Akeroyd Collection


P. Staff, The Prince of Homburg, 2019

In The Prince of Homburg, P. Staff considers the cycles of violence, desire and repression that are embedded in contemporary culture. The video is based on Heinrich von Kleist’s play of the same title, written in 1810 but set in 1675. Kleist’s drama begins with a disoriented prince sleepwalking through his royal gardens and develops into a nightmarish narrative that questions the limits of state control versus individual freedom. Staff invites fellow artists, writers, friends and collaborators, Conal Mestravick, Macey Rodman, Johanna Hedva, Nikita Gale, Debra Soshoux, Che Gossett, Nour Mobarak, and Sarah Shulman to create a re-telling of the play that explores the dream-like transgressions of law and order to reveal the fraught spaces where queer desires manifest. The video cuts together a narration of Kleist’s play with interviews, found footage, and song. In a series of fragmented ‘daytime’ sequences, the assembled cast of performers reflects on contemporary queer and trans identity and its proximity to desire and violence. Intense flashes of colour reveal items such as a glove, knives, blades and chains, intercut with the sun and sky, city streets and text. The work jumps between the hypnagogic and the historic, the descriptive with the poet, documentary with fiction. Staff reconfigures Kleist’s play to focus on the symbol of the exhausted, sleepwalking figure as a political protester. The film concludes with fanfare and bells, while Johanna Hedva asks if this is it, if this is really the end or if this is a dream. Visual collages are washed in a blood-red hue, like from behind half-closed eyelids. A discordant vocal song and glitched electronics fade out while the legible images disintegrate into hand-painted abstract animation sequences in washes of deeper reds.

MediumSingle-channel HD video, colour, sound
Duration23 minutes 6 seconds
Editionof 5 + 2 APs