The aim of this conference is to explore Christoph Schlingensief’s participatory art project Opera Village Africa against the backdrop of Richard Wagner’s idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk. We wish to approach this topic from the perspective of multiple disciplines including anthropology, art history, cultural studies, history, musicology, philosophy, postcolonial studies and theatre studies.
Invited speakers include Marlene Rutzendorfer. Her talk will introduce 'The Opera Village', Christoph Schlingensief´s (1960-2010) last project. Schlingensief convinced the architect Diébédo Francis Kéré to join him in planning the unusual project that aims at building a communication platform for Burkinabè and European art and society. Together they have developed what is now being realized under the direction of Aino Laberenz, Schlingensief´s widow. Evoking connotations with the European idea of „opera“, the project aims at dissolving boundaries between art and life in what Schlingensief related to the Beuysian idea of the “social sculpture”.
Marlene Rutzendorfer is a curator and architect living and working in Vienna. She studied in Vienna and Paris and is currently holding a Junior Fellowship at IFK, International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna. In her PhD under the working title „Unsere Oper ist ein Dorf ist eine Soziale Skulptur“ (Our Opera is a Village is a Social Sculpture), she is doing research on Francis Kéré´s architecture and the local context of the Opera Village in Burkina Faso. In 2014 she participated in a building workshop led by Francis Kéré for USI Mendrisio in Gando and held a creative workshop with the kids at the Opera Village primary school.