Although he hates both going for walks and visiting museums, music critic Reger has been taking walks to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna for almost thirty years, spending every other morning doing exactly the same thing there. Gazing at Tintoretto’s Portrait of a White Bearded Man, he always sits on the same bench in the Bordone Hall (which doesn’t actually exist, although the Tintoretto painting does). Reger contemplates the Old Masters in order to pull them apart, examining them for imperfections with passion and precision. Every time, the White Bearded Man is the only one to stand up to his scrutiny. The gallery attendant Irrsigler, who is both Reger’s conversation partner and his mouthpiece, is always by his side. Because over the decades, the Bordone Hall has become Reger’s thinking and reading room. Surrounded by Old Masters, enjoying the pleasant temperature and perfect lighting conditions, he leafs through the books of "great minds". But for Reger, who shuns daylight and prefers fog and darkness, this strange habit is actually a means of survival – especially since the death of his wife, which has made him painfully aware of his own imperfections. And so he sits there in the peace of the gallery, far from other people, day in and day out, searching for the truth and finding only flaws.
Thomas Bernhard’s satirical novel, published in 1985, exposes the pretentions and affectations of humanity in an unrelenting diatribe. While Reger looks at the Tintoretto, he is watched by the gallery attendant Irrsigler. At the end of the chain is the unpublished philosopher Atzbacher, also a regular visitor to the museum, who observes the two of them. Only at first glance is this a typical Bernhard rant by two old men against Western culture. Thom Luz interprets the story as a desire for human contact, and stages it in an associative, musical way as a study of humanity and all its frailties.
14 September 2018, Kammerspiele