Beyond Wagner’s FutureS

Beyond Wagner’s FutureS

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Philipp Khabo Koepsell & Susan Arndt, Beyond Wagner’s FutureS, 2015, installation view, picture: Lara Buchmann

Exhibition project by Philipp Khabo Koepsell, Lara Sophie Milagro, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky in cooperation with researcher Susan Arndt.

The collaborative project by Philipp Khabo Koepsell and Susan Arndt scrutinizes an often neglected part of the reception of Bayreuth’s most famous citizen, namely Richard Wagner and his colonialist fantasies. Hitler’s adoration of Wagner’s music was in line with the latter’s völkisch agenda and his anti-Semitic brochure “Das Judenthum in der Musik”. Correspondingly, Wagner’s colonialist visions of conquering places in Africa and the Americas feature willingly as the ‘leitmotivic’ soundtrack of colonialist films.

Once we are aware of his devastating visions of the future of African and Jewish peoples,
can we ever feel comfortable again listening to his music and experiencing it as purely beautiful? What happens if we confront Wagner’s visions with a future that he did not have in mind? What happens if Black acts of scrutiny, abrogation and appropriation are applied to his work?

Philipp Khabo Koepsell revisits Wagner’s future, providing odd smells and new colours to scrutinize and silence Wagner’s texts and their futures. Afro-German voices, spoken word meets opera, have the last say in a poem by Koepsell and a Wagner aria sung by Lara Sophie Milagro as the new ‘Zukunftsmusik’.

Posters artworks by Paul D. Miller continue the project of ‘Black Remixing of Wagner’, where imagination intervenes into historical truths and their futures. Cards are shuffled anew. Accordingly, motifs from Wagner’s operas are remixed with the iconography of card games –in itself a citation of popular culture.