MA in Design Research assignment for Akiko Busch (FEBruary 2016):
The fictional biography of an object selected from the exhibition “Take An Object” at the MoMA
Literaturwurst (Literature Sausage)
Dieter Roth – 1969, published 1961-70
“To Seek a Newer World” was the fourth book to be written by Robert F. Kennedy, the last before he was assassinated in June 1968. It is a veritable manifesto of his ideas, partially culled from position papers and speeches, on a range of issues from crime and poverty to the war in Vietnam. In Germany, it was published as “Suche nach einer neuen Welt” in both hardback and paperback.
In the following interview with one ill-fated copy of the book, Literaturwurst talks about his transformation from political publication into a literary sausage.
What was it like growing up as the progeny of such a well-respected political figure?
I grew up with so many aspirations. My author had some great ideas about how to address many of the problems plaguing America, but being born in Germany it was always so hard to make sense of what was happening over there. I did feel that some of the ideas weren’t really valued.
That was when I made friends with Tin Drum by Günter Grass and The Redhead by Alfred Andersch. I discovered later on that they were also Literaturwurst so we had a lot of things in common.
You have often hinted at the abuse you received after the loss of your father. Can you describe the impact this had on you?
I spoke about the friends I had back in Düsseldorf, and they were incredibly important to me. One day I was thrown onto a bookshelf, and just left there with them. It felt like I was there for years, and if it wasn’t for them, I think I’d have just collapsed. I honestly don’t know how long it was, but it hurt. Being left, unloved, like that. I felt like I’d been misunderstood. That was the heart of the emotional abuse.
The physical abuse didn’t come until later. One afternoon, I was taken into the kitchen. He (I found out later when he branded me that his name was Dieter Roth) started tearing me into pieces. I just about managed to keep myself together, when he threw in some spices, onion and garlic. But when he added in the water and gelatin, I just started to disintegrate. I was at a total loss for words and nothing made sense, then eventually, the ink started to seep out. That was when he stuffed me in the sausage casing. I really wasn’t the same again after that.
So how did it feel when you were put in a frame?
To begin with I was so unhappy at being taken off the bookshelf. Despite the loneliness, at least I had a purpose. Being made into a sausage, I felt like I could no longer be taken seriously. And then I was paraded around from gallery to museum, my abuse laid bare for people to gawp at. These arty types who would never have understood me.
After a while though, I started to enjoy the experience, especially the people watching. There are three different types of faces I see, and I always try and guess what expression they’ll have. There’s the ones that scrunch their eyes together, the ones that smile and then the ones that don’t even react. I’ve travelled the world, and seen so many faces, and I’ve been in some of the most exclusive parties. Oh the stories!
What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?
I’ve always wondered why my wonderful author was disrespected. I could have been a quality casserole to be savored and lovingly cooked. Instead, I became a sausage to be thrown into a pan and frazzled. I have always felt I’m more important than that. But at the end of the day, the biggest disappointment of my life is that people find me hard to swallow!