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Shimon Attie [Videonale.13] x

Racing Clocks Run Slow, 2008, 18 (7:26 - 10:32) min., stereo, colour [Videonale.13] [extract 7:26 - 10:32 min.]

A row of static figures is displayed before of the viewer's eyes. The figures are clad in various types of motor sports’ garb. In a tableau vivant, they hold the characteristic poses of the race circuit: a racing driver jubilantly raising up his winner’s bottle of champagne, the race starter lifting up his checkered flag and the pit crew mechanics holding their tools. Shimon Attie films seventy individuals who once were involved with the legendary American Bridgehampton Race Circuit, which closed in 1994. These are not actors: they are actual participants and spectators from the circuit, wearing their authentic race clothing and gear. Attie also uses snippets of original audio recordings made at the circuit during the 1970s. Yet the authenticity of the outfits and the plausibility of the gestures produce an effect far removed from a typical documentary. The total immobility of the figures, frozen in the poses most typical of their roles, transforms them into a set of miniature toy figures, inhabitants of a Lego world. In a similar manner to the way that children create imaginary social environments, adults continue the process of construction of social identities. It is simply the scale of the adults' toys, rather than their essence, that differentiates them from children.

Olena Chervonik

 

Anna Baumgart [Videonale.13] x

Fresh Cherries, 2010, 18:00 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

Documentary footage, reconstructed and authentic interviews, as well as fictional narrative contribute to Anna Baumgart's video on the issue of the tabooization of the victims of WWII. Baumgart observes that women in general – and especially women who were forced into sex work or who were sexually abused by soldiers on both sides – have been generally denied the right to participate in the production of war narratives. The artist has solicited the aid of Joanna Ostrowska, a Polish university student researching the history of prostitution in the German concentration camps in Poland. Based on Ostrowska's findings, Baumgart reconstructs two interviews with Frau W, a German woman who was coerced into providing sexual services for prisoners in the Buchenwald brothel, and with Barbara, a Polish woman raped by Russian soldiers. Baumgart also creates a fictional account of a sexually abused woman going through a course of Bert Hellinger’s psychoanalytic systemic therapy, whose main working method encourages the victims to speak about their traumatic past. Baumgart's video performs a similar therapeutic role, as the artist creates a space for the previously stifled female voices to become a part of the narrative of war.

Olena Chervonik

 

Adela Jušić [Videonale.13] x

Artist's Statement, 2010, 7:27 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

Adela Jusic presents herself in semi-profil, as in a baroque painting. Her face and address are directed towards the audience, especially towards creative people. By using a traditional painterly language – the lighting, the dark background, the harmony of colors – the painting and its meaning gain in seriousness and credibility. She has copied the sentence “Avoid comparing yourself to other artists” from a website that offers creative people help with self-promotion. Jusic regards this offer and its use as significant for today’s society, where even creative people are subjected to marketing concepts. Nevertheless, questions of marketing are also important to her and so she asks herself: “What kind of prospects do today’s artists have?”; “Who is the artist today?” Or, to be even more precise: “What kind of meaning does an artist have in our society?” The artist is reflected in a double projection and speaks alternately. She faces the spectator at a distinct remove, and thus has come a long way from earlier generations of artists. For example, Marina Abramović singled out the commercialization of art scene as a central theme for one of her video performance in 1975. She combed her hair for such a long time that the skin started to bleed, repeating over and over the same words: “Art must be beautiful, artist must be beautiful”.

Elisabeth Wynhoff

 

Jane Jin Kaisen & Guston Sondin-Kung [Videonale.13] x

The Woman, The Orphan and The Tiger, 2010, 76 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

There is a Korean folk belief that at the site of an unjust mass burial, the phosphorus smoke that streams out of the ground stands for the grief and rage of the tortured souls who never received their last rites. The story of the ‘ghost flames’ becomes one of the metaphoric nods that Jin Kaisen weaves together in order to talk about the traumatic events in South Korean history, namely the various groups of women and children victimized and silenced during several South Korean military engagements of the 20th century. Through documentary footage, interviews, and poetic narratives, Kaisen presents the stories of three generations of women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the Second World War, who have been providing sexual services to the US military bases from the 1950s till present, and who were adopted as small children and taken to countries in the West. The stories of their lives often remain on the margins of the greater historical narratives. However, their trauma tends to manifest itself in the country's social mentality as the ‘ghost flames’ that haunt the nation. Thus Kaisen turns the medium of video into a ritual of purification, providing a voice to the unheard and restoring the social health of South Korean society.

Olena Chervonic

 

Katarzyna Kozyra [Videonale.13] x

Summertale, 2008, 19:59 (2:47) min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

The idyll is too perfect – a summer garden and a country house occupied by female dwarves with blond braids, who wear traditional costumes. They apply themselves to house- and garden work. One night, three huge mushrooms spring up and a man in red rococo-like clothes climbs out from one of them. From the others emerge a red-haired beauty in heels and a creature in overalls whose gender remains undefined. The guests are treated well and the sexless creature is given some girl’s clothes to wear. But the hospitality soon turns into displeasure when the dwarves hear the man’s singing and see his untidy room. They poison him, but the girl brings him back to life. The red-haired beauty is also observed with suspicion, and when one of the dwarves discovers splashes of urine and shaving equipment on the floor of the bathroom, they are not so sure anymore of her femininity: what woman doesn’t sit down to pee? She and the man are then captured and brutally slaughtered. Order is restored, but the girl is inconsolable. Standing on the balcony, she throws seeds on the ground, and new mushrooms spring up, while the dwarves disappear.  “Summertale” is the last part of Kozyra’s series “In Art Dreams come true”, in which some characters appear repeatedly in various genres. Fairytales, costumes and sex changes, with their inherent questions of identity and stereotyping are typical of Kozyra’s works, even if not all of them end up in tragedy.

Elisabeth Wynhoff

 

Erik Levine [Videonale.13] x

Cocker, 2010, 16:20 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

In his work, Erik Levine focuses on the symbols and rituals of masculinity. He explores them as explicitly embodied in sports. After analyzing the norms of the more usual team sports in earlier works, in Cocker he attends to cockfighting. Levine leads us into a raw, masculine game of life and death, of power, pride and honor, played by men who cheer on their champions as if they were risking their own lives. In many places, cockfighting is banned, but in some countries it is still practiced and has a long tradition, like, for example, in Puerto Rico, where Cocker was filmed. For weeks, Levine visited different galleras, the places where the fighting cocks are raised. He didn’t just record the fighting itself: it’s more about the men and their relationship to the animals and about the rituals that evolve around raising the cockerels and preparing them to do battle. By reducing the pictures to single gestures, he impressively captures the intense relationship between man and bird. Levine’s shots don’t document or comment, rather they develop their own poetry between proximity and distance. The poetry not only communicates the fascination, but ultimately also the ‘otherness’ that strikes us when we peer into this archaic world.

Tasja Langenbach

 

Henrik Lund Jørgensen [Videonale.13] x

Friends he lost at sea, 2009, 5:36 (4:00) min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

The opening of this video introduces a man in a museum, who is sitting, contemplating a collection of paintings by Michael Ancher, a Danish artist known for his realistic portrayals of the fishermen from port of Skagen. Suddenly, the camera switches from the representation of a museum scene to the portrayal of the man's memory. As if being planted into his brain, the camera projects the man's vision of two of Ancher's paintings coming alive. In a tableau vivant, the viewer sees a representation of Ancher's Will He Round the Point? (1879) and the Crew is Saved (1894). The man's vision features one notable difference from the Dutch original: in the place of the heroic Danish fishermen, the man envisages people of various ethnic backgrounds staring pensively into the vastness of the sea or being rescued from a shipwreck. The man's inner monologue, filtered through the female narrator's voice, reveals the man's trauma of dislocation and of isolation from those he holds dear. However, by the substitution of the Danish fishermen for a group of mixed ethnicities, the friends that the man lost at sea come to be understood metaphorically as refugees lost to emigration. Thus Jørgensen 's video serves as a springboard for considering the issues of escape and survival, of intimacy and the rupture of personal connections triggered by social mobility and dislocation.

Olena Chervonik

 

Melanie Manchot [Videonale.13] x

Celebration (Cyprus Street), 2010, 10:20 min [5 min excerpt], colour, sound [Videonale.13]

 

“Celebration (Cyprus Street)” continues and, at the same time, highlights a series of works where Melanie Manchot deals with documents containing historical photographic group portraits. For centuries, group portraits in painting and photography have functioned as representations of societal relationships and networks, in which the depicted urban settings are  crucial in determining the contextualization of the things depicted. Manchot picks up on this principle in “Celebration”.

 

The camera sweeps almost casually across the scene, taking shots of the mixed crowd at the street party, which Manchot has organized in cooperation with the residents, giving the spectator the time to get an impression of the street’s denizens. In this crowd, the houses remain façades. But for decades, these buildings simultaneously have been the existing backdrop for those who have moved within and without their walls. It’s the houses that have created the true identity of the street. The glimpse into the microcosm of the street finally culminates in a group portrait for which the inhabitants come together on the street, little by little, raising their faces towards the camera. Thus composed, they remain still for some time surrounded by the sudden silence, and leave the camera to do its job of capturing them as a document of both their time and of their street. For the short duration of this portrait, they linger there in collective closeness. 

 

Tasja Langebach

 

Celebration (Cyprus Street) is commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and funded by Film London (Digital Archive Film Fund) and Arts Council England.

 

Helena Öhmann McCardle [Videonale.13] x

I remember, 2009, 09:04 min., sound, b/w [Videonale.13]

Language seems to be the worst medium with which to represent our past. Its linearity and its causal narrative logic often does not correspond to with the chaotic structure of our memories. McCardle explores the medium of video to create memoryscapes that better represent the way we perceive, construct, and store our lived experiences in our heads. Although in I remember the artist attempts to talk about a repressed episode of her personal history, the appropriation of somebody else's video material suggests the existence of some archetypal patterns that we all have in common. Behind the uniqueness of our experiences there lies a universal longing for love and acceptance, as well as fear and the desire to escape – a dichotomy that perpetually generates the tension between the need to remember and the need to forget. The dreamlike sequences of McCardle's work with their surreal frame transitions are punctuated with lines of text that do not explain the images but rather emerge between images, set against a black background. Thus, language functions as a parallel reality that often proves insufficient to express what we feel and remember.

Olena Chervonik

 

Anahita Razmi [Videonale.13] x

Walking drunk in high shoes, 2010, 47:22 (17:15) min., colour, sound

A camera placed at a very low angle shows, from the waist down, a woman's body clad in a red dress, black tights and black heels. The figure in the background contrasts with a bottle of vodka stationed in the proximity of the camera’s eye. The woman starts walking towards the viewer, following the trajectory of the wooden floor planks that frame the whole videoscape in a one-point perspective. She walks back and forth, twice, in a straight line, as if providing a reference point against which the following movements will be judged. Starting on her third run, the woman stops in the foreground, takes a sip of vodka and returns to her initial position. The camera’s eye transforms into a voyeuristic peephole, as the viewer observes the woman getting progressively more drunk. She gradually loses her balance, starting to writhe and cringe, thus revealing more of her body and her face. At some point it becomes apparent that it is the artist herself who is acting out the scene. Paradoxically, the viewer discovers the identity of the actor only after her upright position collapses under the weight of inebriation – a telling suggestion that true subjectivity can only be revealed at the time of its utmost vulnerability. Razmi's work refers back to both Bruce Nauman's explorations of physicality and space exemplified in his video “Stamping in the studio” and Tracy Emin's monoprint “Walking Drunk in High Shoes”.

Olena Chervonic

 

Reynold Reynolds [Videonale.13] x

Six Easy Pieces, 2010, 7 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

Time is the elusive entity that quietly percolates through our fingers. We have to impose a rhythmic order upon our existence – the sound of a clock, music with its beats and pauses, the ticking of machinery – since only this order allows us to sense the pulse of time as it flows. Reynold Reynolds uses “Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher”, a book by renowned physicist Richard P. Feynman as the scientific foundation for his artistic exploration of the issue of time. The artist juxtaposes imagery of scientific inquiry various measuring instruments and chemical equipment with organic matter, fish, flowers or with a human body, whose life span will inevitably come to an end, despite all of humankind’s scientific achievements. The video is inundated with traditional symbols of memento mori: mirrors that hint at the transitory nature of beauty; books that stand for the vanity of knowledge or a roulette wheel that reminds us of the unpredictable nature of life and death. Reynolds, a former physicist himself, mixes together imagery of transformation and decay to stimulate the viewer's contemplation of the issue of time and to show that artists and scientists often prove to be accomplices in the process of making sense of the world.

Olena Chervonik

 

Mireia c. Saladrigues [Videonale.13] x

Projecte E/F, 2008, 14:20 Min., Sound, Colour [Videonale.13]

What is provincialism in art: is it dealing with local issues or is it being a bad artist? Is art a collective or personal endeavor? Does institutionalization of the practice of art bring better funding to artists or does it also curtail artists' freedom of expression? Mireia Saladrigues raises myriad questions related to the logistics of the functioning of art in her staged conversation between three young Spanish people who are sharing their breakfast in the setting of an art studio. The interlocutors cite the material that Saladrigues has gathered through thirty interviews with various players on the Spanish art scene: artists, curators, critics, and employees of various cultural institutions. Using the sociological methodology of gathering and analyzing information to produce her video piece, Saladrigues thus comments on the nature of the process of contemporary art, which has become a discursive practice. An artist has ceased to be a seer confined to an ivory tower and has instead been transformed into a social agent who generates artistic meaning in the process of networking.

Olena Chervonik

 

Georg Tiller [Videonale.13] x

Vargtimmen – After a Scene by Ingmar Bergmann, 2010, 6:20 (1:00) min., sound, b/w [Videonale.13]

Courtesy Sixpackfilm

Shot by shot, Georg Tiller and his camera man Claudio Pfeiffer have reconstructed the dramatic child murder scene from Ingmar Bergmann’s 1968 “Vargstimmen” (“The Hour of the Wolf”). In black and white, the viewer sees the sea and its sharp cliffs, the horizon and the soft, rippling surface of the deep waters. The camera’s motion and framing reference and exactly mimic those of its famous predecessor, the essential difference being that no actors are to be seen. The shots are accompanied by the original soundtrack by Lars Johan Werle. The work makes the viewer aware of the film’s projection screen, its film noir stylings and the moment of reception. Although the camera movement and the music provide a certain narration, the absence of actors and language opens up the meaning. Thanks to this reconstruction, the stylistic elements, representation and the context of the observer – their observations and experiences – represent not only formative elements of the film, but also offer new possibilities of interpretation.

Lukas Harlan

 

Maria Tobola [Videonale.13] x

Self-portrait with mother, 2009, 1:52 min., no sound, colour [Videonale.13]

A still frontal shot opens up the scene with an image of two well-dressed women in a tender embrace. Their resemblance, reinforced by the title of the piece, leads the viewer to identify them as mother and daughter. This perfect picture is completed by setting of the middle-class affluence: the floral upholstery on the sofa and the flickering of the fireplace generate the feeling of safety and snugness of a family country house. The viewer is lulled by the stereotypical representation of family happiness until the moment the women start kissing. Their prolonged sensual mouth-to-mouth exchange surpasses all filial-parental expectations. All of a sudden, the initially perfect picture catapults the viewer into the realm of the taboo of incest. Where is the line between healthy familial affection and sexual abuse? Practically every culture regards sexual relationships between people related by blood as both a social taboo and a criminal offense. However, the degrees of affection vary considerably between cultures: in some, parents share a bed with their offspring and exhibit other types of close physical contact; others are characterized by a larger emotional and physical distance between parents and children. Maria Tobola asks the viewer to consider the boundaries of permissible parental affection and decide whether it is possible to harm someone with too much love.

Olena Chervonik

 

Adam Vackar [Videonale.13] x

Improvement, 2009, 5 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

A long line of people is waiting in a large warehouse setting for what appears to be a casting call. The video sequences alternate between wide, panoramic shots of a warehouse interior filled with typical backstage film paraphernalia: stage lights, make-up stands, camera equipment and close-up scenes of actors going through a set of metamorphosing procedures: new make-up, hairstyle and costume are supposed to transform them into different characters. Yet what is the role they are preparing to play? The people in the video do not look like professional actors, and after their transformation they look nothing like a coherent set of film characters. Borrowing from conventional film-making vocabulary, Vackar brings together a number of homeless people who undergo a set of transformative procedures turning them into ‘normal’ people. After their changeover is completed, Vackar's actors remain motionless under the spotlights, modeling their ‘normality’. However, their new looks seem to be insipid and unimaginative compared to their pre-transformation appearance. Have they really been improved? Who has the power to establish the hierarchy of tastes and decide what constitutes the aesthetic norm – and what deviates from it?

Olena Chervonik

 

Claudia Waldner [Videonale.13] x

Fliegenschwimmen, 2009, 6:18 min., sound, colour [Installation documentation] [Videonale.13]

The video installation “fliegenschwimmen” represents the desire to fly, an act that is not possible underwater – a sense of freedom that has, nevertheless, been constricted. “fliegenschwimmen” dares to step beyond the tacit boundaries of the formats prescribed to video art. A somewhat complex and elaborate installation consisting of 24 monitors brings a fresh approach to the current ways that video and cinema are projected. Old CRT displays meet the computer era by means of digital input and high-resolution graphical material. The interplay between the binary opposites is also projected through the content, namely the confrontation of opposing emotions. The imagery emerging from a combination of water, expressed feelings and the flickering of the monitors makes up the poetry of “fliegenschwimmen”. The video installation convincingly illustrates a dramatically emotional, black-and-white sensation through multifaceted shades of gray. The central motif of this video work has emerged in close cooperation with the feature film “Der böse Onkel” (The Wicked Uncle) by Urs Odermatt. It focuses on the coming-of-age of daughters, the pursuit of freedom from maternal influence and the conflicts associated with this struggle. The media artist Claudia Waldner`s visual world of imagery, successfully interwoven with the stylistic devices of Odermatt`s language, creates a morbidly poetic world view.

Sara Izzo / Michael Hunziker

video credits:

Text: © Urs Odermatt. Aus dem Drehbuch zum Spielfilm DER BÖSE ONKEL, www.urs-odermatt.ch 

 

Rachel Perry Welty [Videonale.13] x

Karaoke Wrong Number, 2010, 5:52 min., sound, colour [Videonale.13]

Similar to the aesthetics of a mug shot, a woman in a plain white t-shirt, simply-done hair and no make-up sits against a stark blue wall. She confronts the viewer with an austere and impersonal gaze. The eerie stillness of her body is suddenly interrupted by the click of an answering machine. Through a meticulous synchronicity of mimicry, exactly following the pauses for breath and for swallowing, the woman mimes to nine callers recorded on an answering machine, with their various agendas of apologizing, ordering food, trying to send a fax or requesting billing information. No matter how perfectly the woman lip-synchs to the messages, the viewer becomes instantaneously aware of the incongruity: the nine voices, most of which are male, could not possibly belong to the woman on the screen. The artificial synchronicity of the voice and the body reveals an underlying fissure between personality and appearance. The viewer is forced to wonder about the woman's true identity. She could be a medium capable of channeling other people's spirits or an automaton, an intricate contrivance with no active intelligence of its own. Artist Rachel Perry Welty takes on the cast of nine characters suggested to her by nine wrong-number voice messages recorded by her phone, commenting playfully on the issue of the construction of identity.

Olena Chervonik

Videonale.13 (April 15 – May 29, 2011 at Kunstmuseum Bonn)

1760 submissions (from 76 countries)

48 selected works

Curator: Georg Elben

The Videonale Award was received by Nate Harrison („Aura Dies Hard [Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Copy]”).

More information at: v13.videonale.org