Why Pope Francis? What interests you in him?
Over the course of the last four years, the new head of the Catholic Church has become not only a social media phenomenon, but also a container for all kinds of projections: Apart from being a spiritual leader, he is also a politician, he seems to have replaced Obama as new hope of the left, is described as the voice of the young generation, of globalization critics and environmentalists and, since last year, has even been made into an ambassador and spokesman for the European idea. And it doesn’t stop there…
What was the most surprising thing that you found out during your research?
World World War III has already started, says Francis. We just haven’t all grasped it yet.
About your “Iconic Rhetorics” series: First Obama, then Lady Di, and now the Pope: Are there similarities between these figures?
They are The People's President, The People's Princess and The People's Pope. Together they form some kind of People’s Trinity. They represent the idea of being “like us", speaking the language of “the people”, being genuine and believable, down-to-earth. At the same time, they are members and representatives of the elite. This contradiction is interesting and probably also essentially human.
Were there any reactions from the White House about your Obama show?
None. First we were worried about copyright infringement with the Obama text, but then we found out that the speeches of the American presidents are in the public domain. They can also be made into songs or, as in our case, a performance. In 2014, the work was invited to New York and Cincinnati, but the required work visa was denied by the US authorities because the performance was not deemed “culturally unique”. We received a five page denial letter stating that “being talented, skilled, unique and proficient is not sufficient”. Finally, in order to still be able to perform, we had to travel as tourists and work on a donation basis, which we did. Anyways, Obama had other things to do. I imagine he would appreciate the show actually. I suppose he has enough self-distance not to feel offended by it. The next opportunity for him to watch the performance will be in Norway, where he held his famous Nobel Peace Prize Lecture.
Any plans of going to the Vatican? Any requests?
If it is true that all paths lead to Rome…but no, we have not received requests from the Vatican. If Pope Francis needs a break from his job, he is of course welcome to watch our show. Just as in the film "Habemus Papam" by Nanni Moretti, where a desperate Pope (Michel Piccoli) seeks refuge in a theater.
Is the series "Iconic Rhetorics" now completed or do you have someone else in mind?
We haven’t decided yet if there will be a continuation of the series. For now, Pontifex is born and we are happy about it. Sometimes when people ask us, "Who's next?" we talk about Hello Kitty. A figure without a mouth. The perfect projection surface. We also get suggestions from people, only in the last month three different people have pointed out we should work on Elon Musk.
What can the audience expect with Pontifex?
A flaming speech about Europe. A concert. A utopia. Naked skin.