Contemporary art and popular culture collide at the PILOTENKUECHE International Artist Program in Leipzig-Leutzsch. Vampire Bat is in the house.
Taking inspiration from abandoned buildings, a complex relationship with capitalism and the physical energy of the city, American artist Christopher Sperandio has found Leipzig to be the perfect city to launch his latest comic, Vampire Bat. Vampire Bat is a new anti-fascist hero who fights for democracy.
Vampire Bat is truly international – it was written in Houston, inked in Leipzig and printed in Riga.
No detail left to chance, the drawings in Vampire Bat are based directly on those of Spanish cartoonists Guillermo Sánchez Boix and Fernando Cabedo Torrents. Both artists struggled under the fascist rule of Franco’s Spain. Vampire Bat is translated into six languages (Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish). It continues its historical references by taking the form of a 1960s European horizontal single strip format. The format was known as “fumetto” in Italy. Sometimes the slender books were included in packs of cigarettes.
The project is a collision between Karl Marx and the iconic trope of American super heroes.
But why “Vampire Bat?” It was inspired by a famous quote of the German philosopher: “Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour” (Marx’s Das Kapital, Volume I, Ch. 10). This hero’s mission is to fight against the elite of society, those who have distorted democracy with their wealth and corrupted the system. Sperandio cleverly disguises Vampire Bat as the thing that all capitalists are afraid of: other capitalists.
Vampire Bat will be available for sale for just 2 EUR at the vernissage of the final exhibition of Round 40 of PILOTENKUECHE on 20 September, and throughout the weekend. For Sperandio’s part in the exhibition, he will hang one of the original ink and paper drawings for the comic on a dungeon-like wall he has painted in the style of a theatre set. To get just the right effect, Sperandio conducted research in Leipzig, Berlin and even Colditz. The scale and dimension of the stones mimic the Leipzig City Hall. The color is modeled after the dark basements at Colditz Castle. The nearly 1000-year-old castle became an asylum for the incurably insane in 1839. During the Third Reich, it became common practice to murder those deemed not fit to live in society.
“I’m thinking of walls as a not subtle metaphor for integration and mobility,” says Sperandio.
The American artist pointed out the irony between the Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig, which played a significant role in the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the current situation back in his state of Texas.
There, construction of a controversial border wall is in progress. As sister cities, Houston and Leipzig have complicated relationships with walls.
Sperandio will be holding a free, public workshop for grown-ups on Sunday, 22 September. The workshop will consist of a talk about the history of collage. It will also address culture hijacking and discuss hands-on experience in making comics.
Written by Huai-ya Lin
Launching at Grateful Park
Sat 20 Sept
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig
Comics workshop with Christopher Sperandio
Hijack Culture for fun and progress: a comics making workshop
Sun 22 Sept
Bergstr. 2, 04315 Leipzig