Otmar Wagner

Works for Live Art Danmark
2004 “Encyclopedia of Performance Art” at Berliner Luft 1
2005 “Stuff the Holes, Yeah!” at Berliner Luft 2
2012 “Song for Samtalekøkken” and “The Border” at Samtalekøkken
2021 “The Blind Gorilla” for Live Art for Børn at Ålborg Festuge
2021 “TOYS OF JOYLESSNESS or DISTURBANCE & DEBILITY” for Friisland opening and VR-exhibition

Encyclopedia of Performance Art
Otmar founded founded “Wagner/Feigl Forschung und Festspiele” together with Florian Feigl as a platform for their common projects in 1996. IN 2004 they performed their “Encyclopedia of Performance Art” for the first time in Denmark at our first Berliner Luft festival. The Encyclopedia is a potentially limitless project, setting out, as Wagner/Feigl declare, to list each and every material and action ever used in a performance. In a matter-of-fact setting of desks, projectors and grey suits, they produce a lecture conforming to high academic standards. They set out, however, to list every use of guns and shooting in performance art, ever. Wagner and Feigl continue tirelessly, until the lunacy of the project slowly becomes appearant, as we understand that the completion of the encyclodepia, including every action anyone ever performed, and all materials they performed them with, would mean that it lists not only the entire world, but would become equivalent to the world itself. The video below only shows a brief excerpt from this monumental work.

Here is a long article about the project from Florian’s website.

Stuff the Hoels, Yeah!
“Stuff the Holes, Yeah!” was presented at the second Berliner Luft festival in 2005. Otmar and Irene Coticchio collaborate on this musical meditation on the public and the private, the settled versus the nomadic, and the loss of utopia in a post-identical age, symbolically presented by a small model house that is perforated, it is riddled with holes. It represents (if that term is permissible), as Otmar explains in the interview part of the video,  the loss of identity on all levels, that of the physical body, of the traditional home, even of Europe. The continent, the house, the body as well as all their inhabitants are in permanent crisis in this typical Otmar Wagner tour de force.

Song for Samtalekøkken/The Border
For Samtalekøkken in April 2012 he composed and presented his “Song for Samtalekøkken” and the performance “The Border”. The latter is another essay performance in Otmar’s inimitable style. Seven years after “Stuff the Holes” he returns to Copenhagen. No partner on stage, no fancy evening gown, the sound samples fragmented to the brink of reconizability, he once again sets out to lead his stunned audience through half an hour of Wagner-think, including Heidegger quotes, yodeling, a toy border police car, songs about the international economical system, toy monkeys and obscenity. Wonderful.

At the same event he presented his brand new “Song for Samtalekøkken“.

The Blind Gorilla
Otmar contributed with a VR-Video installation to our program for Live Art for Børn at Ålborg Festuge in 2021. Audiences could find (and use!) VR-goggles at three different locations within the large library space of DOKK 1 culture center. Wearing them they would see Otmar, disguised as the Blind Gorilla, engaging in interactions with the library and its users at a different point in time. It can be a disturbing and fascinating experience to discover a goriall prowling the shelves of a public library!

Toys of Joylessness or Disturbance and Debility
Visitors of the opening party for our new project space Friisland in Copenhagen’s up and coming Nordhavn neighbourhood, way our by the sea, got to indulge in some classic Wagner while witnessing the live performance “Toys of Joylessness or Disturbance and Debility”. Some of the elements combined to form the experience were Otmar in underwear, high, heels and a white fur coat, hundreds of meters of cables connecting high and low tech devices distorting sounds of songs he sung in front of a backdrop of an eclectic mix of found video footage ranging from Adorno to Donald Trump.

The same elements were later recorded with our VR camera to provide an alltogether different experience to later visitors to the space. They could spend time alone in an installation created form the remnants of the performance with the virtual aVATAR of the performer.

About the Artist
Otmar Wagner (born 1966) studied at Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft at the University of Giessen/Germany and Object Theatre in Amsterdam/Netherlands. Since 1992 he has worked as an interdisciplinary artist, developing solo projects and in collaboration with performance groups such as “norton.commander.productions”, “toxic dreams” and “Monster Truck”.

Otmar does not seem to use a regular website, but he has this Youtube-Channel with videos of many of his performances. And here is a review of his very first appearance on a Danish stage, with his performance “Inventur Debil” in Kanonhallen in 2001. Vibeke Wern had this to say about the performance in leading Danish newspaper Berlingske (read the Danish original here):

Satirical Wagner
The second event of the evening was also delayed. But German Otmar Wagner’s two hour long performance »Inventur Debil« was worth the wait. With a wonderful humoristic distance, Otmar Wagner covers wide distances in his performance about the utopias of the 20th century. He thematically covers topics of performance, Body Art and Live Art, and with an ironical self-importance lends them a historical perspective.

The stage setting of »Inventur Debil« is designed as a strange mixture of a living room – where people can rest in sofas and deep chairs – and a lecture room, sound studio, lab and a meditative space. »To be authentically and absolutely present in time and space is very important in a performance« says Otmar Wagner in a ironic voice and dials the synthetic Clock Service. The telephone as the miracle of the 20th century, is a central topic of »Inventur Debil«, which, with its paradoxial view of Live Art, also focuses on the physical absence of the body – in the case of eg. phone sex and Mc Luhans communication theories of the global village.

In the beginning, in the role of the extremely politically incorrect reporter from Congo, Otmar Wagner is only present as a live feed on a screen together with the black African Nanu, who tries unsuccesfully to speak into a banana and is introduced as a 2 meter tall pygmy. Most of the time, the goodlooking, masculine Otmar Wagner moves about in the theatre space, going in and out of various roles and changing between direct and indirect speech. And his body becomes physically very present when he finally adorns it with feathers by piercing himself with safety needles.

Bitingly satirical are his intellectual recounts of travel experiences in the far East; here he impales the European cultural imperialism and presents extreme music examples from the japanese pop industry. Overall, the soundscape is a delicate and imaginative part of »Inventur Debil«, eg. when Otmar Wagner takes a magnet tape between his teeth and controls the speed of the sound with his body movements. And he sucks the audience into the theatrical atmosphere by his use of classical fog effects.

In its form, as well as in the political and satirical content, »Inventur Debil« gives associations to the South African Robyn Orlins crazy-performance »Daddy, I’ve seen this piece six times…«. But Otmar Wagner is thematically much more encompassing and he customizes his performance to the occasion by tying in several Danish references in his recommendable performance, that consciously mirrors the Danish image of the ardous German mentality.

Om liveart_dk

Liveart.dk was founded in 2004 in Copenhagen to promote the discussion, documentation and development of live art in Denmark. The organisation is equally inspired by the imaginative and entertaining English Live Art tradition as by the theoretical and political German theatre tradition. We have organised 10 large international festivals of Live Art for kids and adults since 2004, and over 40 discussion events, books, video series, symposia and more in the field of live art, performance art, art criticism and documentation. We collaborate with theatres, music venues, art museums and festivals in Denmark and internationally.