expect from a film directed by Christoph Maria Schlingensief, a Neo-Nazi group terrorizes colored refugees (Ausländer) who have relocated to the fatherland. During the beginning of Terror 2000, a turd of a social worker (who seems more Amerikkkan than German) and a Polish family are kidnapped by the usual racist suspects. From there, Terror 2000 turns into an anarchistic work of scorched-earth sspoof ssinema where every convention and norm of film is wonderfully exterminated. Had German auteur Christoph Maria Schlingensief lived during the Third Reich, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have been lined-up for a firing squad. If it was discovered that Schlingenief was the illegitimate Grandson of degenerate German communist Dada artist George Grosz, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised as both Aryan artists had a special talent for portraying Germans as racial untermensch and a strange affinity for creating the anti-pornographic (sexually unappealing sex scenarios). 

What makes Terror 2000 extra-special is that director Christoph Maria Schlingensief plays the role of Michael Kühnen; the real-life gay German Neo-Nazi and ex-Maoist who died of HIV-related complications in 1991. In fact, the film goes as far as poking fun at the fact that Kühnen contracted gay cancer. I must admit that Schlingensief did a swell job exaggeratedly copying Kühnen’s homo-pantomimes and overall daintiness. Everyone’s favorite gay German character actor, Udo Kier, also plays the role of a Neo-Nazi priest in Terror 2000. If you have ever questioned Kier’s ability to play a macho man, you have yet to see Terror 2000; a film where the humble-homo-actor shoots bullets faster than he guzzles down semen. Of course, Kier also still lets the audience watching the film known that he is still on the brown-team by sharing homoerotic lingo with his brownshirt comrade. In short, Terror 2000 is the kind of film that provides nationalists with enough ammo in regards to the dubious morality and nature of leftist artists. Although Christoph Maria Schlingensief uses sick gross-out humor and sadistic satirical content as a martially mean artistic means to mock Neo-Nazis, it is quite apparent that he is supremely fond of scatology. After all, I can’t think of any other film that features an ugly Aryaness masturbating in public as a group of men fight behind her, revolting closes-ups of real Scheiße covered with flies, and jokes about AIDS, thus, although Terror 2000 is a leftist absurdist satire, it is surely a film that will offend most people from both ends of the political spectrum. To be fair, Schlingensief’s sordid portrayal of colored foreigners is not exactly respectful, as he characterizes them in a manner comparable to a Tom Metzger-esque Neo-Nazi concocted caricature. In fact, a Negro repeatedly states “Fuck-fuck white shit” (translation: I want to rape German women). The foreigners in the film are quite ungrateful quests who have no problem stating that the free food that they receive at their refugee camps is “shitty” while also demanding that Germans give them more welfare. Of course, the refugee camp in Terror 2000 is presented as a neo-Auschwitz of sorts. 

Despite being easily the most lavishly produced film in Christoph Maria Schlingensief’s German trilogy, I found it be the weakest of the three films. Naturally, many of the themes featured in the director’s previous two films – A Hundred Years of Adolf Hitler (1989) and The German Chainsaw-Massacre (1991) – were once again covered in Terror 2000. That being said, I still found Terror 2000 to be a notable and totally worthy exercise in iconoclastic sinema. I also rarely find films to be funny (especially when the director is attempting to be comedic) but I found the intellectual toilet humor in Terror 2000 to be first-class display of satirical sass. It has been a long time since swastikas burned in Germany but in the Teutonic nachmahr Terror 2000; the ancient Aryan symbol burns on (albeit, in a mocking manner that parodies that of American KKK cross-burning). In the film, you will also find such charming dialog as “Long Live Hatred!” and “Adolf Hitler was a Nazi. My mother was a Nazi. My father was a Nazi. I’m a Nazi!” After watching the film, I wondered whether or not Christoph Maria Schlingensief had any full-fledged Nazi grandparents. Seeing as Schlingensief seems to hate Nazis more than Steven Spielberg does, I can only assume that he regretfully had an SS man or Gestapo agent swinging from his family tree. Schlingensief is well known in Germany (and even on an international level) for his tactic of incriminating politicians and their empty lies of "hope" by "playing something through to its end" with his various libelous claims against them. Of course, I sincerely doubt that the films in his Germany trilogy made for a successful outlet for expressing his political views, but I respect the anti-Aryan-Aryan’s unconventional approach. Christoph Maria Schlingensief must have learned all he needed to know about satiric filmmaking by locking himself in his room and religiously watching Stanley Kubrick’s apocalyptic cold war satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) for months on end. Like Dr. Strangelove, Terror 2000 is a quasi-nihilistic satire that is blacker-than-a-firebombed-Dresden-resident-from-1945 comedy that leaves no group/political ideology unscathed. With Terror 2000, Christoph Maria Schlingensief also pays tribute to Jewish filmmaker Mel Brook’s iconic Nazi-parodying in The Producers when an obese investigator in the film (who is a glutton that sports a XXX –Large Nazi SA brownshirt uniform) sings a verse from Springtime for Hitler, thus he is the kind of German filmmaker that the original National Socialists would have labeled a “white Jew” (as they did to German theoretical physicists like Werner Heisenberg). Despite his admiration for God’s chosen tribe, Schlingensief had no problem including a controversial scene (especially for modern Germans) in Terror 2000 where a Hasidic Jew hangs lifelessly from a tree.

One scene I found especially humorous in Terror 2000 is when a passionate Neo-Nazi states, “We can’t stand the Jews because they left Germany in 1933 to go to Hollywood.” Although I share the Neo-Nazi's sentiment in regards to half-Jew Fritz Lang, I see the immigration of Aryan auteur F.W. Murnau to America as German cinema’s greatest loss. Despite Schlingensief’s criticism of so called xenophobia among German Nationalists, the film still expresses the universal fact that race chaos and Neo-Nazi movements are truly symbiotic of multi-cult-uralism. Almost two decades after Terror 2000 was released, German politicians – including social democrat banker/economist Thilo Sarrazin and Angela Merkel; current chancellor of Germany – have publicly admitted the total failure that is multiculturalism in post-war Germany. One of the strangest aspects of Terror 2000 is that Schlingensief chose to use a Polish family as the central target of discrimination in the film. Although the original National Socialists showed a somewhat hostile hatred towards Poles (especially those of a darker and more swarthy phenotype), most modern Neo-Nazis accept the fact that Slavs and Eurasians are imperative fighters for the Occident who have yet to be totally tainted by liberal democracy like western Europeans and Americans. Whatever his exact political persuasion was, Schlingensief certainly foresaw the chaos that would erupt in Germany as a result of racial diversity. As a character states during Terror 2000, “Germany is not America, We’re not an immigration country.”  After all, no one is telling Mexico nor South Africa that they need more white immigrants yet in European nations reverse-colonialism is demanded by conspiring Third World leaders and liberal Europeans alike. - Soiled Sinema

Christoph Schlingensief: against taste, defying complacency

Agata Pyzik Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Agata Pyzik explores the life’s work of a versatile provocateur who straddled art and exploitation.

Terror 2000
Terror 2000

There’s an early short film by a ten-year-old Christoph Schlingensief in which he’s playing a teacher dressed in a little suit in the countryside, lording it over a group of children more or less his age. He tells them to do various absurd things – sit down and stand up repeatedly, walk into the road and hold flags in a mock demonstration – while he offers a surrealist commentary off-screen. Already, it seems, he was aware of the political complexities of the country he lived in, where the memory of Nazism was repressed and West Germans were told to keep consuming and keep quiet.
The late (1960-2010) film and theatre director, visual artist, TV personality and professional scandalist (website) was curiously never shown or recognised in Britain during his lifetime, despite being well known in European art circles. His recent, selective retrospective at Tate Modern and ‘Opera Village’, an exhibition showing in the German Embassy in London, both offered a rare chance to discover a highly idiosyncratic artist whose main concern was to disrupt European complacency about the post-war order.
Bane of the bourgeoise
With some relish, Schlingensief took on hypocrisy, racism, xenophobia, greed, materialism, petty bourgeois mores and especially the aggressive, expansionist past of his country, which would gladly have forgotten it was ever responsible for the Holocaust. He delighted in media innovations such as reality shows and surveillance footage, using them critically to create a Brechtian alienation effect in his audiences. Many in Germany and elsewhere knew him only as the guy with the megaphone from his televised events and talk shows, in which he fiercely criticised the state’s xenophobic politics and amnesia about the past.

Inspired by Godard and the New German Cinema – he regularly worked with Fassbinder’s actors such as Irm Hermann – Schlingensief in the end rejected the doctrine of good taste; he was, for example, a lifelong detractor of Wim Wenders’ polished and instantly recognisable ‘artistic’ films. Instead he decided to make intelligent and politically acute films with his own very personal trash aesthetic.
At the same time he borrowed aspects from the conceptual artist Joseph Beuys and his idea of ‘social sculpture’, which considers art as secondary to the potential change the artwork or artist can foster among the public. Schlingensief was obsessed by the unhealed traumas of German 20th-century history and the attempts to obliterate them. When in the 1980s many on the Right in Germany were trying to relativise Nazi atrocities by comparing them with other war crimes, Schlingensief made a series of horrifying films that cut to the heart of the strange relationship contemporary Germany has to its past.
The horror, the horror
In the particularly flamboyant and baroque Egomania (1986), Schlingensief’s then-lover Tilda Swinton and fetish actor Udo Kier go crazy in grim, post-apocalyptic landscapes. Schlingensief points to Freudian family relationships within the German bourgeoisie as the seed from which the horror is created. In Menu Total (aka Meat, Your Parents (Piece to Piece), 1985/86), shot in dark black and green – a film Wenders famously walked out of after 10 minutes at the Berlinale – a deranged boy, haunted by monstrous fantasies and molested by his father, finally kills his parents in a horrible manner.
100 Years Adolf Hitler
100 Years Adolf Hitler

The first part of his German Trilogy, 100 Years Adolf Hitler (1988), about the last hours inside Hitler’s bunker, was shot in complete darkness during a 16-hour binge with his usual team of actors (including Kier and Fassbinder collaborator Margit Carstensen) sleepwalking until they start to act like monsters – pitiful, lunatic, perverse – spurred on by exhaustion and the horror and dread of who they are and what they have done. We see the real cost of the years of National Socialism from which Germany still hadn’t recovered; repeated references to the Baader-Meinhof gang in the trilogy suggest there are yet more crimes to answer for.
After Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party of Austria was included in the government coalition in 2000, Schlingensief went to Vienna and constructed a container next to the opera house in which he conducted a refugee Big Brother called ‘Foreigners Out!’ (2002), asking Austrians to vote for their least favourite refugee. It caused outrage in Austria, with the crowd staying in the square day and night, and resulted in people trying to dismantle the container and issuing death threats to the director. It remains one of the most interesting examples of the recently popular ‘art of participation’ (practiced by artists such as Jeremy Deller, Pawel Althamer and Artur Zmijewski), possessing a level of distastefulness and political sharpness that forced Austrians to confront their own intolerance.
The outsider
Schlingensief existed on the fringes of the film world in Germany, ignored by the mainstream. He toyed with the aesthetics of Nazi chic, exploitation and slasher films, Z-horror and arthouse. Somehow he became a kind of trash auteur for the intelligentsia – a forerunner, in fact, to the now well-established style of the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin, known for its critical adaptations of typical late-capitalist creations such as reality TV or talent shows (he did his own, Freaks 3000 (2003), which included only people with disabilities). Always a ferociously hard-worker, he contracted cancer aged 48 – and after years of neglect was asked to represent Germany at the Venice Biennale, which he posthumously won. A born exhibitionist, he documented his disease both on camera and via his blog.
Christoph Schlingensief
Christoph Schlingensief

But Schlingensief was not merely an attention-seeking purveyor of trash: he took a cue from Fassbinder’s politicised, crude realism and deplored Wenders’ pseudo-poetry, mocking the latter’s 1986 Palme d’Or acceptance speech for Wings of Desire by placing it on the telly in Hitler’s bunker. Schlingensief hated Wenders’ polished version of Germany pretending to be America. In Schlingensief’s view, Germans were a mixture of kitsch, guilt and perversity, and the figure of a greedy, amoral German crops up throughout his movies. (His own grandmother’s maiden name was Goebbels.)
He was also the first filmmaker to react to German reunification in 1990. The German Chainsaw Massacre (1990) appalls us with its presentation of a West German family consisting of morbidly deranged, bloodthirsty, flesh-hungry, money-obsessed crooks, plagued by sexual perversities and perceiving their Eastern compatriots, now arriving en masse in search of jobs, as nothing more than pieces of meat to be devoured – fuel for a lucrative sausage business. Superficially inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it contains unbelievable violence and tons of fake blood, as well as cannibalism, incest and rape, all in the style of a very funny absurdist comedy. In a similar vein, the last part of the Germany Trilogy, Terror 2000 (1991/92), depicts the greedy and disgusting locals of the fictional town of Rassau – including neo-Nazis, businessmen, a priest and a group of gangsters – mistreating and finally killing the refugees who are looking for work there.
The African Twintowers
The African Twintowers

Schlingensief’s love of provocation and the baroque also found expression in opera, which is the focus of Opera Village. At the end of his life, as a ‘gift to Africa’, he began the construction of an opera village in Burkina Faso. The building work is now entering its final phase and the exhibition at the German Embassy comprises documentary film, photos and a model of the project. Earlier, in 2004, his version of Wagner’s Parsifal had been unsurprisingly booed by the conservative audience at Bayreuth. As a response, his later film The African Twintowers (2008) included fictional adventures of the Wagner family as colonisers in Namibia when it was under German rule.
But despite his various provocations, his final testament remains that of tolerance: his last work was staging Luigi Nono’s opera Intolleranza 1960, posing questions about the potentially patronising nature of humanitarian aid and attendant exploitation in Africa.
Christoph Schlingensief’s films are available at www.filmgalerie451.de.
- www.bfi.org.uk/

Christoph Schlingensief: Chain Disaster 

Christoph Schlingensief

Christoph Schlingensief

Christoph Schlingensief , who has died aged 49, was the enfant terrible of German theatre and opera; his 20-year voyage of theatrical disruption and orgiastic mischief caused discomfort even to those who considered themselves to be provocative, while others thought his work to be little more than provocation for provocation's sake.   

 A more charitable view might be that this iconoclast used his platform continually to ask questions of the postwar political consensus. His critics – of whom there were many – argued that, having done so, he rarely stopped to listen to or consider the answers. That he still found both an audience and funding suggests that, no matter how uncomfortable his subject matter, Schlingensief nevertheless had something to say thanks to his fecund imagination and wide range of cultural reference.
Most notorious, perhaps, was his film trilogy made between 1989 and 1992, tackling several of his country's long-held taboos about recent history. 100 Years of Adolf Hitler was an absurdist depiction of the Führer's final hours in the bunker in 1945; The German Chainsaw Massacre questioned the wisdom of reunification as a group of East Germans are slaughtered at the hands of their liberators; Terror 2000 was a fresh and intoxicating consideration of the State's reaction to terrorism in the 1970s.
His subject matter may have been controversial, but his method of dealing with it was far more so. Vomit, excrement and orgasms – simulated or real – were his stock in trade. When one German critic described a stage version of Terror 2000, which included all these and more, as "resolutely juvenile", he was so thrilled that he put the quote on his website.
Nor was his art confined within the borders of Germany or to the conventional stage or screen. Former neo-Nazis were cast in a production of Hamlet in Zurich; an effigy of Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister, was burned in public; and, in a grotesque parody of the reality TV show Big Brother, asylum seekers were held in a container by the Vienna State Opera, watched by CCTV camera 24 hours a day, with members of the public invited to vote daily on who should be deported (they later turned out to be actors).
Neither was the British status quo safe. In one exhibition the Queen was depicted raising her arm in a Nazi salute, Camilla Parker-Bowles had animal blood in her hair and Diana, Princess of Wales, was depicted in bed with two men suffering from Down's syndrome. The public's reaction to Diana's death fascinated Schlingensief, but this was a taboo too far even for the liberal-minded London arts world. His exhibition The Last Hour, with its twisted metalwork from a crashed car, footage of a long tunnel and paparazzi pictures of the Princess, was in 2006 rejected by the Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park and instead ended up in a little-known gallery space in Bethnal Green.
He was even invited, in 2004, to breathe life into the hallowed corridors of Bayreuth, the high temple of German operatic civilisation. Critics braced themselves for a truly blasphemous production of Wagner's Parsifal under the baton of Pierre Boulez. But by this time Schlingensief's art – like the man himself, who suffered a mental breakdown during rehearsals after a series of screaming matches with Wolfgang Wagner – had run out of shock tactics. "No nude orgies or swastikas; instead, an often baffling, sometimes beautiful and always restlessly thoughtful vision emerged," noted The Daily Telegraph's critic.
Christoph Maria Schlingensief was born in Oberhausen on October 24 1960. He was attracted to film from an early age, but was twice rejected by the Munich School of Film and Television – adding to his constant quest to infuriate the established order. He eventually dropped out of university work with Werner Nekes, the experimental filmmaker.
In 1998 he founded Opportunity 2000, a political party that invited people to vote only for themselves. On another occasion he calculated that if six million people (the same number as were then unemployed in Germany) swam at the same time in Lake Wolfgang, in Austria, the water displacement would be sufficient to flood the nearby holiday home of Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The swim was banned by the authorities.
After lung cancer was diagnosed two years ago, the spiky-haired, spiky-natured Schlingensief calmed down considerably, but not totally. He began a dialogue about his mortality, reflected in a "cancer diary", Heaven Could not be as Beautiful as Here, and – provocative to the end – created an "opera village" in the unlikely location of Burkina Faso, an impoverished, landlocked African country.
Christoph Schlingensief, who died on August 21, is survived by Aino Laberenz, a costume designer, whom he married last year.   - www.telegraph.co.uk/

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