RTV: Doris Vila

Release Date: Friday, May 7, 2010

Vila’s multimedia theater work, “1, 2, 3 Much”

This piece consists of tableaux built from the letters, literary musings, and phantasmagoric drawings (selected from over 25,000 pieces) by the Swiss genius Adolf Wölfli who lived most of his life in an institution for mental patients. The work includes images of falling stars and star birds, discussions of algebra as music (Wölfli produced his own form of graph music early in the 20th century), the “God-Father heaven” with its “omnipotence moths”, an ecstatic celestial numbering nomenclature, and other amazing conceptual visions described in Wölfli’s own wandering, poetical style. These are accompanied by strange waltzes, abstract hymns, and surreal electronic soundscapes by a composer, David Weinstein. An actor moves live among these elements, gradually transforming his appearance by adding elements to a fantastical bird and flower-like costume. In the interview, Vila explains her fascination with Adolf Wölfli as he worked his way back to some coherent existence and re-invented himself, speculates on the relationship of sanity and creative activity, describes interactive art as the realization of a dream that everyone shares, and unfolds the making of her piece entitled “Flock of Words.”


Doris Vila is renowned for her installation and theatre pieces (e.g. “The Book of Air,” “The Spatial Rights Modulator,” “Theatermachine”) where passing viewers or actors trigger video, holographic and sound events. As a visual artist, she has worked in a variety of media including mixed-media paintings, lithographs, silkscreens, and photographs. She headed the Holography Department at the Art Institute of Chicago where she taught “The Mechanics of Light: Perceptual and Conceptual.”