Michael KunzePassion Tagwache, niedriger Sonnenstand
30 April - 27 June 2015
Opening Wednesday, 29 April 2015, 6:00 pm
... III. WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?/SPIEGEL INTERVIEW
The so-called “Spiegel Interview” between Rudolf Augstein and Martin Heidegger took place on 23 September 1966. Heidegger’s condition for taking part in the interview was that it first be published after his death. It ultimately appeared under the title “Only a God Can Save” in the 31 May 1976 issue of the magazine “Der Spiegel”. The interview is a document of the inability of two generations to communicate with each other. Where Augstein inquired about historical entanglements, Heidegger responded with metaphysical ponderings. This unbridgeable gap, as well as the death of the protagonist that was negotiated in advance, appears to be voluntarily and involuntarily linked to the discussion of “annihilating Nothingness” from Heidegger’s inaugural lecture “What is Metaphysics” held on 24 July 1929, at the University of Freiburg. The link supplies a gloaming of the overlapping legibilities of text and image: the apparent encounter that takes place between rigid gestures at a round table of spirits in the darkened interior of a knowledge that can only be transmitted by way of parables. The wine glass in front on the desk shimmers back and forth in the last rays of light between lost boundaries. For all the plays of reflections present here, nobody notices whether the invisible hand of the nihilistic wanderer is raising a cup of hemlock or whether a vitreous dancer on the philosopher’s papers loses her final superfluous layer of clothing.
IV. WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?/KINGDOM
The main title for the ensemble of pictures called “What is Metaphysics?/Kingdom” references the round table of spirits that came about in conjunction with the 1966 conversation between Rudolf Augstein, the editor-in-chief and publisher of “Der Spiegel”, and Martin Heidegger (“What is Metaphysics?/ Spiegel Interview”). Martin Heidegger’s condition for taking part in the interview, namely that it first be published after his death (1976), set diverse spirits free. These include calculable and incalculable ones. The incalculable might for example include those that Lars von Trier gathered together in a grotesque hospital for his 1994 television series “The Kingdom”. “The Kingdom” appeared to be Europe’s answer to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”.
The abysses that open up behind the physically describable world do not lead to philosophy, but to a gloomy world of madness instead in which the comic and the monstrous are parallel to each other. Only two employees with Down’s syndrome, who work in a dark kitchen space in the hospital’s basement, know something about the uncanny goings-on that are enmeshing physicians and patients in a dense net of real and unreal moments. Lars von Trier links his production to a northern European tradition that includes Ibsen, Strindberg, Hamsun, Berman, etc. that represents a psychologically unfathomable variation of continental European culture in which a textually entwined spirit is at work that is guided less by a stringently chronological plot development than by complex undercurrents.
In the hospital’s nocturnal kitchen as well as in the darkened philosophical library, spirits are trying to figure out a disturbed world in which light can only deliver the promised knowledge if it does not dispel the spirits.
V. RUPERT’S WORDS
In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film “Rope”, a conversation takes place between the philosophy teacher Rupert and the other dinner guests about Friedrich Nietzsche’s ambiguously seductive moral philosophy: because the laws of morality are only valid for the “average person”, a murder for murder’s sake, i.e. the ultimate immoral act, would have to be the ideal instrument of demonstrating a privileged individual’s cultural superiority. Nietzsche is naturally misinterpreted in this mix-up of the aesthetic and the ethic spheres. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, the short-circuited analogy of an artwork for an artwork’s sake inspires the murderer and his helper to act: the corpse of the friend who was otherwise also invited as a guest to the dinner party and had been murdered without motive, has been lying all evening in a chest on which plates and food had been placed. Just as the perfect murder is an expression of an absolute free will to create the perfect work of art, the party taking place after the murder with all of the victim’s friends is “the artist’s signature”.
But the philosophy teacher turns into a detective over the course of the evening and discovers the murderer. He points in the process to the borderline of a reality in which the words concerning autonomy, freedom and sublimity are no longer valid. He seems, however, to be contradicting himself as well as Nietzsche’s misunderstood thesis, which in any case has long evaporated in the evening small talk on a parenthetically glossed-over abyss...