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Dr. Passion Between Love & Hate

It's been a wild week in Berlin. And between the Play Nordic event, a weird gig of JAMES and a performance of PHANTOM/GHOST we encountered Dr. Passion again.
Henrik Boerger July 14, 2014
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JAMES felt slightly uncomfortable, caught in the vortex of Apple?
Photo by Henrik Börger

On a tropical Saturday afternoon. The Pan Nordic Building (home to all five Nordic embassies) is an adequate hangout for outstandingly beautiful and intelligent people. Hot chocolate and pancakes are served, modern architecture pleases the eye and mood. On a maple wooden terrace you hear Berlin’s State Secretary for Culture Tim Renner holding a lecture somewhere inside this modern temple of diplomacy. Swooning over Iceland’s music scene, while comfortable Danish built design-chairs ease the pain of summer. Assembled in casual pattern, the chairs look as sharp as the smartly dressed audience. Standing at the Oslo coffee-bar, by sheer coincidence, we see, looking like Al Pacino on vacation in Venice, wearing linen, none other than Dr. Passion, ordering an espresso with a molecular drop of malt sirup.

The night before at the Apple Store, Berlin, Kurfürstendamm. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION watched an interview and performance from Mancunian indie-rock legends JAMES. The band formed in the early 80s, played support shows for THE SMITHS and generally is considered an influential Britpop act. In June 2014 their latest record was released: La Petite Mort, an idiom for the post-orgasmic state of unconsciousness. The space itself is impressive: Apple built a high-tech equipped event venue within an impressive neoclassical building. It’s clean, grey, monumental, crowded but well monitored. A computer voice (imagine the male Siri stewardess) gives a briefing into the event’s concept and welcomes the audience. Seated in exactly leveled rows, paralyzed by indiscernibly flickering light, watching a big screen on stage, like baffled children waiting for a ‘Punch and Judy’ show at a TechCrunch conference. Four band-members entered the stage. Local radio big shot Silke Super, in essence, follows the usual interview routine. A few laughs here, some metaphysical thoughts on death and life there, facts about the bands writing routines and little insights to personal life. But the group on stage isn’t all comfortable being caught in the vortex of Apple. ‘How the hell did WE end up here?’ they literally ask themselves while being filmed by three blue-Apple-shirt wearing camera men. Every wrinkle digitalized in High Definition format, whereas the band developed an almost opposite concept for their output 30 years ago.

As JAMES present their first new song Walk Like You, a shadowy figure raises from the audience, hushes through the auditorium, followed by a hint of musk and cedar. It’s distinct, it’s indisputable. Passion just left the building. There’s by no means a reason left for sticking around the show anymore. The olfactory epithelium is our weakest spot. Follow the leader, follow Passion, Dr. Passion to be correct. Outside, on Berlins Disney version of Champs-Élysées, we find the Doctor caught up in a monologue addressing his wide-eyed assistant.

I feel disgusted, Karin. Look at this imperious building. They place their horrible logo right under these pillars of Ionic order. As if Apple was the contemporary fundament to this lost-in-the-cloud society. Undermining western culture from its ancient core. FUCK the Valley. Hand me my Walkman, honey. I’m off!!

 

Though bypassing tourists seem to be distracted by Passions repellent language and loud voice, the next Currywurst-hut will effortlessly set them back to routine. His assistant then hands over some cryptic insight to Dr. Passions schedule for the next days. It’s a savage journey through Berlins cultural whatsoever: Pancake performance, Asian food, bachelorette party, MiniBar, ‘Foreign Affairs’. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION is on a hunt. A swarm of editors hacks digits into their machines and finds a track to follow. First stop, the aforementioned scene at Play Nordic festival: While Passion plays it cool, digital rendered pancakes fly around a big screen. A big-eyebrowed Nordic clown explains the simplicity of mixing pancake dough. It’s funny, it’s kurzweilig.

 Dr. Passion Between Love & Hate

Dirk von Lotzow from PHANTOM/GHOST
Photo by Henrik Börger

As NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION has several spies sprinkled all over town, Passion was spotted eating delicious Kang Pet Bet Yank somewhere around the recreational canal in Kreuzberg, reported drinking great amounts of beer from Czech Republic, standing in front of a flat screen, watching a frazzling World-Cup broadcast and seen at several cocktail-affectionate bars, escorting six drunk women of whom one was reportedly wearing a tiara. But why do we even follow the Doctor? What do we want? It’s quite simple: Win him over to write for our magazine. Passion almost completely retired from contributing articles to non-academic publications. So we’re on a mission to bring the controversial character back to public recognition. We’re like chlamydia: taking someone over by the persistence of close contact.

Close contact? Foreign Affairs: Monday night, an international festival of contemporary performing arts. The oft-praised Dirk von Lowtzow and his project PHANTOM/GHOST team up with Cosima von Bonin for a ‘polymorphous, perverse installation.’ The stage is crowded with works by Bonin, using mostly older installations and placing them into context with this performance. The main theme is ‘maritime’. Fluffy sea animals, two clams on a swing, a shark sitting at a grand piano, a lobster on a coral, a talking crab, played by two fin de siècle cabaret-beauties strolling and lingering around stage, a colorful octopus, a seahorse and several silky figures looking like Bart Simpson. The stage morphs throughout the show, creating beautiful tableaus of twilight-romanticism and showbiz-Vanitas. Glitter raining down on umbrellas, a giant fog-machine coves the sea bottom with mist, a bent streetlight, a neon-cigarette and sufficiently modest lighting. The multi allegorical show comes off light-footed and could have been a triumphant take on cabaret and camp performance, but it wasn’t. Semi-philosophical interventions by shellfish or a lecture on poultry and sea animals in dance theatre literally explain the concepts superstructure tonight. ‘Post-modern-über-referencializing’ and context breaking forms of theatre like this, expose insecurity about form at the same time. If irony is used like an axe, it just cuts off every subtle aesthetic possibility.

Outside the venue at the bar Dr. Passion is already in deep concentration. He looks lost and sweaty. His assistant? Nowhere at reach. When we approach him with a smile, he suddenly wakes up and rushes out approaching the emerging cloudburst. Only leaving a scribbled napkin behind…

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Another hint? The napkin Dr. Passion left behind

You missed our first encounter with Dr. Passion? Find out more about the mysterious character right here. If you have more questions feel invited to ask our author  Henrik directly as he’s currently trying to approach the distinctive doctor.

 

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