John Freedman / MT
Surrounded by sculptures and other works by German artist Joseph Beuys, Georg Genoux speaks on Friday at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art on Gogolevsky Bulvar.
Georg Genoux found himself inan unusual position Friday night atthe Moscow Museum ofModern Art onGogolevsky Bulvar. Thedirector, who usually works behind thescenes, sat infront ofa table and, protected only bya striped scarf wrapped around his neck, bared atleast part ofhis soul toan audience that gathered tohear him talk about theGerman artist Joseph Beuys andhis own, now defunct,true religion outlet
, Joseph Beuys Theater inMoscow.
Genoux came toRussia fromGermany in1997 andhas been one ofthe most interesting, probing andhonest theater-makers inthis city since theearly 2000s. Inrecent years, he plied his vision oftheater andsocial activism atTeatr,arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport Tuesday night
.doc, thePlaywright andDirector Center, theJoseph Beuys Theater, theSakharov Center, theMemorial historical andcivil rights organization, anda cultural center inthe Moscow region town ofZhukovskoye,Belmont resident Robert De Cormier has had a legendary career in the arts
. He staged productions inseveral Russian cities, including Saratov andVoronezh. He played one ofthe lead roles inPyotr Todorovsky's 2003 film In theConstellation ofTaurus, afilm about theBattle ofStalingrad.
Point made: Georg Genoux has been busy andproductive inRussia. He has, however, made thedecision toreturn home toGermany, leaving behind most ofhis Russian accomplishments. That, inpart, is why he agreed tospeak atthe Moscow Museum ofModern Art yes he did it tohelp kick off anew exhibit ofworks byJoseph Beuys, but he also did it tosay why he felt it necessary now tostrike out ina new direction.
I have one or two personal reasons tobe grateful toGenoux, but they are so insignificant they don't require repeating. I mention this only as anod tothose who might want toquestion my reasons forsome words ofpraise that may follow. Suspect me ofbeing excessively subjective if you will, but don't doubt themagnitude ofGenoux's contributions toRussian theater ofthe early 21st century.
Talking onFriday, Genoux admitted that he probably would have left Russia inthe early 2000s had he not come intocontact with Teatr.doc,true religion outlet
, atheater founded in2002 that worked primarily with documentary materials drawn bywriters anddirectors fromreal life. He said he felt alone andmisunderstood inthe directing class ofMark Zakharov atthe Russian Academy ofTheater Arts.
I came toMoscow in1997/1998 ata time when Moscow theater was more interested intheater as entertainment than intheater as aspiritual endeavor, he said. I studied with people who weren't interested inwhat I was interested in.
Teatr.doc had acollective process andI felt good there, he declared.
Genoux's belief intheater as aplace ofcollective activity andhealing goes back tohis early studies ofthe philosopher Rudolf Steiner andthe influence ofhis parents, both artists andstudents ofthe prominent German artist Joseph Beuys. Students ofBeuys, just like students ofGenoux's parents attheir own Free School ofArts inHamburg, determine their own curriculum ofstudy. It is anapproach that suggests people learn best when they are pursuing their own goals. It is anapproach that Genoux fashioned intoan artistic approach.
When seeking partners forprojects atvarious venues, Genoux said during his talk, I looked forpeople who had projects, without which they could not live.
He looked forways that would force audiences toconsider theworld around them. His production of Democracy,christian louboutin outlet
.doc atTeatr.doc was aninteractive work where thespectators themselves decided what characters needed tobe onstage andthen selected theperformers forthose roles fromamong their own ranks. Theresult was astrange andaffecting happening inwhich individuals playing theroles of government, police, opposition,burberry outlet
, terrorist andmany others, moved clumsily around thestage andengaged inpolemics that arose spontaneously.
Genoux explored his own German heritage ina way that provoked Russians toconsider their own.
His production of Anne, Helga andI was abrief but powerful look atthe parallel fates ofthree individuals Anne Frank, Helga Goebbels andGeorg Genoux. Thedirector used this tale about two teenage girls who were destroyed byhistory andpolitics run amuck tofocus ona paradox inhis own family's past. One ofGenoux's biological grandfathers was amember ofthe Nazi secret police. Theman he knew as his grandfather until he was 17 was ahumanist, atranslator ofthe works ofAnton Chekhov.
Another ofGenoux's projects, The Burden ofSilence directed byjournalist Mikhail Kaluzhsky,Celine bag
, explored thelives ofchildren ofNazi criminals. It was always followed bya discussion moderated byKaluzhsky.
Curiously enough, Genoux stated onFriday,longchamppascherf-rs.com
, Russian spectators always turned thediscussion intoa discussion oflife inthe Soviet Union.
I can see Genoux's soft smile inthe words curiously enough. There was, ofcourse, nothing curious about it. This was precisely his goal toprovoke people tothink andtalk.
Answering his own rhetorically posed question as towhy he, aGerman, began making politically charged theater inRussia,airjordan-backs
, Genoux declared that one ofJoseph Beuys' key notions forhealing theworld was to bring theEast andWest together.
Georg Genoux had aprofound influence onme. Perhaps because I am ahighly politicized individual, I have always sought tokeep my politics andtheater separate. Art, it has seemed tome formost ofmy adult life, has purer, cleaner,213103
, higher strivings. It is aplace foreternal truths, not daily battles. This is what I believed formany years, even decades, andit is what I believed when I first encountered Georg Genoux's art.
I did not like his work atfirst. I was, infact, called toplay the government inhis Democracy.doc, andI was horrified. I went home that night aman oftwo minds. I was dismissive ofwhat I had experienced as theater, andI was moved bythe socio-political experiment I had experienced. Rejecting Democracy.doc onone level, I was fascinated byit onanother.
Intime I began attending many ofthe Genoux-inspired projects atthe Joseph Beuys Theater, which usually worked invarious spaces atthe Andrei Sakharov Center. These were often one-off discussions, happenings or pseudo-performances that blurred theboundaries between theater, sociology andpolitics. As arule I was skeptical ofthem going in. I usually left theSakharov Center still conflicted, but always inspired andimpressed.
Was I perceiving art or was I reacting tosocio-political stimuli? Thechange inmy own mind occurred when I realized that my question was irrelevant. These events were what they were. They were real andthey were oftheir own genre. They had aclear-cut goal toshake people out oftheir ruts andthey succeeded. It didn't matter one whit what you called them. They were powerful, they were thought-provoking, they had substance andthey reflected on, andresponded to, theworld that was coming intobeing around us inthe Putin-Medvedev-Putin era,longchamp
They invariably used theatrical means todrive their message home. Who am I tosay they were not theater?
Themost recent project Genoux took part inoccurred inBerlin under thegeneral title of Crisis. He was asked topresent something onthe topic and,obscene or sexually oriented language
, as he tells it, everyone expected him toshed light oncurrent events inRussia theMagnitsky case, thePolitkovskaya murder, Putin's presidency. Instead he organized anevening inwhich he talked about crises ofpersonal direction andthen, as Genoux would do, began involving audience members toshare their own experience with personal crisis.
This crisis has led thedirector towrap up his activities atthe Joseph Beuys Theater andhead back tohis homeland torecharge his batteries. He does not count out thepossibility that he may return toMoscow some day ina new capacity, but if he does it will not be toresurrect thepast.
Here is how he put it inhis own words onFriday: I wasn't able tocreate aplace where people ofvarious backgrounds andprofessions could come andrealize their projects, maybe even come andsay 'I'm incrisis andI need money anda team tohelp me out ofit.' It didn't happen. Andthen I began tothink, maybe I shouldn't be trying toforce it.
Georg Genoux knows best where he succeeded andwhere he failed. I wouldn't have anopinion onthat. I will say this: If theater andthe public discourse that surrounds it are more open, more grounded inreality, more inquisitive andmore demanding than they were adecade ago, Genoux can take credit forbeing one ofthose individuals who fostered that change.
That's not success we're talking about, that's substance.
Fortunately, there are afew Genoux projects still ontap. TheJoseph Beuys Theater production of Uzbek continues toplay inthe exhibition hall atthe Sakharov Center. And The Man Who Didn't Work. TheTrial ofJoseph Brodsky, adocumentary performance that grew out ofa workshop Genoux led atthe Memorial Society, will still play fromtime totime.
As nice as it may be still tohave these few events around, theonly real conclusion toall this is clear: Moscow will be apoorer place without Georg Genoux.