Wutbürger
Video installation, custom made box
Catalogue available at DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin: distanz.de/books/wutbuerger.html
The video installation "Wutbürger" deals with the personal anger and individual failure of a German man. The protagonist Stefan W. (an "Everyman") lives through different stages of his life in retrospective, which finally casts him to a hostile present, that becomes a prison with no way back. In a custom-built wooden box, a five-hour performance was first recorded and is now exhibited in exactly this box (rear projection) again. During a guerilla intervention tour through Germany ("Isolation episode"), the box was placed in front of typical locations carrying a collective "Wutbürger potential" (Nuclear power plants, European Central Bank, Mass surveillance facilities) but also containing elements of personal anger like hedonism, boring suburbs, neglect. The box acts as a demonstrating and protesting surrogate for everybody.

In Germany, "Wutbürger" are people who share a common feeling of disappointment about politics and who manifests anger through public demonstrations. The anger of these people mostly is directed to a collective target.
But what about the singular "Wutbürger"? The individual anger and disappointment of an individual? The individual anger and disappointment of any of us? What if one´s life is ruled by the feelings of frustration and powerlessness?
What happens when a single man suddenly directs all this anger at himself?
Scenes from the 5 hour performance

Act I: Time off / Auszeit, 0 min > 20 min
Act II: Martina / Martina, 20 min > 37 min
Act III: Mother / Mutter, 37 min > 50 min
Act IV: School / Schule, 50 min > 1 h 18 min
Act V: Teenage years / Adoleszenz, 1h 18 min > 1h 41 min
Act VI: Military service / Bundeswehr, 1 h 41 min > 2h 17 min
Act VII: Love / Liebe, 2 h 17 min > 2h 44 min
Act VIII: Everyday / Alltag, 2 h 44 min > 3 h 0 min
Act IX: Collapse / Zusammenbruch, 3 h 0 min > 3 h 25 min
Act X: Reckoning / Abrechnung, 3 h 25 min > 3h 43 min
Act XI: Retreat / Rückzug, 3 h 43 min > 4 h 2 min
Act XII: Accusation / Anklage, 4 h 2 min > 4 h 19 min
Act XIII: Salvation / Erlösung, 4 h 19 min > 4 h 54 min

Isolation episode
For the "Isolation episode", the box was exposed against 13 different objects and situations throughout Germany to analyze the dialectic of the word "Wutbürger" again. First, the box was placed as a substitution in front of typical places with collective "Wutbürger potential" (Nuclear power plants, European Central Bank, Mass surveillance facilities) but also personal anger fields (hedonism, boring suburbs, neglect) and acted as a demonstrating and protesting surrogate for everybody. At the same time parts of the 13 acts performed live in the box and the objective anger and the personal anger of Stefan W. were mixed together and put in relation.


All Isolation episodes: Nürnberg (Act V), München (Act I), Randolfsee (Act XI), Leipzig (Act X), Frankfurt (Act VII), Grafenrheinfeld (Act VI), Halle (Act IX), Berlin (Act XIII), Hoher Bogen (Act IV), Bayerischer Wald (Act III), Oranienburg (Act XII), Sektor F (Act II).
Watch all videos here: https://vimeo.com/wutbuerger
Diary and transcript
In preparation for and during the live performance, a fictional diary (Moleskine, 192 pages) was authored and pictured by the actor. The entire performance was transcripted and published as a small book (A5 format, 232 pages).

Confrontation episode
For the "Confrontation episode", the recorded performance is presented as a video installation in the box again. This episode started in November 2014 and is realized continuously in collaboration with Biennials and other exhibition venues.

Review: "The Wutbürger" - Hybrid Art or Something Else? (© Frauke Nowak, 2014)
»If I remember correctly, Heinrich von Kleist once said that one can learn the most from mediocre works of art—anyone can immediately recognize perfection and beauty. But when brilliant elements mix with unimportant or ugly ones, it takes discernment. These works force viewers to clarify their own position and put the skills of the critic to the test.
The space contains a free-standing box, about 220 cm high and 150 cm across with a screen covering the entirety of the box. What we’re about to see is rage as performance. A man, life-size, is standing in the box, locked in. He talks, he shaves, he draws and scribbles on a blackboard behind him, shouts and screams, fighting with imaginary people, rages against them, an impotent reckoning, ending in underpants and naked skin painted.
Classic one-man theatre, a synthesis of European drama and American psycho action, entitled: “The Wutbürger”, the “raging everyman”. The stage: a portable projection svagbox; there’s also a printed script available and the website www.wutbuerger.in.
Do we need this? Does it work? A negative term used in German media as video performance? For four and a half hours, the Wutbürger is given space to say what drives him up the wall. Captured, left to rage on his own, existentially isolated, but portable all the same. Anger captured on video, playable anywhere, in the Bavarian Forest, in the middle of Alexanderplatz, in front of the nuclear power plant, online, at home, making the international recontextualization of a regional concept possible, a portable space for rage. The constant image of an upstanding citizen: a white, middle-aged man, the political nucleus of the modern state, loudly quarreling with the world. Immediately illuminating, but tiring and annoying as performance.
Even if we ignore the gender issues, the whole piece has a vintage feeling: the personal is political! Rage that’s been deemed taboo, a legitimate rage against social, cultural, financial and political impotence! These could be general reasons! Which actually doesn’t interest anyone much: the man on the digital TV stage is on a different track; the audience prefers to talk. Aestheticized agit-prop before a liberal audience: the “opportunity to listen for once” passes constantly and that becomes visible. No one’s going to sit there and listen to you for four hours. Politics as the unresolved entrapment of human existence in a zoo situation. Is rage pervasive, but can’t normally be experienced virtually everywhere?
The fundamental anthropological category of Wutbürger shown here, a domesticated imitation of Klaus Kinski, can be understood as the origin of the political system. It’s kind of funny, kind of goofy, and simultaneously sympathetic and unsympathetic. Helplessly screaming at the system? Isn’t that us? But which “we” in these times of Pegida, war in Ukraine, and terrorism? Rituals of rage, give it here! But religion and rage? Who keeps their cool here and why and does rational superiority win in the end?
Innovative techno freaks, directors, shaped by media and yet cryptic, have created the svagbox as an experimental human machine interaction tool and used it artistically. But where’s the art in this experiment? In the object, the script, or the performance? It’s all multi-layered media, and an example: the performance is interchangeable and other films are possible for the portable mini big screen. Another live act for the internet is conceivable.
Keep calm and carry on, indeed.
Who offers more?«
Artist's bio
Andreas Genschmar (*1974) is a German actor and musician from East-Berlin. Today he lives and works in Berlin.
Christoph Grünberger (*1975) is a German illustrator and designer from Munich, where he still lives and works.
Andreas Lutz (*1981) is a German engineer and media artist from Freiburg i. Br. He lives and works in Berlin.
Downloads
Synopsis video installation as PDF: Wutbuerger-Videoinstallation-Synopsis.pdf
Press release catalogue DISTANZ Verlag: distanz.de/fileadmin/Downloads/Distanz_PM_Wutbuerger.zip