“First Tableau: And then they discerned: Heaven is the largest construction site in the world. Or: The transfiguration of Saint Lord Jim from the perspective of four men in very special suits”
Lord Jim, a modern Don Quixote figure created by Joseph Conrad, lived in an imaginary world of the novel hero’s great deeds, only to fail all the more impressively in the real one – as an officer on an English passenger ship. The Lord Jim Lodge made this character its patron saint. The Lodge was founded in 1985 by the Austrian artist Jörg Schlick together with the German painters Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen and the author Wolfgang Bauer, who met to prepare the exhibition “Kritische Orangen für Verdauungsdorf” (Critical Oranges for Digestion County) in Graz, Austria. The actual founding act is enshrouded in the shadows of the late-night hours at some local gastronomic establishment. In its essence the Lodge represents a classic example of that which Austrians fondly refer to as a “schnapps idea”: that kind of boozed up intellectualism that you frequently find in those heavy drinking countries on the east side of Old Europe. When Jörg Schlick, after a hard night at the bottle, had to deliver at the very last minute the poster motif for the exhibition to the printshop, he found a beer-coaster scrawl from the past evening: a female breast with a sun aureole and a hammer. Better than nothing! This is the low-budget myth for the genesis of the “Sonne Busen Hammer” (Sun Breasts Hammer) logo. With the aid of the cherished narcotic byproducts “megalomania” and “reality schism”, the Lord Jim Lodge set itself the goal of making this logo more widely known than that of The Coca Cola Company. From the comfy well-tended inconsequentiality and social powerlessness in Dolby Surround of the off art bog in relation to the value-production chains of cultural symbol production this made quite adequate sense: that is, none. At the threshold of symbol globalization (the notorious ‘90s are only a stone’s throw away), artists like Kippenberger, Oehlen and Schlick set up a last idyllic Autobahn rest stop for a big denial that had long since become pure mannerism. (Bauer as an author couldn’t have cared less, since he had nothing better in mind at that point anyway). In other words:
At no time was the Lord Jim Lodge ever a straightforward art or counterculture project. It was the private pastime of a bunch of macho artistic genius guys. Decisions regarding membership were made by the inner circle and were not even announced to those who had been admitted. Generally the members were men (women were explicitly barred from membership) who had achieved a certain renown in the era, such as the racecar legend Niki Lauda. Those who made an effort to obtain membership were not admitted on principle: the classic postpunk anti-attitude with cirrhosis setting in – as it is.