09 10 05


Elisabeth Steger

As a narcissistic sponge in satiety I would like express some of the impressions I got during "In your camp there´s Austria" in the "Stadt des Kindes" (the Town of the Child). Keeping the balance as a frontier commuter and acting again in sovereign precariousness these are my intentions for this year 2005, Christian Chronology. You know this forced jubilee in Austria carries you away.

For decades Marianne Fritz, an Austrian author, has been writing on her "Fortress-Project". She still does so and creates with it a musical, radical and complex prose cosmos consisting of thousands of written and, in parts drawn, pages which is quite simply extra-ordinary. She describes the Fortress as "a petrified soul-landscape" (associations with present Europe and the state of emergency are welcome, dear readers). The main subject in her books is World War I . "Basically the collective happening called WAR is moved completely into language, in such a way, that the reader is able to get back his innocence, he <experiences> the literary disarranged war as the completely different" ( M.F. ) I think such a transformation is a noble aim if we consider that the war described was regarded as indescribable by a lot of contemporaries – indescribable with words. "In the Fortress Marianne Fritz is fighting against the institution of the Catholic Church as a political power. Her work contains a non-history of Austria/the bygone monarchy" experts were telling in the camp, experts whom I trust. Incidentally these are the reasons why I, an active recipient of pieces of performing art, chose this last installation of the Stadt Theater Wien to be subject of this interim report. Additionally I suppose that memories of my own school-ground – also a piece of 70ies architecture - drew my attention to this specific site somewhat stronger than any other building would have done.

Fritz’s writing gives birth to an extensive work – extensive in such a way that you would need more than one life if you ever had the idea to read all her un/published books. Moreover the books are really expensive or again out-of-print, therefore not easy available for everybody – so that in the 80ies reading Fritz-texts was seen as an activity of selected snobs or experts – an expert said. Maybe this is still the case. I do not mind. Creating public space for this literary work which deserves to be read was one motivation of the Stadt Theater Wien to start a public appropriation, especially with Naturgemäß / Naturally I and II in Fritzpunkt (Fritzpoint) which opened the doors on April 9th 2002 ."In your camp there´ s Austria – an inhabitable scenic installation with house rules - Fritzpoint on the scene of action 3 " which took place just recently established a confrontation between an architectural/social model for the education of children - the Town of the Child, which was built on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Austrian republic in the years 1970-74 by the architect Anton Schweighofer – and Fritz’s Fortress.

The building including a gymnasium, in-door-pool and theatre has been unoccupied for years – a sorry sight not only for me writing these lines. The performers, the neighbours and other visitors I talked to confirmed this opinion.

But the whole thing left back a very cosy feeling and I confess: I am still a little stuck in "In your camp there` s Austria", this installation I inhabited. Let’s start from "The Starting Point":

"A singular point falls victim to an extremely rare disease, he reflected on himself and was so frightened at this falling that he showed peculiarities which made him contrasting with the other points on the circular line, irreparably contrasting, he was no longer able to be devoted to the circular line, points which are reflecting on themselves get hurt easily, get bumps and look like a thumb in a thumbscrew."

You enter a new chronology when you pass the border to "In your camp there’s Austria". The FEZ (Fritz Einheits Zeit) is established throughout the whole performance project (22.9.2005 7 p.m. MET to 29.9.2005 10 p.m. MET) and, you know, a FEZ day has only 21 hours! 21 hours with all the consequences.

In the beginning of the text-performance "The Non-marks in the site" programmes were handed out to clue up the unsuspecting audience: An architectural ground plan of the Town of the Child in a transparent sheet. This outline is marked with the stations of the walking performance to enable the audience to get the right orientation through reading it. Stations according to selected text-parts were: The Starting Point, The Linguistic-Sign-Street, To-The-Falls, 32 Storeys, Cracks and Splits, All Around, The Stupid Child, To The Ropes.

Overleaf there is space left for personal notes. If you do not want to write down your thoughts you just leave the empty paper in the transparent sheet on which a few sentences written by the author Marianne Fritz are printed on: "...transparency like nowhere reigned in the crucial storey..." and the space is filled immediately. When turned around the whole thing changes into a week-planner in FEZ (and MET – for comparison) and the daily order of "In your camp there` s Austria" superimposes the architectural ground plan.

A FEZ-day – Naturally - starts with a performance! Next comes dinner. Then there is time to sleep. Early exercises are followed by breakfast. The time until lunch could be used to hear or read M.F. in a set up library. And after all that there is still time left for a walk.

In addition to that the public-address system was put into operation so everyone on the site and the near neighbourhood was informed too about the "right" time and knows what´ s the word.

"Time lifting patience leads back into time, so that the event of falling out of time can come up to discussion in which this event is at the same time stunned and not really ominous at a standstill."

I took part in the performance "The Non-Marks in the Site" three times. As you know, all good things come in threes. This is my third camp experience at all. They all have been border-camps: in the 70s a tent camp with girls from the young Catholic parish near the border between Germany and Czech Republic, in 2003 a no-border camp at the outskirts of Timisoara near the border to Hungary with the publiXtheatrecaravan and last but not least this "Fritz-camp" at the outskirts of Vienna – a playful invitation to play "camp" as well as a serious trial of the circumstances.

These are remarkable facts: to be part of a performance which starts at 7 o´ clock in the morning – abruptly you realize all the social pressures of this evening parties with which theatre plays are ending because there is no evening and therefore - no pressure. The day (in MET) just started. While walking through a building which is a former social format you are invited to follow at the same time a virtual walk through the Fortress of M.F. in which "She expanded the canon of written language with -in summa- social elements" (a literary experts voice) a successful experiment of combination. Not to speak of the deep light humour which had his finger in the pie – in both pies: the work of M.F. and the performers play.

If you are aware of the broken borders between actors and visitors a big space for self-reflection is opened. You know: we are living in post-dramatic ages and the whole building during the projects duration is the stage (which is confirmed through the permanent presence of the film-maker who commissioned herself – like me).

It depends on you and your perceptive faculties. The weather -Naturally- plays a role too.

Like the frequent desorientation of the reader - which is structurally designed in the labour of M.F. ( an experts voice again with which I want to agree because of my own reading experience), the confusions in time and space which could be noticed in the entrants of "In your camp there` s Austria" were intended through the set up installation. Performative expressions happened. Instead of simply describing social facts were created.

P.S. If the local government were interested in a lasting effort this piece of architecture would have not been given away from public authorty. A job creation could have been started for example. Local government is acting untrustworthy.

P.P.S. o-dorn-A is a character of the Fortress. An anagrammatically Adorno.

Elisabeth Steger