Evviva il coltello! (Es Lebe das Messer!) (Long Live the Knife!)

Ines Doujak

Klagenfurt, Austria, 1959
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Metal, fabric, paper and snakeskin
  • Descriptive technique: 
    A selection of stage elements made up of a video projected onto a snakeskin book, a suit with a mask on an embossed metal web, an audio recording and two folded leaflets, which can activate a performance
  • Dimensions: 
    Part 01: 78 x 57,5 x 8 cm / Part 02: 180 x 43 x 41 cm / Part 03: 75 x 30 cm / Part 04: 74 x 32 x 25 cm
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The title of the piece is a reference to the words of admiration shouted by the audience in the opera after hearing the aria of a castrato — a male singer castrated in boyhood to retain a high-pitched voice — a spectacle to the liking of the European courts in the colonial period, in the time frame stretching between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The attire exhibited, abundantly woven with a fabric and tone recalling at once religious bodies and today’s queer protests, would serve to mask the singer’s face while still keeping in view the area of the mutilated genitals. The clothing was conceived to be activated in a performance inside the Museo and would feature the presence of a counter tenor to intone phrases extracted from Confession Booklet for the Curate of the Indians with Instructions for Their Rites and Exhortation in Preparation for Death, a text published in Lima in 1585 and devised to outline instructions for the evangelisation of the Americas. Different fragments have been printed in fold-out leaflets in four languages (Spanish-Aymara, English-German), which people can take away with them. In the work, Austrian artist Ines Doujak, who investigates, writes and lectures in areas of visual culture and aesthetics with a queer, feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial focus, references the use of music of worship as a “civilising” instrument to associate it with the submission of Indigenous peoples.

Lola Hinojosa Martínez