To Harelip and Haemorrhoids
Julius Deutschbauer and Gerhard Spring have named a series of thirty texts 'Sprache der Behinderung' (The Language of Disability) that address various physical and mental disabilities: blindness, speech defects, the loss of limbs, but also comparatively banal deficiencies such as haemorrhoids or simply 'being ill'. The texts are based on fictive interviews, each of which is held with a named disabled person and an anonymous interviewer (an artist?). All thirty dialogues were staged and presented as readings staged for the video camera.
The texts, whose authors are Gerhard Spring and Julius Deutschbauer, generally go beyond simply describing the disability concerned and address all manner of everyday and private issues. A quite different language, an ideational one, often manifests itself behind the 'Language of Disability': that of social oppression or of religious mania, for example. In 'Hasenscharte' (Harelip) the dialogue between Norbert Wolfgruber and the interviewer revolves around inherited disabilities, the drama of the birth for the parents, the son's career as a paediatrician's receptionist and the articulation of vowels and consonants. "A harelip is a very serious matter" (Norbert Wolfgruber). In 'Hämorrhoiden' (Haemorrhoids) the interviewer has a discussion with Gottfried Reger. Here they talk about the right diet, about the possible causes of haemorrhoids and "Lanaklana" (the palindrome of 'analkanal'). Gottfried Reger: "Napoleon achieved a great deal despite his haemorrhoids."
The resulting videos all follow the same sparse production scheme, showing the two protagonists from the chest up sitting behind a table. The microphone is the only additional prop. A kind of documentary style is suggested here that becomes less authentic as the language used becomes more baroque. As well as the immediate form of the dialogue between a disabled person and one who isn't, 'Sprache der Behinderung' also refers to something else: a formal mimicry. The title also alludes to an exhibition by the Austrian conceptual artist Rainer Ganahl who, over the course of a large-scale research project, visited and interviewed people who emigrated from and had been forced to leave Austria during the Nazi period. The title of his project is 'Sprache der Emigration'.
At the peak of the political correctness wave, which hasn't stopped short of politically based art projects, Deutschbauer/Spring appropriate its methods in an act of creative art-mimicry. Not to dismantle this practise, but to intervene with parody "addressing the influence of art for a better understanding" (Deutschbauer/Spring). (patgrz)
(Translation Jonathan Quinn)