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Ekphratische Schichtarbeit und die Ikonoklasmen der Übermalung in Heiner Müllers Bildbeschreibung

Mersmann, Birgit

Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Bd. 61 (2016), Iss. 1: S. 71–96

1 Citations (CrossRef)

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Mersmann, Birgit

Cited By

  1. Musiktheater im Legitimationsdiskurs

    2023 [Citations: 0]


The auto-drama Bildbeschreibung (1984), written by Heiner Müller in the form of a poetic prose, can be read as a response to the emergence of a post-dramatic theater of images and media. In the work of the playwright Müller, it plays a key role as a performance-related Sehtext (viewing text). Under the agenda of image aesthetics, the article explores how the theater text Bildbeschreibung adopts the classical tradition of ekphrasis in order to transform it by transcription. It discusses the literary form and activity of image description as a process of intermedial translation through which the described picture – a drawing of a stage setting – is continuously covered with writing and this way “overpainted” in layers. In a close reading of the written (not staged) dramatic text the multilayered entanglements between description, viewing and observation are exposed. A special focus is drawn on the poetic method of over- painting(Übermalung) as an iconoclastic collision between images – literary images, theater images, film images, and artistic images. The article conclusively argues that Heiner Müller’s overpaintings (Übermalungen) can be qualified as an image-critical strategy of performative iconoclasm by means of which the surrogate function and staging character of images can be crossed and suspended, but also the productive power of imaginatio as a free and uncontrolled stream of images can be activated.