Berlin’s cultural scene: stop collective exhibitionism! – Culture

The buzz around Lars Eidinger seems to have no limits. Because he raves about his ego not only in the theater and on stage on social media and behind the DJ booth, but recently also in front of the homeless with his own brand Aldi-design bag. Because he likes to reveal details about his penis, and yet, or maybe thanks to this, he is even more popular on Instagram. This week he premieres at the Schaubühne as a solo performance by Peer Gynt and can be seen in two films at the Berlinale.

Eidinger’s colleague Mark Waschke also discovered the potential for “manic self-denial,” which Eidinger himself confirms. As a metaware, he introduced the monologue “I am the next, we are not a whistle” to the stage last year. In it, she undresses, sings, talks about her teenage daughter, her love life, her love life and calls her ex-wife life. By silencing her voice, he gives absolute proof: This is all me. And it is real. It is authentic.

But the mania of rigorous authenticity is not a phenomenon of the Berlin Schaubühne. It can also be found in modern literature, television series, and social media. Lena Dunham, producer and director of the American-American series “Girls” and author of the autobiography “Not That Kind of Girl”, negotiates nothing but her mental and sexual accidents, panic attacks, and eating disorders.

The constant oscillation between chaos and order

This is their success. It offers unwavering, raw realism and was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Times Magazine in 2013. The Berliner girls Anna Gien and Marlene Stark, who in 2019 together published the autofictional novel “M”, come from a similar literary niche. The story of a restless, frustrated artist settling accounts with the Berlin art scene is also a closer look at everyday, primarily sexual, details.

Berlin is a unique breeding ground of this format. Already in the golden twenties, the capital was treated as a cosmopolitan city due to the diffuse chaos and lack of intimacy. Today, Berlin is gaining international attention again for similar reasons. Those who identify as Berliners (by choice) in other metropolises receive in return a murmur of approval and a song of praise for Berghain, Berlin’s art scene and anti-aesthetics: that is, grotesque, absurd, bizarre and sees himself as opposed to the ordinary. It’s the courage to show your face instead of a smile.

But what actually makes Berlin so attractive today, and what does Lars Eidinger have to do with it? Berlin’s uniqueness can best be described as a constant oscillation between chaos and order. This is reflected in the feeling that nothing is ever really finished here. But also in a wide variety of subcultures and niches.

A mecca for postmodern bohemia

Due to its loose structures and norms, there can be a high degree of individual freedom, making Berlin a mecca for postmodern bohemia, all those tech-savvy young people who go through life with irony and Macbooks. Postmodernism was characterized by the disintegration of indicative social norms and structures and growing individualism.

Raw, raw, extravagant and sexy, Berlin invites you to hyper-individualism, which can often be accused of narcissism. This is where Lars Eidinger and Co. come into play. Thanks to the gesture “I do what I’m in the mood”, they fit the style that feels at home in Berlin. As self-proclaimed outsiders, they strip naked. With their radical exposure they break the supposedly last taboo, our shame, and are very well received.

But in the general competition for attention, only the cracks are of interest, not the smooth facade. At this point, it doesn’t matter if it’s strategic marketing or self-centered attention-grabbing. One conditionally affects the other. We live in a society that requires individuality and its proof. And this forces you to show your own uniqueness.

Excessive exhibitionism becomes compulsive

After all, no area of ​​life celebrates originality and individuality as much as the art system. However, exposing yourself as a ruined artistic genius is not a successful response to the signs of the times. Even if the self-portrait is a mass phenomenon in our society. Artistic reference to one another tilts at some point. Excessive exhibitionism becomes compulsive and does not seem avant-garde, but rancid, it collapses in itself and reveals a gaping void, self-centeredness and arbitrariness.

More grateful would be art that can not only spit current social phenomena at our feet in a harsh and exaggerated way, but also think about collective narcissism. This does not necessarily result in cultural criticism and exclude any play in itself. Rather, it would be a type of art that succeeds in using, showing and reflecting on these techniques – making the dichotomy transparent, rather than letting it storm over everyone involved.

This artist genre exists. These are films by Arthur Jaffa and Khalil Joseph, videos by Ed Atkins. Everyone can do without their own pathologization, and at the same time artistically negotiate unusual social analyzes in their works. It’s more subtle, more inventive, and doesn’t saturate that quickly.

Discretion towards own pathologies

A good literary example is Annie Ernaux, who in her autofictional short story Summer makes an insightful, meaningful observation of her generation and liberation in ’68. Through the wealth of detail and listing events, it allows the reader to see with his own eyes how old social imperatives are replaced by new ones. Photographer Wolfgang Tilmanns also works with hard realism and documentary, but manages to contain his ego.

Or Anne Imhof: in her performances she shows a lost, lethargic generation between intoxication and smartphones, subtly and overwhelmingly showing power structures and making them tangible. As a viewer you are confused, overwhelmed, amazed, and then you may not be able to put into words what is bothering and driving this generation, but you felt it for a short while.

René Pollesch should definitely be mentioned as an example from the world of theater. The future director of the Berlin Volksbühne is currently shining with a performance at the Deutsches Theater. In the song “Life on Earth May Be Sweet Donna”, Pollesch humorously calls for epic theater and discretion in relation to his own pathologies. It boils down to the point: a little discretion please.

More quality and less shitstorm

Not because art should get used to it again. Not that certain things should be kept secret or are not appropriate on the stage, on social media, or in the literature. Not because we want to go back to the fitted, smooth, nondescript faces of famous actors or women. It is about discretion in its original meaning: as an art and a gift of wise discrimination that avoids too much and too little and seeks the right balance.

It is courage to a deliberate distance. It is about observation and representation that allows you to stay away from your ego and also from exaggerated political allusions. Describe things coolly from the outside, instead of being empathetically drawn into them.

A little discretion would mean better quality and less stormy weather. Not only would Berlin then have to be a city of postmodern instagram narcissists, but it could also use the oscillation between order and chaos for a bold, heterogeneous, open and experimental scene that doesn’t exhaust itself in empty templates. It would be a win for everyone.

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