Weimar makes a pact with the devil of art | Entertainment | The USA Print

Weimar makes a pact with the devil of art

On an international level, the name Weimar refers directly to the republic that was established after the First World War, and at the same time to the birth of one of the most important art schools of the 20th century: the Bauhaus. The year is 1919. Previously, thanks to the patronage of the ducal family, which acted like the Medici, it attracted figures such as Bach, Goethe, Schiller and Herder, and gave the city a cultural patina, which it keeps alive.

With German unification, Weimar, like many eastern cities, lost population. Today, however, with almost 70,000 inhabitants, Weimar shines again with its own light. Culture, which has never abandoned it, has been its salvation: the historic center has been restored, UNESCO has declared it a world heritage site and in 1999 it was the European capital of culture. And just with the unification, in 1990 the arts festival, the Kunstfest, was created, which this year celebrated its 33rd edition. Like Goethe’s Faust, who lived and died in Weimar, the city of Thuringia has also made a pact with the devil, but this devil has its own name: art.

A miracle

Rolf C. Hemke has managed to revive an art fair that was dying in five years

Now, five years ago the festival was on the verge of being closed. And this is where Rolf C. Hemke comes in. Arriving from Cologne, and with the experience of having directed other festivals, Hemke decided to accept the challenge and take charge of the dying festival. The result? Five years later, he has managed to revive it.

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In the current edition that ends today, the Weimar Kunstfest has brought together dozens of events from all artistic disciplines, in addition to the premiere of the opera Missing in song, by the Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud, or the representation of the Ubu by Robert Wilson, with figurines by Joan Miró, which the Weimar Art Festival co-produced with the Grec Festival of Barcelona. Mission accomplished.

But what is Hemke’s secret? “The first thing I did was knock on the doors of anyone who could be a sponsor of the festival.” The main financial contributions come from the Thuringian government and the German National Theatre, “but in festivals of this type you always have to weave a lot of complicity. And that’s what I’ve done. The city has given itself and I have been able to have the festival I wanted.”

We must not forget that in the middle of these five years there was the pandemic: “Then it occurred to me to look for an esplanade to set up a drive-in movie theater. And I added theater, with an L-shaped stage that partially surrounded the screen. “We produced seven shows with this format, which combined theater and images.”

Great ideas are what move the world forward, and Hemke is very grateful to the authorities because they never considered closing anything: “With limited capacity or outdoor shows, the festival could be held,” he observes.

The director of the Weimar Art Festival, Rolf C. Hemke, in front of the museum hosting the exhibition on Nietzsche's furniture

The director of the Weimar Art Festival, Rolf C. Hemke, in front of the museum hosting the exhibition on Nietzsche’s furniture

Victor Poch

One of the relevant shows of recent days was Kriegsweihe (Consecration of war), by the German composer Marc Sinan. Throughout the day, different actions toured the city, like a war horse explaining Napoleon’s battle, two music bands of military origin, a young woman and an older man who sang to each other from one side of the lake to the other… And In the afternoon everything converged on the Theater Square, where the statues of Goethe and Schiller commemorate their friendship, in front of the majestic building of the German National Theatre.

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But when the different actions began to come together, the public discovered that the monument was covered with plastic (photo). “Do we have permission to do it? –says the director–. Well no, because they would never have given it to us. But if someone asks me, I answer emphatically yes.” He is Rolf C. Hemke, the visionary who has resurrected an entire festival, today an artistic reference in Eastern Germany and Europe.

The opera ‘Missing in cantu’ warns about the extreme right

For four years, Thomas Köck has premiered a piece at each edition of the Weimar Art Festival. “He’s like a secret resident artist, but now everyone knows it,” jokes the festival director. The Austrian author, who participated some time ago in the Beckett Hall’s International Drama Workshop, has arrived this year in Weimar with the world premiere of the opera Missing in cantu. Based on the play that premiered in Munich last season, Köck has worked on the libretto with the composer Johannes Maria Staud, also Austrian, to adapt it to the operatic format and reduce its duration. While Staud is euphoric after the premiere, Köck appears restrained and declares to The vanguard: “There are too many recited fragments.” The playwright’s work is marked by the fight against the advance of the extreme right in Europe, a fact that he also denounces in this piece, which presents three historical moments, past, present and future, which are, respectively, the colonization of America, ” which is when capitalism is born”; a suburb of the United States, where capitalism has reached the maximum levels of degradation and extremism; and, in the future, a kind of patriarch witnesses the disappearance of the world as we know it today. “Köck has masterfully woven these three stories,” explains Staud, “and I have given them three musical tones, according to each era.” The United States fragments are very reminiscent of the tone of musicals. The next day, the German press reported on this premiere.

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