Jörg Czischke’s voluminous “Caliban project”¹ from 1975 plays a prominent role in his posthumous works – not least because this exhibit allows people to understand, present and discuss Czischke's artistic work. Bonn art historian Dr Uta F. Miksche emphasised the value of this work in an undated text (around 1998).² In her work, she referred to the Arno Schmidt's literary work as highly visible source of inspiration for Jörg Czischke and specified it to that effect: "... the story “Caliban über Setebos” by Arno Schmidt, which he wrote in 1964 as the contrafact to the Greek myth of Orpheus. Essential to Schmidt's text are the extensive codes and transformations that give the reader few indications that the story is an allusion to the Orpheus myth. […] and to show this ancient myth in this roundabout way using materials he had found that were seemingly worthless."

Viewers who explore Czischke's large-format, cloth-covered Caliban box open themselves to a unique universe and a broad horizon of artistic articulation with every page. In this way, it would be both too simple and even incorrect to categorise Czischke as “Arno Schmidt’s illustrator”³ because of “Caliban”. His work should also not be seen as parasitic, as it does no injustice to its famous model, nor is it a parody. In contrast, Czischke used nearly all conventional artistic, graphic and typographic methods over more than three years to further develop the cryptic, complex Orpheus Caliban myth continued by Arno Schmidt. He elevated it to his level of the interpretative, visual arts without damaging or even distorting any of the countless associations in the original text.

Why did Uta Miksche explicitly write the word “contrafact” in her work? According to the most established reference works, the word stands for nothing less than the “adaptation” of a work⁴ – perhaps also in the sense of a visual soundtrack to the original text. As in many of his works from the late 1960s and early 1970s, Czischke used methods of analysis and techniques that were pioneering at the time, but have since become common in our everyday lives. He connected nearly all of the sheets – or networked them – through the structure, details and characteristic style of his work. A comparison with the “hypertext language" (html) seems more than just conceivable, and sometimes even suggests itself. Czischke anticipated this and claimed for himself what could only be realised on a broader scale through newly developed programming languages. He recognized that the Caliban-Orpheus project could not be implemented without a new underlying intercultural structure.
Jörg Czischke
Caliban über Setebos –
A paraphrase of literature

Peter Zillig, Cologne

“an ambiguous form…”

“to escape from the stylistic one-sidedness of conventional illustrations.”