My thoughts are wounds in my brain. My brain is a wound. I want to be a machine. Arms to grasp legs to walk no pain no thoughts

(Heiner Müller)

Galleria Fumagalli presents the video of the performance, that took place on December 28, 2015 at Il Piccolo Teatro d’Europa (Milan): “Jannis Kounellis, Theodoros Terzopoulos. Die Hamletmaschine by Heiner Müller”, curated by Annamaria Maggi and Alexandra Papadopoulos.

For the twentieth anniversary of the death of Heiner Müller, the artist Jannis Kounellis and the director Theodoros Terzopoulos, both friends and collaborators of the German playwright and poet, worked together on a theater project to pay homage to the figure and work of what was defined, in the nineties, “the greatest living playwright”. Müller was one of the most significant authors of the postwar German theater and has always had a solid relationship with visual arts. Premiered last December at Il Piccolo Teatro d’Europa the project by Kounellis and Terzopoulos consists of an installation (stage and audience), created by Kounellis, and a performance from Die Hamletmaschine written in 1977 by Heiner Müller, directed by Terzopoulos.

Die Hamletmaschine (Hamletmaschine) is a postmodern drama loosely based on the Hamlet of William Shakespeare. Peculiar of the work is the friction of the poetic word with the story, divided into five sequences of monologues in which the protagonist leaves his theatrical role to reflect on his being an actor. The interpreter of Hamlet finds himself morbidly tied to his character, struggling with his passions and his own ghosts. His is a rambling soliloquy in which are laid bare, on one hand, the abandon of any utopian impulse and, secondly, the paradoxes of the modern intellectual, torn between the inability to change the state of things and the will to turn into a machine at the service of the power. The result is a fragmented narration, with no harmony, as if the inner world of the Hamlet’s interpreter wanted to explode in the accidentally intrusion of shreds of sentences and barely audible sounds.

The relationship of Jannis Kounellis with the theater began in 1968 with the coal sacks’ scene for the theater of Quartucci, followed by the “barking dogs” for the Mauser by Heiner Müller in Berlin in 1991, the curtain of knives and the inverted cross for the Cimarron with music by Hanz Werner Heinze in Montepulciano in 2000, the three large trains inside a huge hangar designed for the Opera Beuys in Dusseldorf in 1998, the curtain of stones tied to ropes for the greek theater in Elefsina 2010 and the monumental “gothic” curtain of metal with benches on three levels for the Wagner Loengrin in Amsterdam in 2014. For each of these works the artist worked on a “curtain”, a “frontal view” without perspective, “just like in all modern painting”, using a language of real things: sacks of charcoal, fire, earth, wool, jute bags, plants, animals, – claiming to the artistic material its own truth and revelation power with poetic, literary and symbolic references. A real drama to be understood in terms of scenic writing, able to transform the space into a “theatrical and humanistic cavity”, as the artist says, because “it is the man the real point of view of the theater, its centrality, which unlike the painting has a development and a great immediacy.“

On the occasion of the second exhibition after the opening of the exhibition spaces in Milano, Galleria Fumagalli presents part of the installation conceived by Jannis Kounellis for Il Piccolo Teatro d’Europa and the video projection of the performance. Kounellis has thought of an Hamlet “with the back to the ruins of Europe” for an installation at the same time personal and social, against corruption and power. For this new performance Terzopoulos has selected excerpts from Die Hamletmaschine taking shape in the feminine voice of the actress Sofia Hill, the live electronic music of Panagiotis Velianitis and the male voice of the director.