Sven Johne, 2017

Дорогой Владимир Путин |
Dear Vladimir Putin

“Dear Vladimir Putin, please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Peter Bittel. I was born in Dresden on April 19, 1949, where I still live today. Please forgive my somewhat rusty Russian; I haven't spoken your beautiful language for quite some time now.” (from Bittel's speech)

Retired engineer Peter Bittel (Gottfried Richter) prepares for his great performance: a speech to Vladimir Putin about things personal and political, a monologue in Russian about ten minutes long. Although Bittel can hold his speech from his home computer, it is supposed to be live and available to everyone online. Bittel practices reading his script, edits and rejects or hones individual passages, and sometimes despairs in the face of the pronunciation and grammar of the language. It is a text like a confession: Peter Bittel is a "Westerner" who has lost his faith.

And parallel to this, he irons his shirt carefully, washes and shaves himself, several times and very thoroughly, he gets dressed calmly, the tie is awkwardly knotted. His dark Sunday suit is a bit tight, but the shoes shine. He could be going to a wedding—or to a funeral.

Peter Bittel's words to Vladimir Putin have a clear structure, his critique of the political West is largely well founded. While "somehow" sympathizing with the right-wing movement Pegida, he doesn't consider himself right wing. Bittel's critique of the structure of the European Union for its lacks in democracy is more left wing, his "solution" (not democratizing the European Union but instead joining Eurasian Union under Russian leadership), in contrast, is quite "right wing." Bittel pleads on the one hand for international understanding and solidarity, but he is also essentially xenophobic and, conditioned over many years of authoritarianism, a German petit bourgeois. All the same: the political West with its duplicity (Ukraine vs. Near East) has failed morally, or capitalism is absolutely killing us, or the EU commission cannot be voted out of power: Bittel's speech oscillates between political camps and challenges us to question our own favorite political standpoints, to discard them or to buttress them. But most of all, Peter Bittel is just a nice guy. And yet unpleasant: because he confronts us with our own fears: what if this guy is right? What happens if things turn out just as he prophesizes?

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Дорогой Владимир Путин |
Dear Vladimir Putin
Sven Johne
1 channel video, color video, stereo audio
3840px x 2160px, 17'30"