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NOW - What Markus Zohner is up to



Update: 22 June 2024, 14:37

In Munich. This year’s spring in Ticino has been colder than usual and thoroughly rainy. The holes in the roof of the small mountain cabin, caused by the tree that toppled over in early April, are still only patched up temporarily. I hope to be able to deal with everything at leisure from the end of July.

First, a few days here in Munich to sort out the last books and help my mother with packing the boxes. Just four weeks until her move to Switzerland.

The main focus in these last weeks before the summer is completing the large book about the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020: TOTENTANZ – La quarantena. Over 520 pages, over 600 photographs, and over 100 pre-orders. Book launch on the 24th of September in the cantonal library of Locarno. Editing, corrections, photolithography, graphical fine-tuning, and corrections, corrections, corrections. A few pre-publications in the coming weeks in our newsletter.

Yesterday was St. John’s Day. Solstice. Christmas is on the horizon.

Re-reading: Gabriel García Márquez’s memoir Vivir para contarla (Living to Tell the Tale)

Before the upcoming thunderstorm: off for a 7K run around the Kleinhesseloher See!

Update: 16 May 2024, 16:45

On Train from (Munich-) Zurich to Lugano. After nearly ten days, I’m travelling back to a waterlogged Lugano, where the highest flood alert has been declared following the heavy rains of recent weeks.

My time in Munich was a blessing, a reminder of the transformative power of experiencing different, larger worlds, immersing oneself in one’s native language, and spending entire days at the Haus der Kunst1 with Rebecca Horn2, the Brandhorst Museum3 with Alex Katz4 and in Cy Twombly’s Rosensaal5.

I had travelled to Munich for various reasons – one of them was the impending relocation of my mother to Lugano in the summer, which necessitates joint decisions and preparations on all levels. But there was another important reason for the trip as well: the final meeting with my improvisation group. In 1992, we first offered a theatre improvisation course in Munich, teaching to create stories, scenes, and plays, continuing to work with the (same) group once or twice a year.  Now, 32 years later, we have concluded it. A significant chapter has been drawing to a close, a tearful farewell to friends after over three decades of shared, profound, and intense exploration. A whole lifetime.

Heading south, the train hums through mountainous landscapes steeped in deep green from the abundant rain, and I cling to the hope that at least the unspeakable casino in Lugano, the LAC, and perhaps even Mario Bottas’s horrible casino in Campione d’Italia6, which also serves as a brothel, have been swallowed up by the floods of the overflowing Ceresio.

Reading:  Johannisnacht (English title: Midsummer Night) by Uwe Timm, Infinite Jest by D.F. Wallace

Update: 19 April 2024, 15:41

In Lugano. Naturally, the roof is damaged. Two weeks ago, the hurricane uprooted a tree, which, obeying 1) Murphy’s law and 2) the law of the falling toast 1, landed on the cottage roof. It’s a total loss; appointments with foresters and the roofer are scheduled. The silver lining is that I must drive up the mountain to the cabin more often in the coming days and weeks.

Spring sweeps across the lakes and mountains here, in all its capriciousness. The magnolias have long since faded; the temperature has dropped again, the jumpers are out of the closet, I put on my sunglasses but forget to wear my jacket, catch a cold, and find myself unable to run for a week.

There are numerous meetings, team discussions, and a multitude of questions about new topics and, importantly, their formats. It’s no longer just about theatre; it now encompasses books, podcasts, radio fiction, and conferences. Each of these media formats has its production laws, partners, and audience. The driving vision behind them needs to be strong; that’s what we’re working on now.

A few days ago, I climbed Monte Boglia with a friend, the mountain visible from my studio. The view from the top is breathtaking—across to Lake Como, into the Po Valley, to the mountain ranges in Piedmont, Valais, and German-speaking Switzerland, and northward to Monte Ceneri and Graubünden. It’s five kilometres from Brè Paese to the summit, with an elevation gain of 700 metres. Next week, I plan to try trail running on the route.

Reading: Infinite Jest by D.F. Wallace

Tonight: 8k

Update: 1st April 2024, 12:17

In Lugano. Last night, a formidable storm raged over the town, achieving peak velocities of over 100 kilometres per hour. The gales tugged and shook the century-old edifice. Lying wide awake in my bed, it seemed as though everything might dissolve instantly and disperse into the winds, reminiscent of certain macabre children’s tales. I harbour hopes that the cabin nestled in the mountains remained intact and that the severed branches and toppled trees have narrowly missed their mark. In the following days, I’ll ascend and conduct an inventory.

These days, my primary focus is correcting and finalizing the Traugott manuscript destined for the book LA QUARANTENA. Time is increasingly pressing as the date of publication draws near.

Reading: Infinite Jest by D.F. Wallace, and I Remember by Joe Brainard.

The bothersome cold, which has had me in its clutches in recent days, has at last abated.

My running goal for April is 10 hours, plus a greater distance than my brother, to clinch the challenge. 300k by the end of June. And, come October: a half-marathon in Locarno.

Update: 16th March 2024, 07:19

In Munich. The city whence I hail. One of my Heimaten. This marks one of my final visits back home, as my mother is set to relocate to Lugano in the summer. Henceforth, returning home to Munich will be a thing of the past, except visits akin to that of a tourist, ensconced in hotel chambers, with breakfast included.

Thus, a few interjected days here now, packed with familial photo documentation, visits to exhibitions, and theatrical adventures. Engaging in long conversations with my mother, orchestrating her impending relocation.

With the onset of the initial COVID lockdown in 2020, our troupe was forced to suspend rehearsals for a new theatrical piece intended as the prelude to a trilogy entitled TOTENTANZ. Zoom was then in its nascent stage, and during one of these pioneering online meetings, we resolved to metamorphose the theatrical venture into a forty-day improvised live-writing project: LA QUARANTENA. In short, now we are diligently collaborating with the graphic designer Edy Ceppi1 to transmute the resultant narratives, images, and audiovisual recordings into a book2. Release date: 24 September 2024 at 6:15 pm, at the Cantonal Library in Locarno.

Everything has transformed here in Munich; my childhood recollections of the city are pallid and empty. The populace has increased marginally, yet today, when the sun comes out, the English Garden is crowded. Colours appear oversaturated, and queues outside luxury boutiques or delicatessens seem interminable.

Tomorrow, I shall take a few laps around Kleinhesseloher Lake, the aim: 6k.

The temptation persists to augment this blog and enrich the posts with photographs and links, yet the notion of focusing solely on words continues to resonate with me. It should not increase into a travelogue nor serve as promotional material for any projects, but rather a concise sharing of inner and outer circumstances of what is unfolding.

  1. The layout is nearing completion: 444 pages. The proofreaders have just commenced their task ↩︎
  2. in Italian ↩︎
  3. by 200,000 inhabitants over the past 55 years ↩︎


Update: 8th March 2024, 17:35

Back in Switzerland, now attempting to shake off the images, the dust, the winds, and the whirl of travel from the mind, thus trying to refocus.

Long meetings with the Core Team regarding our work’s current and future content.

Over the past two years, we have been heavily engaged with Naturarchy, exploring the (including legal) right to the existence of nature. Last year’s lengthy conversation with James Bridle, which is still awaiting its release as a podcast 1, collaboration with the JRC in Ispra, and participation in PRO HELVETIA’s Synergies call for proposals. For 2025 – 2028, several theatre productions on Naturarchy are planned; we are convinced that this is an essential topic for humanity now and in the long term.

The developed films with the images from Greece have returned: the new old Ferrania 33 film washes out some shades of grey, creating a kind of minor chord. I am glad for the images. Every time the films return from the lab, it is a discovery and, above all, a realignment for the following photo vision.

I continue to work on a more extensive text; more on that as soon as there is more to share.

Fresh snow is covering the surrounding mountains. The Magnolia starts flowering.

Reading: Infinite Jest by D. F. Wallace.

Yesterday, I did an 8k run almost to the prison.

    1. We produced the podcast “BORDERLINES – Markus Zohner meets James Bridle” on behalf of a literature festival. Unfortunately, the festival has thus far been unable to realize its publication. ↩︎


Update: 17 February 2024, 22:12

At this moment, I am on a lonely Island in Greece, walking in solid winds, watching high waves and eating fish. There are few people around, and electricity comes and goes.

Besides writing and reading, I am focussing on the company’s different publishing platforms, trying to sketch a concept and the workflows for the growth of our newsletter and online magazine and personal blog.

I am much into (film) photography in this period, so I am roaming around with an analogue reflex camera on my shoulder, loaded with slow black and white film. And, in the evenings, I dream about the outcome of the shots I took during the day, which I’ll get back from the lab in three weeks’ time.

Next week, I’ll be back in Lugano for two days; the calendar will be full of appointments and working sessions with our core team, Luca and Elisabetta. Then, I’ll depart to Southern England to see my godmother, who lives in a beautiful cottage in the countryside, and take the loneliness of the place and the calm to concentrate on the conception of upcoming writing and theatre projects.
It is fantastic: I can board a train in Lugano at 06:30 am and arrive in Suffolk at 6:30 pm1.

What should I talk about to the youngsters of the Commerce school in Bellinzona at the end of March? Since I got invited to give a talk on „To live an unconventional life beyond norms and conventions“, I am trying to figure out what unconventional life might mean concretely.

  1. through Zurich > Paris > London

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