The postcolonial Gesamtkunstwerk: Disrupting the Eurocentric perspective on art history and addressing Germany’s colonial history
Opera Village Africa, a participatory art experiment by the late German multimedia
artist Christoph Schlingensief, serves as a testing ground for a critical
interrogation of Richard Wagner’s notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk. Sarah
Hegenbart traces the path from Wagner’s introduction of the Gesamtkunstwerk
in Bayreuth to Schlingensief’s attempt to charge the idea of the total artwork
with new meaning by transposing it to the West African country Burkina Faso.
Schlingensief developed Opera Village in collaboration with the
world-renowned architect Francis Kéré. This final project of Schlingensief is
inspired by and illuminates the diverse themes that informed his artistic
practice, including coming to terms with the German past, anti-Semitism,
critical race theory, and questions of postcolonial (self-)criticism.
From Bayreuth to Burkina Faso
introduces the notion of the postcolonial Gesamtkunstwerk
to disrupt the Eurocentric perspective on art history, exploring how the socio-political force of a postcolonial Gesamtkunstwerk
could affect processes of transcultural identity construction. It reveals how Schlingensief translocated the Wagnerian concept to Burkina Faso to address German colonial history and engage with it from the perspective of multidirectional memory cultures.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
Opera of Ambiguities
Egomania – Germany Without Hope? Rectifying the impression that Schlingensief staged a Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk at the Venice Biennial 2011
From Bayreuth to Burkina Faso: Stripping the Gesamtkunstwerk of its German coordinates
The Mission of a Contemporary Parsifal: Redeeming Germany in Burkina Faso
Revolving Opera and Psychic Interiors: The Animatograph
Readymade and Azione Scenica: Schlingensief’s Expanded Definition of Opera
Opera Village as postcolonial Gesamtkunstwerk?
The Gesamtkunstwerk: Smashed or revived?
Monograph - ebook
November 30, 2022
Sarah Hegenbart is lecturer in art history at Technical University of Munich and previously acted as a substitute for the professorship of art research with a focus
on contemporary arts at the Braunschweig University of Art (HBK Braunschweig). She is a member of 'Die Junge Akademie Mainz' and member of the consortium of the Horizon 2020 research project ‘Art and Research on Transformations of Individuals and Societies’.
The author offers fresh theoretical
perspectives on Schlingensief’s work, as when they connect it to concepts such
as narcissism or dialogical images. Also the author’s great field research in
Burkina Faso and the first-hand interviews conducted there distinguish the book
from previous studies.
Ilinca Todorut, Babes-Bolyai University,
This is the first major study of the Opera village. The author has an excellent command not only of the scholarship on Schlingensief but also on Wagner, and all the current discussions on post-colonialism that continue to preoccupy the public sphere. It is an extremely timely contribution to a set of topical and also controversial discussions.
Christopher Balme, LMU Munich