In the summer of 1927, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (EvFL) pens a letter to Peggy Guggenheim looking to secure funding for a projected studio for experimental modeling in Paris. This exposé of her artistic practice, occasioned by dire need for money, unleashes one of the most intense pieces of gnostic autofiction and demonology to be encountered in the archives of paramodern heresies. So much can be deciphered from her 34 pages of ‘metaphysical flim-flam’ and gory spiritual terrorism:
She, who dedicated her life to pleasure without constraint and the pursuit of ‘sexenergy’, has died. Resurrected as they, the artist rebuilds their past experiences poetically through daring spiritual experimentation. Ghost among ghosts, exposed to an undead society that recycles the mortified masks of Old Europe, EvFL proposes to re-model, refine and vivify those forms. If Guggenheim invests, or so her pitch goes, she would benefit from privileged access to her prophecies of future: a new eschatological age of a glamorous human race in which ‘the technical masters of the illustrious period of the elite time’ kill everything useless.
The patroness seems to have been amused by the letter. She had a typescript made for her collection, but she didn’t pay. EvFL suicided shortly after.
Conceived as a long-term research project on the spiritual implications of artistic experiments and the therapeutic use value of excessive phantasies, THEODRAMATIK explores the idiosyncratic tissue of EvFL’s late poetics in which post-capitalist science fiction meets gnostic demonology and linguistic ecstasies are launched as break out attempts of a prison-like world. Thus far, the following phases of the project have been carried out:
I. Archival research, University of Maryland, supported by a residency at PACT Zollverein, Essen, September/October 2022.
II. Performative readings and drafts, with Kate Strong, as part of a residency at Fleetstreet Theater, Hamburg, January 2023. Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste, Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, Rudolf Augstein Stiftung.
III. Choreographic and somatic research, with Martina De Dominicis, July–October 2023, supported by Udo Keller Stiftung Forum Humanum.
IV. YOUR TRUEST, MOST PROMISING QUALITY ABOUT YOURSELF IS YOUR ADORATION FOR ME – IF YOU CAN KEEP IT, video trailer, 3:22 min, Galerie für Landschaftskunst Halle Süd, Bad Tölz, 2023. Starring Martina de Dominicis, developed with Studio CNP, contributions by Joy Ahoulou, Achinoam Alon, Stanislav Iordanov. Supported by Verband Freie Darstellende Künste Bayern.
V. RADICAL GESTURES, Seminar at HfG Karlsruhe, winter semester 2023/24.
VI. LETTER TO PEGGY GUGGENHEIM, publication, 2024.