Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Death and Non-NeoFuturism

A couple people have mentioned that there is something about the Chaos of Death project that is not particularly NeoFuturist. Near as I can tell, I am the only member of the collective who has never been in a NeoFuturist production (unless you count that one time I was brought on stage to take a citizenship test during TML), so I may not have the most honed NF-dar. Still, I had this vague sense that death loomed large in non-NeoFuturism (i.e, the Italian variety). That might be worth a look, right? I figured, why not check it out.

FT Marinetti and Friends

Mostly these feeling I had came from this story stuck in my head, though I think may be apocryphal. The story was relayed to me by a friend who was astounded by the lengths that Italian futurists would go to show that art had to be violent. He swore certain Italian futurist performances would heighten the energy and danger of shows by playing Russian roulette. I couldn’t find anything to corroborate this story, but the trope of death certainly had a big role in the movement's charter.

The terms of the Manifesto of Futurism itself is in the form of a first will and testament. This is an interesting inversion as compared to the usual last wills and testaments of the dying. I think that it might be interpreted that Marinetti and the Founders of Futurism have killed off their former selves and have been born anew. In the Manifesto, Marinetti goes on a drive that leads to his Futurist epiphany, but upon first reaching the car he describes himself as being “like a corpse on a bier.” Marinetti's former self dies and leaves behind a world of dead souls making dead art. He is reborn to see the world's first sunrise.

Futher, Marinetti invokes death to specifically critique the state of art and Italian society at large:

"Museums, cemeteries! Truly identical in their sinister juxtaposition of bodies that do not know each other. Public dormitories where you sleep side by side for ever with beings you hate or do not know. Reciprocal ferocity of the painters and sculptors who murder each other in the same museum with blows of line and color. To make a visit once a year, as one goes to see the graves of our dead once a year, that we could allow! We can even imagine placing flowers once a year at the feet of the Gioconda! But to take our sadness, our fragile courage and our anxiety to the museum every day, that we cannot admit! Do you want to poison yourselves? Do you want to rot?"

OK, given that Marinetti condemned museum-going as, at best, "solace for the ills of the moribund, the sickly, the prisoner," he may not have been to keen on our focus on texts, archives, and artifacts. Still, if fear is going to be a fundamental component in several of our planned performances, I think we can make kinship claim (if that really mattered). We death fools inhabiting the Fucked Up Island might just be a bastard children of those Futurists after all.

1 comment:

John R. Pierson said...

"We feel deep disgust for contemporary theater because it oscillates stupidly between historical reconstruction and the photographic reproduction of our day-to-day life: niggling, slow, analytical and diluted theatre worthy at most of the age of oil lamps... "It is not necessary to be understood... We bravely create the 'ugly' in literature and murder the solemn on all sides"

- Marinetti (Futurist Founder)

Stage directions in a Futurist show:
"A wild-looking young philosopher of the Berlin type paces up and down the stage holding a revolver in his right hand and a copy of the Berliner Tageblatt in his left. 'Ah, doubt...uncertainty...and here today in 1915 I do not know whether, after my breakfast as usual, to read the Berliner Tageblatt or put a bullet though my head' (bored and indifferent, he looks from left to right hand, raising first the newspaper and then the revolver) 'Oh well, the bullet will do' (shoots and falls dead)."
- Corra and Settimelli (Futurists)