Of the Utopian Attempt to Produce Change Together
A Precarious Singspiel by Beate Engl, Leonie Felle and Franka Kaßner
Exhibitionview Lenbachhaus / Kunstbau, Munich 2019
PREKÄROTOPIA is entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events or living persons, however, is hardly coincidental.
The artists Beate Engl, Leonie Felle, and Franka Kaßner star in the roles of Speaker, Poupée, and Trickster, who live in the system PREKÄROTOPIA between dance number and wrecking ball. The play’s title blends the “precariat” and “utopia” in a kind of ambiguous figure— depending on one’s angle of view, it is an emblem of possibility or utter impossibility.
Dramaturgically and musically, too, the performance is a roller coaster of contrasts and sudden shifts: now trapped in individualistic and misanthropic isolation, now filled with euphoria by their shared struggle against the existing conditions, the characters are neither static nor prototypical, developing over the course of the play, approaching, and ultimately failing to achieve, mutual understanding.
Altogether twelve songs with lyrics and music by the artists—including a breathy chanson, impassioned agitation, and a bawled punk balla —outline an aesthetic of politicalideological difference and raise questions concerning the form and impact of joint political action. With a nod to Bertolt Brecht’s definition of the “Beggar’s Opera” as a play for rather than about beggars, PREKÄROTOPIA is proposed not as a diagnosis of contemporary society but as a vehicle of communication.
PREKÄROTOPIA is based on an unorthodox interpretation of the tradition of the Singspiel, a—usually comedic—theatrical performance with musical interludes. Emerging in the early eighteenth century, the format evolved into a simpler middlebrow counterpart to the lavishly produced courtly opera. Engl, Felle, and Kaßner have taken inspiration from a wide range of models, from Soviet-era artists’ theater productions and revolutionary leftist workers’ songs from the 1920s to German revue films to American 1950s aqua-musicals and Neue Deutsche Welle music videos.
Curated by Stephanie Weber
1040 x 265 x 500 cm
WELCOME TO PREKÄROTOPIA, 2019
Wood, aluminum, light bulbs, diamond cut caps, hemp rope, DMX control
600 x 120 x 12 cm
12 globes, microphone stand, aluminum tape, shellac, organ keyboard, lacquered wood, switch, cable
Dimensions variable, organ body: 120 x 90 x 40 cm
Epoxy, paper, shellac, plaster, linen tape, metal substructure, electric motor
230 x 195 x 145 cm
HAND OF THE CAPITAL, 2018
Hand chair, hose, hydraulic lift, weights, compressor, time control
120 x 120 x 220/400 cm
POUPÉES DISCO, 2019
Rotating RGB LED lamps, jute cables
PREKÄRER EINBAU, 2019
650 x 327 x 442 cm
WRECKING BALL, 2019
Diameter: 75 cm, height variable
3-piece: zinc, rivets, rubber profile
ø 25 x 60 cm, ø 38 x 90 cm, ø 58 x 134 cm
Barrel organ, punched music tape, trolley, paper tape, honeycomb board
130 x 80 x 58 cm, music tape: 820 x 11 cm
Film: Adrian Campean, Hagen Keller, Felix Pflieger, Felix Press
Concept and cut: Beate Engl, Leonie Felle, Franka Kaßner
Digital 35, 16:9, 41 min.