Water Mill, New York
Created by the artist-filmmaker Christopher Roth and the journalist Georg Diez, 80*81 is a unique project that combines their distinct disciplines to recreate historical events of 1980-1981, when the world's cultural, political, and economic landscape changed dramatically in ways that are still apparent today. Roth and Diez have been collaborating with philosophers, scientists, astrologers and politicians in their investigation of those years and are publishing their findings in eleven books over the course of the project. The performance aspect of 80*81—making the research material visible—leads them to Zurich, Hamburg, New York and Johannesburg, focusing on shifting form and content each time. The "tour" will conclude at the Opera in Munich on New Year's Eve 2010.
Watermill will serve as one of the global locations, investigating and performing particular events of those years. For this installment of 80*81, entitled Ali, the Pope and the Virgin Mary—A Passion Play, Roth and Diez will offer a live restaging (with audience participation) of the failed May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II by right-wing extremist Mehmet Ali Agca. The performance will be followed by a talk about the full project. Roth and Diez will share the first four publications.
In the May 13 assassination attempt, Ali Agca missed his target because the Pope leaned down to greet a little girl holding a picture of the Appearance of Mary at Fátima, in Portugal. The Pope attributed his survival to Mary’s protection, and pardoned Ali Agca from his hospital bed at the Gemelli clinic. Amazingly, the assassination attempt was on the anniversary of a day in Ali Agca's childhood (May 13, 1917), when he and three other children were guarding their sheep on a meadow near Fátima in Portugal and the Virgin Mary appeared, ordering them to come back the 13th of every month.
On May 13 at the Watermill Center, Roth and Diez also will show a live broadcast of their collaborator Filipa Cesar, a Portugese artist who will be performing at the site in Portugal where the current pope is visiting that day.
Christopher Roth is an artist and film director. His feature film Baader won the Alfred Bauer Award at the Berlinale. Georg Diez is a journalist for Süddeutsche Zeitung and Tages-Anzeiger-Magazin in Zurich. His memoir Der Tod meiner Mutter was published in 2009.
The genesis of 80*81 lies in a conversation Roth and Diez had with disco legend Giorgio Moroder, on a cold and rainy Los Angeles winter day in December 2009. They discussed Ronald Reagan, Ayatollah Khomeini, American Gigolo, John Galliano, Robert Longo, Diva, Slavoj Zizek, New Pop, Solidarnocz, John Paul II, Paul Schrader, Don DeLillo, J.G. Ballard, C.G. Jung, The Blitz Kids and more, and Roth and Diez were inspired to undertake a year-long research and creative project that would lead them to Paris and the tiny office of Nobel Prize-winning AIDS scientist Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, to London and the pop manager Bob Last's explanation of the split of The Human League, to Aargau and chess giant Viktor Kortschnoi’s lesson in parapsychology.
80*81 is supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Goethe-Institut, Kampnagel Hamburg, and Theater am Neumarkt, Zurich.