They are represented in all major publications of recent years, they always have attended and still attend international exhibitions (from video, movies all the way to furniture and design), their „media synthetic programmes“ can be seen from Cologne, Hamburg, Amsterdam to Paris and New York. GRAF+ZYX are avant-garde in Austria – misunderstood and highly acclaimed – major proponents of an artistic video scene.
For the Vienna dance theatre’s production (Tanztheater Wien) of „Bananadrama“ for the Theatre of youth (Theater der Jugend), they designed the set – the first work only for children. Inge GRAF+ZYX worked with children from difficult backgrounds and studied art at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, he studied Indian music in Italy – both always have had a passion for theatre.
Through the filmmaker Franz Ebner GRAF+ZYX became acquainted with Liz King and the Vienna dance theatre; this developed into a co-operation that would last for many years. First projects in 1981 to 1983, then again 1988 (the production „Pavillon“ in the Künstlerhaus), and 1989 „Banandrama“. For them there exists no antagonism between child and adult.
GRAF+ZYX: We do what we think we have to do and what we are capable of doing, we do not cater to a specific age group. Whether we work for children or adults does not make a difference.
Did they maybe have to adjust specifically for working for a juvenile audience?
GRAF+ZYX: We believe that it is a mistake to address children in a specific manner instead of simply considering them as humans. Children embrace everything, even, after some time, unfamiliar things – they know very well how to handle these. Children themselves are – if they are not being spoiled, curbed or messed up by their parents or school – astonishingly smart and receptive and capable to process anything they are confronted with. If we do not force them to become tense and inhibited they are indeed capable to form an opinion, even regarding complex matters. For the most part, this opinion proved itself correct.
It is, however, the family where miseducation begins already at a very young age. Parents are not prepared for parenthood. They are completely untrained and untutored and with this background they stumble into parenthood. At this point the „messing up“ starts: through restriction and regulation – out of ignorance and especially out of fear. Parenthood is a very demanding educational challenge.
Concerning political sciences:
GRAF+ZYX: In fact, the claimed political message in reality only serves to propel oneself into a better social situation. I worked with socially disadvantaged children and dealt with political science on the same day. That is when you realize: theory and practice are incompatible with each other. It is only possible to act politically if you work politically. If you want to change things politically, you have to work as a politician. It is not possible to achieve change via a second or third level of encryption – and that means it is not possible via theatre. It is essential to tackle the problem directly. You need to go into it. It does not help, if I for example make a movie, or perform something, whatever it is. A political title does not change the world.
[translated by Simone von der Geest]