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Katie Wagner: Bayreuth does not play around with swastikas

The queen of B has been put under tough questioning by Die Welt about her choice of Jonathan Meese to direct Parsifal in 2016. Meese has been known to use Nazi symbols in his productions.

‘He examines our history critically, even cynically,’ explains Katie. (Meese setzt sie ironisch und auch zynisch ein, um eine Haltung, um unsere Geschichte kritisch anzuprangern.)

Does it say in the contratc that he can’t put a swastika on the Bayreuth stage?

‘Of course, not. We don’t have a contact yet. But we have an verbal understanding.’ (Natürlich nicht, es gibt auch noch keinen Vertrag, sondern eine feste mündliche Zusicherung, die wir mit Einverständnis des Künstlers veröffentlich haben). Anyway, I never interfere in the affairs of my director colleagues. (Ich mische mich nicht in die Belange meiner Intendantenkollegen ein.)

There’s much more of this here, along with further obfuscation of the Nikitin affair.


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  1. Kundry's Therapist says:

    Herheim’s Parsifal, which has been playing at Beyreuth since 2008, and was widely televised across Germany today, features swastika banners….

  2. George Jackson says:

    Bu the current Parsifal in Bayeruth, which I have just seen, does EXACTLY that!

  3. There are many swastikas as well as other Nazi symbols onstage in the Stefan Herheim production of Parsifal. This is in line with the German criminal code that outlaws the use of “symbols of unconstitutional organizations” (e.g., the swastika) except in cases of art, education or historical study.

    So Katharina’s statement is entirely consistent with German law and the accepted practice in the German arts establishment: that is, Meese’s use of the swastika is clearly intended as commentary, not as any sort of promotion of Fascist ideology. It’s the latter that the law is aimed at suppressing.

    The problem (among others) with Nikitin is that his tattoos do not seem to be intended as the sort of artistic expression protected under the law. (It would be different, I suppose, if he were a performance artist whose body art was an essential part of his performance.)

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