»Comparing apples
and oranges is my
daily bread.«

Juli Gudehus

The Magic Flute

Mozart was a Freemason. It is therefore not surprising that one of his compositions references these ideas. Not explicitly of course. At the time, Freemasonry was considered a threat. The ideals of Freemasonry are humanity, tolerance, liberty, equality, fraternity … do the last three sound familiar to you? Since the French Revolution it is no longer a taboo to expect or appreciate all of them. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to repeatedly bring to mind how important they are for our social coexistence. 

In »The Magic Flute« bravery, fortitude, and philanthropy win over superstition, narrowmindedness, and violence. Michael Schilhan strongly emphasized this aspect in his production. He commissioned me for a contemporary version of the biblical writing on the wall. Instead of a threat like in the story of Belshazzar, in the course of the performance, you could read the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Questions and poetical contemplations add a kind of visual footnote to the storyline. I translated these into the icon Esperanto that I had developed earlier, when I retold the creation story from the Bible. 

In contrast to the Genesis, the terms and texts here were much less figurative. Finding or designing a pictogram for »sky«, »good« or »breeding« is a walk in the park compared to words like »reason«, »dwelling«, or »gifted«.

Alexia Redl integrated my rebuses – single pictograms or longer lines of icons – by letting Michael Bachhofer project and partly animate them on the wall or by printing them on boards.

By the way, one of my four great grandfathers was a Freemason. This was still considered suspicious at the beginning of the 20th century. My grandmother, his daughter, taught me a secret symbol of recognition. Anyway Freemasons liked symbols much and I like to imagine that my great grandfather would have rejoiced at my contribution to this production of »The Magic Flute«.

You want me to translate something for you into my Icon Esperanto as well? So why don’t you drop me a line!

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