About wasting oneself to art, love & life
Who is LARS EIDINGER? Probably the most popular villain of German television, actor, photographer, DJ - together the omnipresent devotion. Starting on the 9th of February, his photos will be displayed in Vienna's ALBA GALLERY, Eidinger himself can soon be seen in a Netflix movie by NOAH BAUMBACH. We talk about bats, evil, SELF-DESTRUCTION and about Eidinger.
For me, you, as an actor, are the embodiment of waste for the sake of art. Can you relate to this?
Waste would be the wrong expression. I associate it rather with resources running on empty, when something is wasted unnecessarily.
That’s the negative side, but there is also a positive kind of waste.
Yes, for example, wasting yourself on love, a stage character, or the arts!
Strange, for me the word has an incredibly negative connotation; “waste” always makes me think of something that is a real shame to lose. Art is inexhaustible. You cannot waste it.
Waste is also an expenditure of sorts. A form of “spending” or “giving”. People want to give so that they feel human, above and beyond our banal biology!
Many people accuse me of being too omnipresent as an artist. My feeling is quite the contrary, that I would like to show much, much more – give more, so to say, but I don’t find the space for it. But I don’t consider myself a driven or manic person. I would say I pursue my profession with passion and devotion.
“Many people accuse me of being too omnipresent as an artist.”
Devotion! Again a form of “giving”…
Everything I do is driven by an unmitigated interest in a discourse, and nothing else. It is not a longing for admiration; I used to misunderstand myself in this matter in the past. The longer I practice my profession, the more I notice that for me it’s really about coming to understand something. And when I sit on the rehearsal stage in Salzburg as the Everyman character together with 20 other people, and we talk about the piece, examine its contents, it is utmost satisfaction for me. Then I don’t care if someone finds the production good or bad afterward.
When you play an evil Nazi in the film “Persian Lessons”, a slimy boss in David Schalko’s latest television series “Me and the Others”, Hamlet in the theatre, or portray a frantically bouncing Rumpelstiltskin or a living brush in Deichkind’s music videos, one gets the impression you are always giving everything?!
What I do is not well-measured, and maybe I might even annoy people with my extreme output. I totally refuse careerist pursuits, and I don’t consciously play hard-to-get as an artist because that would mean having an agenda, an artificial reluctance. Also, I just can’t pull it off, I simply can’t do it.
The positive waste escapes the capitalist cost-benefit principle – it has no tactic, no goal, doesn’t strive for profit.
Then maybe you are right with waste.
“You don’t eat a bat.”
We are sitting here in the idyllic city of Salzburg. The sun is shining, tourists are roaming the streets as always. Soon you will play Everyman, of all things, in front of an audience. Everything back to normal now?
I definitely don’t join the ranks of those who want to return to normality now, as it implies that the pandemic was born from normality – but the opposite is true. We must realize that our consumer society stands for a completely perverted form of consumerism. If it’s even true, I find the image of someone eating a bat and triggering the pandemic a great picture for all the madness.
…because the bat is such a primordial creature?
Yes, I like that the bat is a wild, non-domesticated, and nocturnal animal that hangs around with its head upside down…
…hence, it does everything humans find uncanny!
You don’t eat a bat, just like we should not eat any animals at all. When you hear now that this is our bill to pay for raping nature for decades, you actually wonder that it only happened now. Nature has always defended itself through plagues, it’s just humans who do not acknowledge these signs as a direct consequence of their behavior. On the contrary, they harp on: “Let’s go back to normal.”
“Suddenly, it worked.”
What can the bat teach us?
Why do we even make a distinction between “us” and “nature”? Why do we always say: We need nature, but nature doesn’t need us? I would go a step further and say: We are nature! One could only have wished that a Greta Thunberg – who I really respect over everything – would have had a similar impact like corona. What she demanded, that factories are shut down, airports are closed, only just happened now thanks to the pandemic. The whole economic system, which people said you can’t shut down because it would bankrupt entire sectors – suddenly, it worked.
Everyman is not a diabolical seducer or charismatic rock star, who shuns all conventions and fascinates us for that reason. He’s so painfully normal in his evil nature, and moreover he shrewdly tries to justify his filthy behavior…
As Bertolt Brecht would say: The system is a seesaw with two ends that depend on each other. Those on top are only on top because the others are below, and there has to be more below, otherwise the seesaw is out of balance. Those on top shout down: “Come on up so that we are all up here!” But that doesn’t work because then the seesaw would balance out. Nobody is willing to give up their privileges, like Everyman. If we were to share our property equitably, we would all be on the same level but considerably further below. Are we ready for that?
On stage you speak the most beautiful verses that have ever been written in the world. And you are the medium for them all. Does one become wiser with time?
Yeah, maybe (laughs). These wonderful texts are told time and again, passed on from generation to generation, because geniuses like Shakespeare, Ibsen, Brecht, and Hofmannsthal identified something and put it to paper, something intrinsic to human nature, a conflict we cannot surmount.
“Humans essentially want to destroy themselves. I find that hard to bear.”
It’s always the same misery! Reason for despair?
Certainly. But humans cannot transcend themselves. If you look at all these debates at the moment, whether it’s #MeToo or disputes about racism and feminism, it is always about the others. No one asks themselves: “How much xenophobia, misogyny, and evil are actually within me?” Humans essentially want to destroy themselves. I find that hard to bear. I know it from myself, too. It’s nothing that is foreign to me, motivated by a self-hatred.
It is also an incredible desire to destroy and be evil! Even when no one would admit it.
Recently I read that Yoko Ono proposed a self-experiment: to not speak badly about someone else for two minutes, then five minutes, then a day, and then for a week. I couldn’t keep it up even for two minutes.
“You knew all of that, and why didn’t you revolt?”
What is your biggest sin?
One of the Deadly Sins, perhaps. I have the feeling that I am constantly sinning under the moral criteria and values of the Church. That’s what I try to figure out in my life plan, how much I should follow my own impulses or rather bow to a social norm. I think the purpose these norms serve is all too obvious, I want to liberate myself from them.
That’s also my point of view, one of the elementary questions in life!
There is this great quote by Brecht: “Contradictions are our hope!” Harmony makes you incredibly lethargic, it is not creative. Conventions often force you to lie, whereas a truth resides in contradictions.
The German action artist John Bock, with whom you made Peer Gynt at the Schaubühne in Berlin, once said: “Lars Eidinger is his own opposite.” Who is Lars Eidinger then?
Recently a photographer said to me: “Just be yourself.” I really had to laugh.