heroic [work] - The New Human Being

Root Event

4. Werkleitz Biennale real[work]

Parent Event

heroic [work] - The New Human Being
7. 7. 2000
D 2000

heroic [work] -The New Human Being
Marcel Schwierin

The glass architecture is bringing about the European spiritual revolution, making out of a limited, vain creature of habit an alert, brilliant, fine and tender person.
Hermann Finsterlin

The idea of the New Human Being was decisive for the whole modern age; in the hope of being in the position to fundamentally transform himself, if the conditions of his life changed accordingly. This project was put most radically into practice in the Soviet Union, which was considered to be the model, which, in being so successful, could serve as an example for all countries. A central element of this enormous transformation, in accordance with Marxist theory, was labour. The result was ultimately, however, not the New Human Being, but rather his caricature, the Homo Sovieticus.

The tractor was perhaps the most meaningful symbol of progress in the Soviet film propaganda; it was supposed to heave the agrarian country of the Czar into the 20th century; it guaranteed the conquering of the terrible famines. “Tractora” underlays discovered propaganda material with a fictitious off-screen voiceover, which intensifies to an orgiastic hymn to the fetishistic machine; the rationalist-technocratic vision of mankind is expelled back to its instinctive structure.

Vladimir Tyulkin’s Film “Lord of the Flies” belongs to the literary tradition of Jules Vernes’ tale “Two Years Holidays”, in which he describes schoolboys who bring into being a rationality-based, ideal world after being stranded from a shipwreck. William Golding’s story, “Lord of the Flies” from 1954 takes up the motif of the stranded children, but sketches far more realistically, the development of a despotism in miniature format.

The figure of the fly killer in Tyulkin’s film possesses many aspects: as the post-communist version of the hippie dropout, he symbolises the improvised gardening at a datscha, a way in which many Soviet citizens ensured their survival after perestroika at a primitive level. He sways back and forth between the caricature of new entrepreneurship - after all, he has managed to construct an own economic circulation on his land - and the incarnation of the last Stalinists, who are still obsessed with ridding the world of their enemies. Flies have, furthermore, a long tradition in Soviet iconography: their larvae in canteen meat are the trigger of the revolution in “Panzerkreuzer Potemkin”, symbolic of the rotten system of the Czar, a metaphor for the later, no less degenerated Soviet system, described in the works of Ilya Kabakov. At the same time flies have always been seen as a worthless life form because of the sheer masses in which they appear and because of their short lifespan, which refers to the Gulag in its purposeful annihilation, but also refers to their ideal disposition as material for scientific experiments, just as the Soviet person in the socialist experiment. The film achieves a particular topicality not only due to the war in Chechna with its undisguised purge terminology, but also of genetic technology, which began with flies and is now being advanced to human beings (Craig Venter is, since his decoding of the drosophila-genom also termed “the Lord of theFlies”). And, it is actually so, that the notion of the New Human Being is enjoying its resurrection through genetic technology.

Hermann Finsterlin, 1920 (Korrespondenz der Gläsernen Kette

Text von

Marcel Schwierin