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    Das Delta
    Weißwein und Aspirin
    Offene Rechnungen
    Heisse Hunde
    Grobes Foul

Der Tote im Fels

Theater, Oper
Hörspiel, Film
Goldfishs Reisen ...

Das Δ des Deltas
Dei cannoli. Del Tschenett

   No man's land is ...


Varia / BioBibliographie

Stand 29.07.2009


(under construction)

No man's land is enemy's land

The invitation card read: "You are cordially invited to the opening of the Brenner project on Friday, August 1, 1997 at 12 o'clock." He smiled at himself and slowly tore up the piece of paper into thin strips. A few hours later and two hours before the opening, the first corpse was found.

Years ago, Totò Palermo, inspector of the Polizia di Stato, had been transferred for disciplinary reasons to the Brenner because he himself had not taken narcotic laws too seriously. Now, he sat at the frontier, at his best waving tourists past, and had come to terms with the fact that Siberia was to be the final stage of his career. Amongst his colleagues, the Brenner was known under the code name Siberia and rated as the graveyard of all hopes. Quoting Dante Alighieri with lasciate perdere ogni speranza, voi che entrate on their office door, they were really addressing themselves, the keepers of law and order, rather than the breakers of the law, who here were only seldom seen.
It had got much worse since the opening of the frontiers. Only the Tamils, Curds, and Pakistanis searching at nighttime on all fours for a breach to the Promised Land in the rocks above the frontier-post, gave the keepers of law and order and their search dogs a certain right of being.
Totò Palermo found this human hunt to be firstly too tiring, and secondly distasteful. Due to his predilections and his past, he had been excluded from the special case which, a few days previously, had ended in the seizure of a truck loaded with seven hundred and eighty kilograms of cocaine for the Russian market instead of apples from South Tyrol destined for Germany. Therefore, there remained only this opening.
The boss had said "Palermo, you're going there as the official representative of the Italian Police Force at the Brenner." The colleagues had laughed themselves silly at the agente speciale artistico, the special mission agent for art, Totò Palermo. "And...", the boss had said, "in civilian and sober, mi raccomando."
And that is how it came about, that on this day, Totò Palermo, the inspector of the Polizia di Stato was officially standing in the sun, in front of a café, drinking white wine and watching the goings on at the Brenner. Still two hours to go until the opening. Siberia could also have its pleasant sides.

As inspector Palermo was standing again at the bar to order his second glass of white wine, two men came in and went to sit down with a third one at a little table next to the door. They will be artists, inspector Palermo thought. In long years of experience, he had acquired a knowing look for people who crossed the Brenner. They're pretty nervous, he thought, yes, that's them. Then they began to speak together, whispering, but still loud enough for inspector Palermo, who was straining his ears, to understand.
"In the mail carriage...", one of them was saying "I don't believe it. We unlocked the door and went in, and there he was lying there, and then I thought to myself: Still from yesterday, from the party. Drunk and sleeping it off." The other one threw a glance around the café, inspector Palermo bent over his glass of wine. "He was", the other one whispered, "he was..." and then soundlessly pronounced a word. Inspector Palermo had paid good attention and had read lips. He had read dead. "Shit" said the third.

A flag was fluttering in the wind in front of the two railway carriages. It read Niemandsland. Inspector Palermo had followed the three men. Not noticing him, they had climbed into the mail carriage without turning around, and were talking to one another. "In one and a half hours we will have the press on our backs", he heard one of them say. "That's not so bad" said the other "nothing like the corpse that we're already saddled with. And then above all, a dead colleague. That's the end of the project." For a few seconds, nothing happened. Inspector Palermo was just going to emerge from his hiding, when he heard a voice again. "The end. Or pretty hype publicity" said the third. "I'm all for getting him out of the way, at least until this evening" said the first.

"Gentlemen" said inspector Palermo, now standing in the mail carriage, having introduced himself and discovered the strangulation marks on the body" had you quarreled with the dead man?" For the length of a second, the three looked at each other to then answer in the negative. "Not more than normal for such a project", said one of them. "Good" said the inspector "I will believe you for the moment". I don't know much about ..."art" said the first. And then someone came running up to the carriage shouting.

"They're destroying Hollywood!"
Inspector Palermo didn't have a clue of what was going on. He only saw that there was something that seemed to excite the artists just as much as the corpse. "What about Hollywood?" he said. "The installation over there, in the field above the motorway frontier-station", said one of the artists, "we must go over there immediately. Problems have cropped up." Inspector Palermo decided to follow the artists to the other side of the valley. The corpse in the mail carriage could wait. The case seemed to be taking a new turn.

And then it became clear that the inspector had gone all that way for nothing. Hollywood was a purely artistic problem, at the most, of political order. In no case did it need criminal investigation. Workers from the Brenner motorway were just loading the one meter high, white Y onto their truck, wood was still lying in the field, five artists were standing around. An argument was going on, it was about an authorization, and if it had been given or not. "I'm going back to my corpse", inspector Palermo said "with the best will, this is not within my competence." One of the artists followed suit. "We've got a common problem", he said. "And that is?" inspector Palermo looked at him doubtfully. "The corpse", said the artist "is disturbing your plans. And ours too." "Right", said inspector Palermo.

"Has that also got something to do with you?" said inspector Palermo, and pointed North. "Yes" said the artist, it's an installation of a colleague. He did it over there in Austria, a few meters behind the frontier. A mirror-door that turns in the wind. Palermo stood still. "Does it reflect on one side?" he said. "No, on both." "Then we have a new problem", said inspector Palermo, and walked off.

The corpse still had a knife stuck in its back. It was attached to the mirror-door with climbing ropes, and slowly turned with the door in the wind. "A colleague?" said inspector Palermo. The artist, white in the face, nodded. "We'll do it this way", said Palermo, "We'll go back to Italy, I've got nothing to loose here, and then I will phone up the Austrian colleagues. And in the meantime, we should think carefully. For instance about who could have something against us."

They were sitting in the mail carriage and hadn't got one single step further. Neither inspector Palermo, nor the artists. The opening was to start in half an hour. "Let's go", said inspector Palermo, "I could do with a brandy. Let's lock up and go to the bar.

"Ciao ispettore", said the man at the bar to Palermo and raised his glass, "drink with me. You're a looser, just like I am. We're both out of the game, and out of no fault of ours. We've both simply been put out in the cold."
Inspector Palermo went up to the man and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Hard times for one of your sort, Speckbacher", he said. "Twenty years a specialist for shipping services and frontier-clearance, you know every line of the law off by heart and every special instruction and customs regulation. And now there are no longer any such laws or customs rules. Suddenly it's all no man's land here. That can get to your liver. I understand that."
"And then these funny artists come along Ispettore and make a joke out of this or that side of the frontier, as if it had never existed."
"I understand", said inspector Palermo, "come along" he said to the young man "I will pay for your beer. You just come with me and we can put this on record." And when they went past the artists who were sitting at the two tables next to the door, inspector Palermo said: "I can understand him."

© translated by Helen Adkins

Written for and published in:

p.t.t.red. treffpunkt niemandsland. 1997

The summer of 1997, on the initiative of the team of artists "p.t.t.red" (Stefan Micheel and Hans Winkler, Berlin), saw the realization at the Brenner Pass of the "Project for a Meeting Place in No-Man's Land." Artists from the neighboring countries of Italy and Austria, as well as from Germany and the United States, were asked to attempt to deal with the special situation of the Brenner Pass. Two base stations (the ex-school house at the Brenner Pass, and the Museum Gallery in Bolzano) offered the public information on the concepts of the individual works installed at the site.

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