A little William Holden, by Martí Manen

Perhaps not many among you remember that during the first two weeks of The Inadequate, there was a performance called “Where do characters go when the story is over?“.

This was the description you can still find in the “Guide To The Performance” (/performanceguide/):

The performance Where do characters go when the story is over? presents, formatted as an unscripted conversation, the unlikely meeting between a fictional character and a real person, the conversation leading to the disintegration of such a distinction. In this case, the fictional person is none other than William Holden. Not the original Hollywood great William Holden, but the hybrid made by Martin Kippenberger in his work The William Holden Company (1991) and later ‘spun off’ by Dora García in her William Holden in Frankfurt (2008) – see www.williamholdeninfrankfurt.org. The real person is Geoffrey Carey, Hollywood misfit, European film avant-garde actor, and son of Western legend Phil Carey.

This all seems so long ago, and due to many circumstances, it does not look very likely William Holden will visit Venice very soon. However, fate has it that William Holden was, for Martí Manen, the ideal spokesman for The Inadequate. One has to know perhaps that William and Martí already met some time ago in Stockholm, and they have been friends ever since.

William is indeed always, a wonderful conversation partner and a connaisseur of many things and one of them is The Inadequate. So it is very proudly that I present you with this very special conversation between Mr. Manen and Mr. William Holden, Hollywood Star.

Interview with William Holden, by Martí Manen.

Martí Manen -I’m starting this interview to you as a character of Dora García. I know that before Dora you had another life and activities. How do you relate your past with the fact that you are facing a new reality?

William Holden- Since my assignment in Frankfurt back in 2009 I am aware of a certain complexity and ambiguity that people perceive in my existence. By time – or more precisely: through my re-appearances, my existence became rather complex from the perspective of the spectator.

For them there is first William Holden, the Hollywood Star. This is how it started. Later there was William Holden, the Hollywood Star as a Doppelgänger of Martin Kippenberger. This was the starting point of “The William Holden Company”. And finally there is William Holden, the Hollywood Star as imagined by Kippenberger, a character created by Dora García. This is what I am now.

In my stage shows/lectures I used to introduce myself 3 times:
Once as Star, once as a projection of Martin Kippenberger, once as Doras’ creation.

Each introduction starts with “Good Evening, my name is William Holden, ….”. And that’s how I perceive myself. I am William Holden.

At this moment in time I don’t really have a past. Not in the sense as you have one. Not even in the sense as I had, when I was “just a Hollywood Star”. In my current form as a character I exist through appearances (of myself). And as it is the nature of all fictional beings they cannot have a past – not a single one at least – because we fictional characters always appear in the present tense of our spectators.

MM- Where do characters go when the story is over? And putting this question in an art context, You have been present in some projects from Dora García, appearing again after your time in Frankfurt. Are we talking about new stories? Or is it the same one?

WH- In a certain sense my appearances are one story, because they all describe me. They describe my changes, my reaction to the new situations and so on…

But this story is not a continuous one. It has gaps, caesuras that separate the one story into fragments. Each fragment contains a story of it’s own – and sometimes even several stories.

MM- What do you think about the art world?

WH- I like both of them.

MM- Are you free as a character?

WH- As I am not a character from a Novel, but one from a theatre play (drama?) I am free to speak for myself not for somebody else. I do represent myself. But I am not free of having an author. I am scripted.

MM- If you are scripted it means that you have some rules to follow, or you would become a sort of free character with no “owner”. You are a character by Dora García and, as a character depending on an author, it seems interesting to talk with you about freedom, as you are free to speak for yourself as you say. What is freedom for William Holden? And for Dora García?

WH- I have absolutely no idea what freedom means for Dora. If it comes to me: Yes I am following certain rules. When I came to existence in Frankfurt I had the assignment to write a piece about that place. Usually my existence is bound to a certain Task. But I guess that’s not so different from any other existence – being fictional or not. I guess a non-fictional character is freer in that sense that he/she has no obligation to make sense.

MM- Does a character “make sense”? In what sense? Is a character something more “logical” than reality? We can find more and less defined characters in fiction, some of them have a main role, and others are just secondary characters? What you would like to be? What is William Holden’s position in Dora’s work and world?

WH- I am very glad you asked these questions and I’d certainly be happy to have found the answers. Do I make sense ….? Possibly not – who knows? But your question shows that there is a high desire of my spectators to perceive me as meaningful.

Is a character something more “logical” than reality? – I am real.

“We can find more and less defined characters in fiction, some of them have a main role, and others are just secondary characters?” – I’d say that depends on the point of view, history and some coincidental circumstances.

“What you would like to be?” – I am very happy with my current position as a projection.

What is William Holden’s position in Dora’s work and world? – Aren’t  you getting a bit private here?

MM- Let’s talk about creative processes. Do the character and the author work together?

WH- They certainly do.

MM- How? What kind of processes? What kind of dialogue?

WH- What kind of a question!

MM- As a character you are not a representation as you are what you are, a sort of fiction, a construction per se. But when an actor takes you and acts as you something happens in terms of representation. How do you feel about it? Is it possible to act? Is the actor a liar?

WH- I feel entirely indifferent about the fact being “taken by an actor” and I have only a very abstract knowledge about it – in the meaning that I know intellectually that it happens. I guess it is happening right know. But I have no notion about it.

Personally I don’t think that acting in the meaning of “the act of an actor (as a character)” is possible on stage. That might be different if it comes to making films.

MM- Venice. You have been in Venice Biennale, a fantastic place where everything means something more that what we think and where tradition is present all the time. What is your impression? How is everything going with the Spanish Pavilion? Is it well understood?

WH- Coming to Venice was an especially pleasant task for me, as it gave me the possibility to go see the home-country of “La Perla”, my preferred ice-cream and coffee place in Frankfurt, and I was honored to participate to the Spanish Pavilion together with my fantastic colleague Geoffrey Carey.  It offered me the possibility to meet very interesting people. I think Venice is as much a fiction as I am.

Your question whether the Pavilion was well understood implies that it has a certain intention. I am not sure about that.

MM- The pavilion works in several timelines, it is performance based and -at the same time- offers an exhibition with material that can be understood as references for the artist and the whole idea of the project. Visitors at Venice Biennial jump from one pavilion to another, from one exhibition to the next one, meeting people and celebrating the joy of meeting people in this theatrical context that is the city of Venice. I was asking about the perception on the pavilion because I’m curious to know about your perception as a character on it: If the place is helping you or not, if the visitors want to get in contact with the proposal, if it is difficult to work on this kind of conditions…

WH- Yes, I think this is one possible way to describe the project. The pavilion is very helpful; the conditions there are very real and it is not difficult to work there. But the idea of a visitor that is eager to get into contact with a proposal is a bit too abstract for me.


4 Responses to “A little William Holden, by Martí Manen”

  • William Holden is my dad.

    • That must be another Mr. William Holden, different from the one we are talking about, who, as a fictional character, cannot have real life children. As far as we know, at least.

  • Una tomadura de pelo .
    ¿De que se trata?
    Quizás pretende un refrito ideológico o una lista de libros y obras no leídos?

    • El que usted no lo entienda no quiere decir que nadie quiera tomarle el pelo. ¿Qué interés puede tener nadie en tomarle el pelo a usted? Ningún artista le ha tomado el pelo jamás a nadie ‚Qué podría sacar de ello?. Deje de ofenderse. Si no le interesa, no tiene obligación alguna de prestarle atención. Gracias por su amabilidad.

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