The Interview between Identity and Performance: A Case Study – Heiner Müller – The “Artist of the Interview”

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Benedetta Bronzini, Università degli Studi di Firenze/ Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität Bonn


    The aim of this presentation is to analyze the role and identity of the contemporary artist in the specific context of the interview through the example of the series of 22 video-interviews between the so called “Artist of the Interview”, the GDR-dramatist Heiner Müller (1929-1995), and the German director and producer Alexander Kluge (1932), released between 1988 and 1995. The genre of the interview, where facts and fiction often coexist and are not easy to be distinguished, is very ambiguous in itself. In the specific case of the “author interview”, and even more the video-interview, that sees an artist as interviewee, the threshold between reality and performance, private person and persona, is even more subtle and undefined. The video-interview is a combination of esthetical aspects, as the setting, the pace and language used by the two speakers, the habitus, to say it with Bourdieu, and, on the other hand, contents. All these aspects are put on the same level of relevance, and sometimes the subject and the context of the interview are even more important than the object. The Müller-Kluge video-interviews, the only situation in which Müller answered to private questions in public, offer us a very interesting case of study concerning the identity of the artist between private subject and persona. In front of Alexander Kluge, Müller, always dressed in black and inseparable from his whisky and his cigar, a clear homage to Bertolt Brecht, examines his works, his family, the recent past of Germany through his own remembrances, the end of the GDR and of his public role, and, at last, his own experience with cancer, being at the same time a performer, an historical document and a private person. Part of the Müller-Kluge interviews were performed in plays by Christoph Schlingensief, Oliver Frljić and Futur Konjunktiv II.