- Agata Zubel

How to describe a picture? 

The great German dramatist Heiner Müller provided an incredibly strong response to this question in his piece Bildbeschreibung. He and she are imprisoned in a picture, locked within the frame of time that has been stopped. Drawing only on an analysis of this captured moment, the author comes up with stories that might have led them to this moment, unsparing in his sophisticated analysis of our reality and timeless existential questions.

In sound, I find this endeavour inspiring.

I want to take on the challenge.

This whole dramatic situation frozen in time, the moment that has been stopped simply begs to have its unreal existence complemented with music. He and she–two actors-singers—are stuck in the image, constantly commenting on their position or the way that has apparently led them to it. The musicians are also part of the picture. The listener gradually gets to know its elements one by one. The path planned across the musically composed space is a passage through the picture. 

Agata Zubel 


Bildbeschreibung by Heiner Müller was written in 1984, following a commission from the Styrian Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Art in Graz. The author found his inspiration in a drawing by Emilia Koleva, a Bulgarian set design student who depicted in it her own dream. The German playwright saw his piece as a kind of “landscape of imagination” that could be presented in a theatrical form. The numerous productions based on it have revealed various possibilities of interpreting it and transforming it into a stage work. Müller’s piece does not have typical characteristics of a play: there is no action, roles or dialogue, which is why staging it requires finding one’s own key to present its hidden meanings.