aNetton, a 13-year-old boy from Pripyat who arrived in the Franconian province in 1987, a year after the Chernobyl disaster, where his talent for chess was discovered; Igor, his friend of the same age, both are inseparable like Siamese twins; Simon, the son of the host family, who after thirty years searches for the child prodigy Anton who has disappeared again after Igor suddenly appears as a chess master – these are the actors in the first novel by director and visual artist Benjamin Heisenberg. In “Lukusch,” this 48-year-old collects and combines text genres, works with many pictures, and orchestrates a clever narrative game of deception that makes reading so much fun.
You are making it complicated. The book says “Roman” and your name, then in the introduction you become part of the novel as the editor of a set of text and images.
It is the author’s first novel in a series of short stories. The characters’ views change as well, from wanting to tell the story from another character’s point of view the next day and developing their own narrative stance for each character. This framework is my editor, also because the first-person narrator is Simon Ritter and not me, although there are parts of my autobiography in the text from me as the editor. This confusion is part of the concept.
And then I also made a video for the novel!
The video came next. It is part of a work for an exhibition that is currently being created. At the end of the day, it should look like the wall of one of those commissions you see in crime novels. Visual search for clues with photos of people, crime scenes and events. The video works like cinematic evidence. At the same time, it tells about the genesis of the images in the book, which were compiled and edited from very interesting parts.
What is the first spark of the novel?
The project is very old. I started with a short story that I wrote around 1997 when I was studying cinema. With some changes, you can read it in the novel, in the chapter “That was the 80s”. Then, while I was still studying, I worked on it with Christoph Hochwesler and now 25 years later with Per Kleimet. So it’s a movie project that finally became a book thanks to Beer’s suggestion.
Was it interesting to try something differently that would be so complicated in the cinema?
definitely. It also follows a line in my artwork in which the link between text and image has been fundamental from the start. Basically, that’s how she got into cinema. During my studies, I dealt with Umberto Eco and semotics and then made my first video combining emoticons and texts. There are texts interacting with images and vice versa, in this way I create a narrative in the book which at the same time has a lot to do with my origins in Franconia and other experiences and people in my life.
The big picture or the main idea behind the novel is Chernobyl. You were born in 1974, like the protagonists of the novel, and you were twelve years old when the reactor disaster occurred. What do you remember?