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Peter Greenaway, Robert Jelinek, Der Konterfei

PETER GREENAWAY - I'm always accused of disagreeing with what I said last week

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In our lives we usually only ever recognize truth through veils, shrouds, and shadows, as Plato described in his allegory of the cave. More than two millennia later, Martin Heidegger also postulated, “At first, truth is that which is wrested from concealment”. For Peter Greenaway as well, the process of finding truth aims not least at getting to the bottom of a hidden matter by clearing it from the detritus and silt of the torrential current of life. Viewed from this perspective, truth is never a static (e)state, but rather an occurrence of disclosure, an event of liberation – just as how art also remembers, reveals, liberates, and helps us to recognize the essential. Peter Greenaway is neither a film-maker, nor a painter, but rather a conceptual artist who feels obliged to painting and pushes his chosen medium to its limits, thereby permitting us new means of perception and insight. He remains consistently true to this obligation in his films, exhibitions, operas, books, and interviews. His deep and continuous exploration of the filmic medium has led to the creation of incredibly rich images, strongly influenced by Renaissance and Flemish painting and architecture, images which probe the boundaries of provocative eroticism, sexual lust, murder, and death. In Greenaway's oeuvre the limits of the artwork are dissolved in, as it were, a mesh of quotations. He invariably emphasises that it is not the plot of the film that is important, but the semiotic putting-into-the-work of a taxonomic structure. He follows the aesthetic insight that art should not be confused with art, but rather that art is an artificial play with symbolic functions that time and again refer back to art. With Greenaway everything is out in the open. There is a riddle, but no secret. Because this is Greenaway's particular passion, he condenses the film score to a high degree as impetus and organiser in time, and the music of Michael Nyman has served not as emotive commentary, but as an integral structural element in their joint works. Thence results a kind of rule of media history according to which a medium can achieve aesthetically and intellectually relevant application precisely because, and perhaps only when, its “natural” functioning is interrupted by and intersects with the forms of its own pre-history. And that which pertains to the medium and its applications also applies to Greenaway's own life-current along with his artistic consistency. According to his account, he plans to thwart his “natural” functioning through his voluntary death at the age of eighty years old and thereby place himself within the cycle of his own topics and principles. This personal announcement sets Greenaway's oeuvre in yet another light and provides an artistic fuse for new riddles which were elicited from him in the present volume.

DER KONTERFEI 048 / Paperback / English / 60 pages / Limited Edition of 300 / ISBN 978-3-903043-37-4 / April 2019


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