Pronouncing the German word irreal [unreal] with some faltering or stumbling, the word that comes out is irrereal [insanereal]. And it is insane — the real. And doesn't it also quite often stumble and falter, the real, the effective? Stumbling between here and there, between this and that reality, which we still cannot grasp, between the seemingly unreal, which is (in particular in the age of electronic media) indeed very real.

Dream is an old and, time and again, new experience of the entanglement of the real and the unreal, or, to put it differently, of the reality of the unreal. Even Moses acted as interpreter of the pharao's dreams. In the East Asian culture, the butterfly dream of Zhunagzi is a classic, with its question if we are dreaming of a butterfly, or a butterfly is dreaming of us. And Kleist has the Prince of Homburg, who is expecting his commendation but hears of his arrest with subsequent death sentence, ask:

    Träum ich? Wach ich? Leb ich? Bin ich von Sinnen? (II 10)
    [Am I dreaming? am I awake? am I alive? have I lost my senses?]

Dream is probably the human experience of a realized space for possibilities, an enacted fantasy, which everybody knows in one way or the other. It is a direct neighbour to art, and when we encounter art, we often feel like in a dream.

In the dream that is put on stage in irrereal, a singer stands with closed eyes and wearing headphones in front of the audience and speak-sings the sentence: "Everything is real." She speak-sings the single phonemes it is made of, taking long pauses. Almost the whole time, what the audience hears is not her real voice, but her voice coming from two loud speakers that are arranged in front of her. Is she still really singing, or is she lipsynching and the sounds are coming from somewhere else, are not really here at all? And when, by electronic transformations, the audience hears more than one tone, which one is real and which one is transformed?


First performance October 9, 2021 in Sprengel Museum Hannover in the concert imaginary real with Sophia Körber, soprano and Joachim Heintz, electronics.