Moby Dick – The Quest for the Austrian Whale

 

 

Moby Dick – The Quest for the Austrian Whale

 

In summer 2017, 7 members of the performance group toxic dreams toured the wilderness of Austria in search for the Austrian Whale. The political, the cultural, the geographical, the sociological, the economical, and the peculiar whale.

Their journey took them through the whole 8 counties. (Vienna, the ninth one, was done separately.) They traveled from one geographical middle point to another, celebrating both the local human and nature landscape of each particular county.

They pretended to be sailors of the Austrian sea, although in all actuality they traveled in an RV, documenting along the way their findings.

They did white water rafting, they joined a literary festival, they sang to a random cattle on the road, they made cheese, they danced the hula around the Upper Austria middle point monument, they visited the Austrian space agency (yes, there is one), they performed theatrical scenes in a forest for no one in particular, they joined the circus for around an hour.

Short side note. To aid them, in the search for the Austrian Whale, they used the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville. It is a book about everything. Every aspect of life reflected in the bizarre mosaic of this book. The whale is likened to everything under the sun, and everything under the moon, too – a portly burgher, an ottoman, a book, a language, a script, a nation, the Sphinx, the pyramids. The whale is also Satan and God. The whale is “inscrutable.” It is full of meanings that it threatens to have no meanings at all.

So, did they hunt the Austrian Moby Dick? Or, were they left with a journey full of meanings that it threatens to have no meanings at all?

In Moby Dick – The Quest for the Austrian Whale they will share their findings. They will disclose to the Austrian public who, or what, is the Austrian whale. And what can be better than inviting the audience to sail together, onboard of a rented ship, along the Danube. The evening will be a mix media presentation incorporating visual art, video art, archive documents, photos and live performances. The evening should have the feeling of an open and chaotic market place, the market of ideas, the market of Austria minus the sea. It should be an evening of celebration, of coming together. An evening of a journey through Austria, the home as a site for wayward adult and adolescent fantasies.

Moby Dick – The Quest for the Austrian Whale is more like a circus than an ordinary performance. The ship will turn into a traveling encyclopaedia, the Austrian encyclopaedia of sort. The evening should look like a joyful act of performative prestidigitation. The audience will be taken into a rollercoaster ride in a clear attempt of creating a celebration of spectacle. Despite the fact that we traveled from one geographical middle point to another the evening should not have an easily recognisable, visible centre. It is a trip through images, text, thoughts, memories. It is rather a succession of mostly comic commentaries on Austria and Austrians. And it is in the end a short journey with the public in search of this elusive whale called Austria.

 

The setting

As a point of departure the audience will be treated as travellers, be it on a real ship or on a mockup one. The goal is to create a setting, a gravitational field of cross-genre aesthetic practices and social relevance. We will design a spectacle that is at once a picture space and stage set, a room for experience and assembly, a multi-story environment of powerful imagery lending expression and meaning to the quotidian and the world of yesterday and today as it oscillates between apparent normalcy and catastrophe. Like the idea of a ship that had been tossed on a stormy seas and now is returning to a safer harbour.

The audience will move through a series of rooms, some real ones, part of the structure, other imaginary ones, set rooms, made up spaces. The idea is to build a sequence of spaces or images that will result in creating an overall narrative effect. The ‘travellers’ experiencing the space as a simultaneous co-producer of the stories by connection the various narratives presented to them.

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