Spuk unterm Kapitol
The latest research project of Panzerkreuzer Rotkäppchen with the title “Spuk unterm Kapitol” relates two photos to each other:
The first photo shows participants in the January 6, 2021 “Storming of the Capitol” in Washington, D.C., including the so-called “Quanon Shaman.” The second photo is a film still from the famous GDR television series “Spuk unterm Riesenrad,” episode 1: “Die Ausreißer” (1979).
Although the two photos were taken in very different cultural contexts, their similarities stand out. These similarities concern both the form (motif, color scheme, and composition) and the subject of the photographs.
Both photos memetically stage a dis/placement: they depict people or characters appearing in a place where they do not belong. Like ‘uninvited guests’ from another time, the Trump supporters in Viking costumes stand in the democratic halls of the Capitol, while the three ghosts from a medieval past sit on Alexanderplatz, in the center of the capital of the socialist GDR.
In both photos, fur and hairstyles are attributes of the “time travelers,” inhabiting a modern setting (Capitol, Alexanderplatz). Are these uncanny similarities between the two photos mere coincidence in the vastness of the Internet, or do they have an operative core? And if so, what is it?
Panzerkreuzer Rotkäppchen’s research project explores the uncanny similarities between the two photos.
On which levels can the similarities between the two photos be located?
How can the similarities be theatrically elaborated?
Where does the uncanniness in the synopsis of both photos come from?
On the basis of a classical research on the respective context of origin and use of the two photos, we reconstruct the photos in theatrical reenactments.
With the reenactments we reconstruct a scenic composition for each photo: we design a stage set with the corresponding lighting moods for each picture. We recreate the figures depicted in the photo live through actresses with the respective costumes, props and postures.
In a second step, we ask about the clash – the cross-fades – between the two images. How does one* get from one image to the other? Which elements of one image can be found in the other and how?
The necessary alterations of stage, costumes, lighting, props and embodiment work are a direct part of the research and will also be recorded on video.
In a third and final step we summarize our results with the video material. With the techniques of video editing (e.g. time-lapse, zoom, loop, filter, sound) we exhibit the results of our theatrical research.
The project “Spuk unterm Kapitol” is highly topical. It focuses not only on the content of the image archives of the U.S. and the GDR and their “uncanny valleys”.
What does a GDR children’s series have to do with post-fascist protests in the U.S.?
The project is also connectable to formal discourses, such as the theatrical reproduction of memes.
Theater makers in the future will think about memes as a practice in theater. Our project has the potential for input on the topic. This input practices at the same time what it thinks about by testing live action memes in theatrical formats on a concrete example