Fieldwork in Religion, Vol 13, No 1 (2018)

Performance, Landscape, and Shamanism in Werner Herzog’s Of Walking in Ice

Giselle Bader
Issued Date: 15 Oct 2018


This article examines Werner Herzog's 1978 diary Of Walking in Ice (Vom Gehen im Eis) as fundamental in establishing his eccentric public persona as an artist. His decision to walk from Munich to Paris in an effort to save Lotte Eisner's life is read as a shamanic performance. Herzog records this performance as an incantation played out across the magical backdrop of the Germanic forest, its periphery, and towns along the way. His performance speaks to the connection between himself and Eisner, of the importance of continuity in art, and of the artist's role as an outsider. Ultimately, the publication of Herzog's performance allows for a permanent shift in his public persona.

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DOI: 10.1558/firn.35568


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