Exhibition view
Exhibition view
Alexander Kluge, Weasel with a Bat. Drawing by Grandville, print on wood, 2020
Alexander Kluge, Night Flight / Volo di notte. Futuristic opera by Luigi dalla Piccola, film montage, film still, 2019
Alexander Kluge, Blinker for Artillerymen, film still, 2019

Alexander Kluge. Opera: The Temple of Seriousness

(Videolinks see below)

The exhibition is divided up into nine stations, which are, in turn, structured into nine subsections. The stations are arranged in the space as a montage of constellations and overlap one another both architecturally and visually. On the one hand, the stations reflect "opera" as a subject with a direct relationship to the forms of performance that are characteristic of it: the sky in the dome of opera houses, the temple and its bedrock, and the larynx, in which the voice is formed. On the other, the historical narratives of opera are combined with a new and/or further narration of its material with a temporal reference to the interwar and postwar modernism until our present. Alexander Kluge comments on these processes as follows: "In Stuttgart, the focus is on INTELLIGENCE, MODERNITY, and COGNITION. All three categories are innately somewhat alien to opera. At the same time, as is known from the business of matchmaking: Opposites attract."

Scenically, the stations are structured by "stage sets" that link the history and/or stories of the military, love, technology, architecture, and opera with respect to motif. The connection to the history of the development of opera is produced by means of the stage set designed by Anna Viebrock for the performance of Berenice, Queen of Armenia (Il Vologeso) at the Staatsoper in Stuttgart in 2015. The overall look of the exhibition is also borrowed from the Baroque. It takes up allegorical backdrops, the emblematic interleaving of very diverse levels of meaning, and their event-like character in large- as well as miniature format. The fact that László Moholy-Nagy, a later protagonist of the Bauhaus, worked on the development of ordnance maps for howitzers during the First World War is astonishing. As many people are not aware, a rebellion of "specialists in destruction," a rebellion of young, intelligent artillery officers, took place in the middle of this war. Thus, the basis for the architectural constructivism of interwar modernism arises from the constraints and crises of the battlefield. The overall staging that overlays the eras and spaces positions opera pieces like the Futurist opera Night Flight (Volo di notte) by Luigi dalla Piccola next to the modernism of a new Medea composition that, connected with a post-revolutionary staging of shortly after 1800, focuses on the valid version from the twenty-first century of Hans Thomalla (Fremd, 2011, Staatsoper Stuttgart). As a master of twelve-tone music, Michael Gielen—Kluge’s patron, on whom he relies as far as opera is concerned—comments that it is a constellation of intervals with a regressive, totalitarian nature that simultaneously necessitates such a serial quality, without which the power relations in Alban Berg’s Lulu could not be manifested with all their "logic" and "hopelessly muddled quality." "In the third act, Jack the Ripper murders the soprano." When Kluge describes Gielen as an "equivalent of Frankfurt Critical Theory in music, what is meant with this claim is a fractured dialectical relationship that is no longer entitled to simple synthesis. The attraction of opposites would then be successful and the opera would be a place for "INTELLIGENCE, MODERNITY, and COGNITION."


Schlossplatz 2
D-70173 Stuttgart
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Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart