J: You've been giving performances since 1974 - since 1977, you have been calling your work "Disassemblies". What do you actually disassemble in your "Disassemblies"? If somebody disassembles something, it does not necessarily mean that this act involves aggressiveness. But there is definitely a destructive element in your "Disassemblies".
F: There are a few aspects I consider important. These refer a) to
contents and b) to form. As regards contents, the important thing is never what
can be seen or what is being disassembled visibly, but what it stands for, i.
e. a metaphor which refers to the thing behind the surface.
As regards formal structure, I work with polarity in all my disassemblies. The opera, classical song or classical dance are metaphors of an academic conservative, restorative attitude, as I'd put it. Against this, I set an up-to-date attitude towards a contemporary work of art. In my opinion, in our day and age, which is substantially characterized by an incessant flood of stimuli, it is very important to learn how to select, i. e. how to make decisions, qualitative decisions, as to which stimuli should be absorbed and dealt with. I've found that a strong stimulus, the provocative element, when used as a means, will have an effect. I work with this element a lot. I'm not interested in provocation for provocation's sake. But if a provocation is capable of releasing something, if a shock can release something, shake an existing view of the world, set an awareness in motion, or cause irritation, then I've found a starting point or access to somebody. The first step is to change something, and from this point of view, destruction is a very constructive element.
J: Now although you are Austrian by birth, you do not really belong to the Vienna Actionists circles, as in the work of the Vienna Actionists, like Hermann Nitsch, for example, the psychological effect is in the foreground while you prefer a cooler and more sociological approach in your actions.
F: That's right. I'd call myself more of an "ethologist" - in "inverted commas" - in art, for whom the objects of his investigations are not only sociological phenomena but also other ones. My investigations are not ultimately, supposed to point a warning finger. What I'm interested in is to point out the simultaneousness of things or to deal with them; I mean the fact that there is war and torture going on, on the one hand, while a wonderful birthday party might be taking place at the same time. Both have nothing directly to do with the other, but in a wider context they have, because the cycle of life and death is a closed circuit - I see the art system in a similar way. How much of an effect can art still have on society today, or to what extent has it become a blind alley that you can enter but not leave again because it has detached itself from society and does not have any feedback any more.
J: Can you give us a short description of your work in Linz. Is it also a disassembly?
F: Yes, it's called "Disassembly XI" and it will be the last work to be presented during this year's Ars Electronica. I will go into the context again quite explicitly. It is a disassembly, with the same structure as the others. The opera singer will play a part assigned to her again. The piece will take place in the concert hall of the Brucknerhaus, which is one of the halls with the best acoustics in the world und can accommodate several thousand people. The whole hall is dominated by a giant organ, so this will be integrated into the work, too, coupled with the opera singer. Do you want to know more details? The question is, should I describe it in detail or circumscribe it, so-as-to-speak.
J: Circumscribe it.
F: The context is the hall itself, on the one hand, and, of course, the festival on the other hand, as it deals with electronics, having acquired a history of its own in the meantime. This will play a part in my work. Practically, I will deal with things that bring electronics or pictoral media, which are the video display units or television screens of computer screens. These are the things I will deal with, and the human body will also play a part again.