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Maria Antelman [Videonale.16] x

Stones Make the Rivers Move, 2016, 03:50 [extract: 1] min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

Maria Antelman’s work presents a succession of animated mechanical objects which appear to move independently in an ongoing dynamic process. Occasionally, a pair of hands seems to intervene and rearrange things, accompanied by a monotone but gentle computer voice. Only after a while does it become clear that the voice is reciting childlike thoughts and impressions of the world. The text is composed of phrases used by children which were documented by developmental psychologist Jean Piaget during his research on animistic thinking – a precursor-stage on the way to rational thought.

The objects in Stones Make the Rivers Move are arranged in such a way as to create the impression that they are capable of independent mental processes. You almost feel as though you could forge an emotional bond with them. Nonetheless, relation between the object initially seems completely irrational, leaving the viewer searching for a constant element which would allow them to put this childlike thought process into context. This proves difficult, giving us the feeling of being trapped in an adult logic that prevents us from entering into the imaginative perspective of a child. »Reality is built up by intelligence«, one of the statements tells us. Initially, this seems to suggest that reality is defined by a progressive rationality, making the boundary between reality and imagination all the more rigid. Yet in fact, the opposite is the case: reality should be based on subjective intelligence, with its creativity and mental agility, underpinned by a constant shift in perspectives on our environments. Stones Make the Rivers Move calls on us to practice creative thinking.

Sandra Reinhardt

The complete version of the work can be requested from the artist. 

 

Jared Buckhiester & Dani Leventhal [Videonale.16] x

Hard As Opal, 2015, 29:23 (extract 0:30)min, colour, sound [Videonale.16]

A woman stands before us wearing a strap-on dildo: »are you ready?« The question seems to be directed to her partner and to the viewer in equal measure. Hard as Opal by Jared Buckhiester and Dani Leventhal is a video work which consists in a series of rapid cuts and short scenes assembled into a collage-like whole. It takes a while before the various narratives begin to fall into place. Through careful editing, individual scenes are brought together in such a way that the stories are gradually assembled like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It becomes apparent that the protagonists are a lesbian couple and an old acquaintance from their school days who is going to help them fulfil their wish of having a child, playing the role of a kind of studhorse. The viewers are given insights into intimate scenes – some of them almost too intimate. We see a close-up of a freshly operated wound, a breeding stallion copulating with a model horse, the birth of a foal, and a man looking through a porno magazine while sleeping with a woman. Sex as pleasure between two loving individuals is contrasted with sex as a means to an end. Through the alternating images of the reproductive process, the artists create an associative analogy between people and animals, expressed using both in the content and the technical manipulation of the film.

Lara Legeland

 

Jasmina Cibic [Videonale.16] x

The Pavilion, 2015, 06:43 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

In the short film The Pavilion, Jasmina Cibic recreates the Kingdom of Yugoslavia’s pavilion from the World’s Fair in Barcelona in 1929, designed by Dragiša Brašovan. With particular focus on the construction’s facade, she raises questions concerning the relation between aethetics and politics. While five brightly dressed women construct a model of the pavilion, a woman’s voice informs us of the results of the artist’s research. The lack of information available about the pavilion led the artist to draw a connection to two works with similar designs: Adolf Loos’ house design for Josephine Baker, and the camouflaged British warship designed by Norman Wilkinson. In doing so, the film establishes a relation between three apparently unrelated objects. The black-and-white-striped pattern becomes the central visual element, a pattern which also has a deceptive quality. An optical illusion makes things with this pattern appear taller or wider than they really are, and makes it harder to judge their position. As the narrator informs us about this, as well as giving us information about the events of the 1929 exhibition in Barcelona, the viewer is given pause for thought. How does politics conquer architecture, turning it into a show of power? The work calls into question the connection between politics and the visual administration of its power. Cibic’s short film is a graphic illustration of the intimate relation between politics, power and art, emboldening the viewer to interrogate the objects presented.

Natalia Cena Wernicke

 

Yao Cong [Videonale.16] x

Under Blue, 2015, 06:38 min., colour, sound

Extreme close-up shots show human body parts which are gradually covered over with powder and makeup. The ›beautifying‹ process begins with the combing of smooth, wet hair, and the intensive application of makeup to the eyelids, eyelashes and eyebrows. Next, the lips are carefully painted in a striking red tone. Color is then meticulously applied to a face, which changes layer by layer. Unexpectedly, a new element is introduced in the form of a blue powder. The resulting image features stark contrasts, as the mouth is sprinkled with the blue substance until we can no longer see any red. After the mouth has turned completely blue, we see another body part, also buried in the blue powder. It is difficult to identify at first, especially given the extreme close-up photography. It only becomes clear as the work draws on that the body part in question is a male reproductive organ. It is gradually covered over, before vanishing entirely under the powdery covering.

Watching Under Blue, the viewer has the sense of being part of an intimate process of transformation. At the same time, the artist confronts the audience with their own preconceptions concerning femininity and masculinity. A stereotypical notion of femininity, suggested by the process of applying makeup, is interrupted by the presence of male genitalia. Instead of giving in to the impulse to sort the images into the categories ›feminine‹ and ›masculine‹, perhaps we should try to perceive a body simply as a body. Joana da Silva Düring

 

Anita Delaney [Videonale.16] x

The Cusp of Your Credenza, 2016, 10:27 [extract 1:43] Min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

A newspaper fills the whole frame before the camera zooms out to reveal the woman behind it. She folds up the newspaper, turns to face the camera, and speaks directly to the viewer. The actress wanders through a simply furnished room, coming to a halt before an object, a picture or an arrangement of objects. In the context of the carefully constructed mise en scène, she shares her thoughts on topics such as fingernails and toenails, muffins or body proportions, speaking in a slightly provocative tone. The objects which lie before her often stand in an associative relation to the words she speaks. One part of the room houses large photos of landscapes printed on canvas. In this setting, the woman, constantly followed by the camera, begins to tell us that although we, the viewers, have never been to China, nor will we ever go there, our fingernails and toenails have already been there for a long time. She explains that they have been accidentally eaten by birds, which subsequently flew to China and excreted them there. Her gestures, facial expressions and her manner of self-presentation call to mind television news or shopping channels. The actress, who reads her texts with confidence and unwavering certainty, uncritically presents a series of statistics and facts alongside dubious claims and her subjective opinion, delivering almost everything in the same tone of voice. In this way, the short film The Cusp of Your Credenza calls into question the relationship between the human body and the objects that surround it.

Randi Terjung

The complete version of the work can be requested from the artist. 

 

An van. Dienderen [Videonale.16] x

Lili, 2015, 12:00 [extract: 05:48] Min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

Where do a film’s colors come from? Or, as the chatty voiceover (a fictitious CEO of Kodak) cheerfully asks at the beginning: »Who is Lili?«

From the very beginning of van. Dienderen’s LILI, it is suggested that the name in the title refers to a procedure which has been observed over decades in the dark recesses of film studios. It is a method employed to ensure a consistent color tone throughout the production. At the beginning of a regular production, the camera is measured by placing a ›China Girl‹ with an affixed color table before the lens. The aim is to establish a skin tone that is smooth, and above all as white as Chinese porcelain.

From here, a camera style which plays with the conventions of documentary film – shaky shots, hasty zooms, out-of-focus images – escorts us into a studio situation where one of these ›China Girls‹ is going about her daily work. She is the perfect cliché – white, blond, blue-eyed. She sits smiling, posing for the camera before carrying out more menial tasks around the studio.

The commentary suggests that this is Lili, whereas in fact, she is merely an actress who embodies the stereotype. By staging authenticity in this manner, van. Dienderen’s film reproduces the artificiality inherent in the film making process, according to which what is supposed to appear natural in the finished film is in fact carefully constructed in advance. Not least, the method brought with it a serious gesture of exclusion. The practice of taking a white skin type as a reference point resulted in the distortion of other skin tones. This illustrates how a practice carried out before making a film establishes a norm, and how the supposed objectivity of the technical apparatus is invisibly shaped to fit prevailing ideologies.

Sebastian Hammerschmidt

The complete version of the work can be requested from the artist and Argos Centre for Art and Media.

 

Doplgenger, 2015 x

Fragments untitled #3, 2015, 06:20 [extract: 1,05] min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

Artist duo Doplgenger create video works which bring together art and politics. Their video Fragments untitled #3, which reworks excerpts from the 35th Eurovision Song Contest which took place in what was then Yugoslavia in 1990, is no exception. In their Fragments untitled series, Doplgenger employ the method of manipulating mass media images, as can be seen here. The work begins with various shots of a loudly applauding audience. The camera pans across the stage, showing a performance of the winning song, »Insieme«, Italian for ›Together‹. With the lines »unite, unite Europe«, the background music kicks in. A passage from the pop song is repeated over and over at reduced speed. This corresponds to a slow-motion effect on the visuals, which gives the whole scenario a threatening air. As journalists try desperately to capture a photo of the singers, the auditorium is plunged into chaos. We hear the repeated clicks of cameras, and see the corresponding flashes of light. Towards the end, the pitch of the music is drastically increased until it is little more than an almost inaudible crackling sound. Just before the moving image itself slides out of focus, we are shown close-ups of faces which resemble abstract patterns.

Doplgenger’s manipulation of the material gives rise to a turbulent, warlike atmosphere. The images of a show meant for entertainment are transformed into its opposite by Doplgenger’s manipulations. There is no pleasure in viewing the images, but rather a certain sense of unease.

Randi Camille Terjung

 

Teboho Edkins [Videonale.16] x

Initiation, 2016, 10:47 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

A portrait of the director, six years old, dressed as a Lesothan shepherd boy, forms the imaginary launchpad for Teboho Edkins’ film Initiation. The film then begins anew: in the mountains of Lesotho, the young Mosaku tells us he is waiting for his older brother to return from a five-month absence. Far from his home village, he has been taking part in a rite of passage in which young men prove their maturity. The film leaves open what this phase of initiation involved, instead showing the men returning and presenting themselves in their newly established self-identities.

The tone alternates between belonging and distance, unfamiliarity and appropriation, not least since the director, who remains constantly behind the camera, is nonetheless always involved in the events as a »participating observer«. While he manages to establish an almost tender intimacy with Mosaku at the start, this closeness is immediately relativized when the hoards of returning men identify him as a »white«. The returning young men announce their new identities in deep-voiced unison, and appear wearing sunglasses and plastic jewelry. With this, the scene spans the whole range from belonging to foreignness: from archaic male ritual to the ubiquity of globally available accessories.

Initiation ultimately amounts to a concentrated narrative variation on Edkins’ earlier work Coming of Age. This gives the film, with its themes of initiation and adolescence, an added dimension of self-reflection, making it possible to apply the themes of memory, documentation and historicity of our lives to the film itself.

Sebastian Hammerschmidt

 

Alex Gerbaulet [Videonale.16] x

SCHICHT, 2015, 28:30 [extract: 07:26] min., colour & b/w, sound [Videonale.16]

SCHICHT (SHIFT) is a documentary collage. Picture by picture, we are presented with the outline of three histories which seem to be inextricably interwoven: the history of Germany, the history of mining (centered on the Conrad mine in Salzgitter), and the history of the Gerbaulet family. The film draws an arc from the first coal mining in the 1930s to the storage of nuclear waste in the now defunct mine. It hunts down the traces and remnants of history scattered throughout the city in the form of architecture, photographs and diary entries. Director Alex Gerbaulet confronts us with a densely woven fabric of memories. In hindsight, the boundary between the public and private spheres blurs. Pictures from the family album are mixed with archive footage; autobiographical moments are interwoven with regional history and images from collective memory.

Using a combination of found footage and new material, Gerbaulet develops a rich mosaic, a kind of archeology of the everyday lives of the post-war generation. These are images which give us insights into the story behind the idyllic images of tidy front gardens from the settlements of the 1950s: the mining industry which provided the materials for the Second World War, as well as for the postwar rebuilding and economic growth; the normalized symmetrical settlements built for the workers, the individual families who lived through the economic miracle. The non-chronological fragments circle around public and private memory, revealing the hidden underbelly of the town. It was here that the Hermann Göring works dug the earth, and where concentration camp prisoners were buried in the rubble. It’s here that father worked during the day, and where mother is buried. And it’s here that nuclear waste now finds its final resting place.

Lisa Weber

The complete version of the work can be requested from the artist.

 

Miriam Gossing & Lina Sieckmann [Videonale.16] x

One Real Hour, 2016, 13:08 [extract: 1] min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

A door swings open with a creak, but there is nobody standing behind it. Traces of blood in an abandoned shower room. Stuffed animals in old-fashioned rooms with fireplaces and faded wallpaper, where a fine mist hangs in the air. These scenes, which recall the setting of a horror movie, were recorded in an ›Escape Room‹: a locked room which a group of people tries to escape by solving puzzles within a set period of time, usually around an hour. The game, carried out under constant camera observation, has recently spread to Europe, where it has become a popular leisure pursuit, especially as among businesses, who use it as a team building exercise.

The rooms are uninhabited, but they seem to have a life of their own, even to breathe; lamps flicker, and beams of light whose source cannot be identified sway back and forth rhythmically. A tense, threatening atmosphere takes hold. Liberation has been reduced to a pastime lived out in a microcosmic world modelled on tired movie clichés. The threat has to seem real while nonetheless being based on familiar tropes – even in a scenario like this, we want to feel we are still in control. The escape from the murky rooms, whose narrative form derives from familiar media like horror films and computer games, becomes a game. Played out on a stage designed to suit our expectations, heaping cliché upon cliché, the experience can only be a disappointment.At the end of the game, the participants emerge through a secret door to their freedom; the last to leave shrugs his shoulders in disappointment. The film ends here, in a moment as anticlimactic as the game itself.

Tamara Plempe

The complete version of the work can be requested from the artists.

 

Max Grau [Videonale.16] x

"[...] craving for narrative" lässt sich einfach nicht gut übersetzen, 2015, 23:48 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

We see a well-known scene from the film Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978) featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the lead roles. The same 23-second sequence is shown over and over on an endless loop. The dancing, and above all the catchy melody, are repeated again and again: we are trapped in a loop.

We are greeted by the word »hello« which fades in over the video in black writing. While we are still trying to make sense of the strange situation, text continues to appear on the screen, analyzing the loop. It tells us of the artist’s fascination with the scene in question, which has given way to an obsession. A further window fades in featuring Youtube clips, Wikipedia entries and other visual elements which point to unnoticed details hidden in the loop. They complement the written word and open up a further level of interpretation. This is made possible by the desktop-like virtual space created by the video. According to Max Grau, the footage from Grease is the point of departure for an escalating story in which personal and anecdotal themes from his private realm of thoughts are mixed with theoretical questions.

Whether we follow the tempo of the narration, devoting our attention to the anecdotes which constantly leap between themes from pop culture, nostalgia and the internet phenomenon, or whether we remain caught up in the ›loopyness‹ of the loop is down to us to decide. As engaged subjects of the narration, we are always so close to the on-screen events that a feeling of intimacy arises. Which is absurd, when you think about it: all we have to go on is some text, no face and no voice (except, of course, for Travolta’s singing).

Eva Laumen-Joeres

 

Louis Henderson [Videonale.16] x

Black Code / Code Noir, 2015, 20:50 (extract 0:30)min, colour, sound [Videonale.16]

In his video work Black Code / Code Noir, Louis Henderson documents current events, drawing out moments of historical equivalence. The resulting film assembles different material drawn from the internet in layers, creating a synchronicity in which meaningful contexts gradually emerge from what initially appear to be merely contingent combinations. Henderson underscores the disparate images of historical locations with contemporary and historical audio recordings of important figures such as Malcolm X and the actress Martha Jean-Claude from the film Simparele by Humberto Solar, but also with footwork rhythms and festive singing. At the center of the work are the deaths of two African Americans, Kajieme Powell and Michael Brown, both of whom were killed by police officers in 2014. In a collage of film material, including Youtube clips, cell phone videos and animated reconstructions of the shootings, we see the two fatal shootings, as well as the violent unrest and peaceful protests that followed them. By examining a piece of software developed to assist police officers in assessing potentially dangerous situations, Henderson investigates the role and power of such technologies. Do they make us safer, or are they a means for exercising control? Are they a significant innovation, or do they simply perpetuate and institutionalize existing racist tendencies? In his film, Henderson allows us to see time as a cycle of intense moments which unfold within fixed temporal and spatial frameworks, showing social processes in relation to the concept of enlightenment, which is shaped by history, politics and technology. Perhaps most important is the work’s insight into our present position within the timeless phenomena of racism against dark-skinned people, which extends over centuries and continents in an interminable cycle of degradation and resistance.

Anne Greb

 

Sabrina Labis [Videonale.16] x

How to Build a Mountain, 2015, 09:08 min. colour, sound [Videonale.16]

This short film transports the viewer to an idyllic mountain landscape. With the words »I’m going to show you how to create…«, the sound from a Youtube tutorial kicks in, which Sabrina Labis sets to a series of highly disparate visual material. From the initially apparently unrelated images, a symbiosis gradually emerges, creating connections which transcend the individual contents.

Mountains are symbolic of nature’s power. The contrast between natural mountains and the digital images generated by the 3D software Unity calls into question our ideas of nature and technology. It has become normal for us to create or manipulate images of mountains digitally. By integrating recorded images of mining tools and equipment, Labis succeeds in expanding the idea of human manipulation to incorporate our understanding of nature. Human beings dig tunnels, they restructure mountains with explosives and plan the construction of whole mountains to alter the weather. In the video, stone and earth, symbols of nature, meet with man-made artifacts, raising the question of the boundary between the natural and the artificial, and the relation of human beings to both. Human beings play a marginal role in Labis’ film: we see shots of hands at work and a laborer’s back; another person’s hands appear immersed in bright light. Hands seem here to symbolize the activity of forging and creating; in other sequences, they resemble the hands of a god, capable of detonating an entire mountain with a single click. The place of human beings within a world which is at once natural and artificial is gradually established as the essential theme of the work. How do human beings relate to nature’s creations, now that they are themselves creators?

Theresa Heußen

 

Alwin Lay [Videonale.16 / 2] x

Strohalm Rot-Weiß, 2014, 17:00 min., colour, no sound [Videonale.16]

Alwin Lay’s installations are almost always a matter of a kind of ›dis-illusionment‹. Many of his works violate the laws of logic and physics. Blauer Würfel (Blue Cube) and Strohhalm Rot-Weiß (Straw Red-White) are perfect examples of this. In these works, the simple processes which unfold onscreen contradict the laws of physics, while nonetheless striking the viewer as perfectly consistent. In Blauer Würfel (Blue Cube), the viewer watches as blue washing-up liquid pours out of the spout of an upside down plastic bottle, gradually spreading over a white plinth. The liquid doesn’t flow downward over the edges of the plinth – instead, it pools together in the form of a square, and gradually begins to build upwards. The glowing blue liquid, which by the end of the work has taken on the form of a cube, conveys a sense of harmony and genuine coherence. Similarly, in Strohhalm Rot-Weiß (Straw Red-White), the law of gravity seems to have been suspended, as a liquid streams out the top of a drinking straw in an empty glass. The liquid forms a constantly growing puddle around the glass. Lay plays with the viewer’s expectations by creating scenarios based in his own reality with its own rules, allowing a unique perspective on things. He works with everyday objects, heightening the strangeness of the surprising phenomena which dispel our preconceptions, and challenge us to see things differently. The static camera shots give the viewer plenty of time to observe the events on screen, allowing us to gradually make sense of them, and to be ›dis-illusioned‹ in regard to our expectations.

Anne Greb

 

Alwin Lay [Videonale.16 / 1] x

Blauer Würfel, 2015, 10:00 min., colour, no sound [Videonale.16]

Alwin Lay’s installations are almost always a matter of a kind of ›dis-illusionment‹. Many of his works violate the laws of logic and physics. Blauer Würfel (Blue Cube) and Strohhalm Rot-Weiß (Straw Red-White) are perfect examples of this. In these works, the simple processes which unfold onscreen contradict the laws of physics, while nonetheless striking the viewer as perfectly consistent. In Blauer Würfel (Blue Cube), the viewer watches as blue washing-up liquid pours out of the spout of an upside down plastic bottle, gradually spreading over a white plinth. The liquid doesn’t flow downward over the edges of the plinth – instead, it pools together in the form of a square, and gradually begins to build upwards. The glowing blue liquid, which by the end of the work has taken on the form of a cube, conveys a sense of harmony and genuine coherence. Similarly, in Strohhalm Rot-Weiß (Straw Red-White), the law of gravity seems to have been suspended, as a liquid streams out the top of a drinking straw in an empty glass. The liquid forms a constantly growing puddle around the glass. Lay plays with the viewer’s expectations by creating scenarios based in his own reality with its own rules, allowing a unique perspective on things. He works with everyday objects, heightening the strangeness of the surprising phenomena which dispel our preconceptions, and challenge us to see things differently. The static camera shots give the viewer plenty of time to observe the events on screen, allowing us to gradually make sense of them, and to be ›dis-illusioned‹ in regard to our expectations. 

Anne Greb

 

Erik Levine [Videonale.16] x

Still Lifes, 2016, 27:40 Min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

A Latin American song plays over blurry images. At the beginning of Erik Levine’s film Still Lifes, we are overcome by a feeling of rapture. Almost as though we were gradually coming to our senses from a deep sleep, we begin to see the outlines of people going along a corridor. After a brief pause, the artist wordlessly invites us to contemplate his ›still lifes‹. Transposed into the role of curious observers, we wander through a retirement home in Argentina, where we are introduced to the residents. Sometimes we get so close to them that we feel uncomfortable – not least because the artist is confronting us with our own impermanence. At the beginning, the camera immediately draws our attention to the age-spotted face of a sleeping woman, still covered by a thin layer of makeup. This proximity, which initially seems almost shameless, gradually allows us to form an increasingly close bond with the film’s protagonists. For example, we watch sympathetically as an elderly woman tries repeatedly to open a locked door over the course of several minutes. These everyday scenes, immersed in sonic textures which sound both ethereal and familiar, are rhythmically interrupted by redundant sequences in which we observe the seniors watching television. We then see dream-sequence portraits of these individuals. These surreal scenes create an entirely new context, a microcosmos of the remembrance of times gone by. With Still Lifes, Levine has not only succeeded in depicting the process of human aging with empathy and aesthetic prowess; he has also created a film art work that is both sonically and visually highly varied and carefully structured, resembling a piece of classical music.

Milena Rosa Vasovic

 

Randa Maroufi [Videonale.16] x

 

Le Park, 2015, 14:00 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

In Randa Maroufi’s film Le Park, a long tracking shot guides the viewer through an overgrown theme park in Casablanca, where they encounter a range of different young people in a series of highly fluid scenes. The youths are shown in everyday situations, but also embroiled in violent disputes. The film thematizes the violence between young people and their presence on different social media platforms. In a series of long shots in which the youths appear to be frozen to the spot, we see them coming at each other armed with dangerous weapons.

The film begins with a shot of a palm lined street, accompanied by the ambient sounds of the street and a radio broadcast about the supposedly criminal activities of young people on social networks. Subsequently, we hear a series of radio reports, as well as the voices of various young people who talk about wanting to be ›real‹, and discuss the right way of staging photos. The camerawork and the recorded conversations give the viewer the feeling that they will soon be confronted with an horrific violent event, an event which never actually occurs. Violence and brutality are hinted at, but remain hidden beneath the surface of the work. The images of the abandoned park, with its rusted and weathered equipment becomes a symbol for a broken youth, for whom the staging and actual carrying out of violence have become a way of venting their frustration.

Josephine Halbach

 

Jennifer Mattes [Videonale.16| x

Trading Stories - A Cargo Named Desire, 2015, 41:56 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

»If you want to be immortal, find someone to write a story about you« Trading Stories – A Cargo Named Desire advises us. It is the only way to achieve permanence in a world of constant change. Jennifer Mattes’ work tells a story about stories that travel through the world like containers on a freight ship. The artist herself boards a cargo ship to recreate a voyage undertaken by her great grandfather, who travelled from Hamburg to Qingdao – a passage which has since become an important trade route. The narrator’s soft voice leads us from scene to scene, with intermezzi featuring various different people. She allows us share in her reflections on romantic love, truth, time, death, memory and forgetting. The viewer sees a couple as a message in a bottle – a love letter – floats towards them; or a sailor who carries out his work – painting the anchor’s chain – to the sound of radio chatter from countless ships. In this way, private stories are woven together and placed in a globalized framework. In this context, it soon becomes apparent that the search for any one story is equally a search for many interconnected stories. By combining documentary footage of her voyage, found footage from the internet and various sound and text fragments, Mattes takes the viewer on a journey through a vast world that is both private and profoundly public. Her hodgepodge assembly of video fragments tells a multifaceted story about stories themselves, allowing us to enter into the narrative and lose ourselves: »Imagine you were a story. What kind of story would you be?«

Deborah Lorenzo

 

Rachel Rampleman [Videonale.16] x

Bodybuiler Vignettes, 2016, 02:00 min., colour, no sound, 10-channel video intallation

Female Identity and the Cult of the Body: Marginal Figures at the Center of the American Dream.

The ten decoratively arranged screens of the Bodybuilder Vignettes give us an insight into an unfamiliar world where professional female bodybuilders proudly flex their muscles. In the background, dynamic light installations emphasize the lithe, precisely rehearsed movements with which the women display their bodies. The videos show the same sequences of movements over and over again, so that we constantly notice new details. The steeled bodies of the women initially seem anatomically identical to male bodies. Only a few of them are shown full face. It is primarily the long hair and bikinis they wear which tell us that they are women. Is it a matter of bodies as purely functional objects which everyone can form and toughen as they wish, regardless of whether they are male or female? Or a glamorous and abstract homage to ›woman‹ and female body awareness?

In her work, Rachel Rampleman casts an impartial and sympathetic glance at the women who contradict the established clichés concerning femininity. They play with the established gender boundaries, showing up overlapping characteristics. This play is a matter of female identity and the cult of the body, and of marginal figures at the center of the American dream. The artist succeeds in a multifaceted illumination of American traditions, stereotypes and gender roles. The installation leaves space for a play of ideas, astonishment and fascination. Rampleman’s work is open to interpretation – not to judgement, but rather to observation and contemplation: a sensitive, tolerant and nonetheless ambivalent insight into a world in which strong women lay claim to their place.

Sandra Reinhardt

 

Michael Robinson [Videonale.16] x

Mad Ladders, 2015, 09:45 [extract: 2:21] min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

Mystical background sounds and a densely clouded sky – this is how the short film Mad Ladders by artist Michael Robinson begins. The artist himself describes the work as »a modern prophet’s vision«.

The Visual material stems from performances at the ›American Music Awards‹ from the 1980s and 1990s. Yet the artist distorts the sequences so heavily that we can barely make out the sketchy figures on the screen, and the geometrical forms of the stage props resemble abstract patterns. The breaks between the different narrative segments are alternatingly announced with black screens and shots of a densely clouded sky. In the process, the simple yet dynamic 8-bit soundtrack takes on a hypnotic quality. Together with the voiceover narration, Robinson has created a work poised between destruction and change, immersing the viewer in a dream world. The narration speaks of joy and beauty, but also of destruction and fear. It comes as no surprise that the work should alternate between experiences of fear and pleasure, since all of Robinson’s works are concerned with themes such as change, transformation and reshaping. With its alternating mobile sequences, piercing colors and exhilarating sounds, Robinson’s work draws us in, revealing to us a new level of reality. The work addresses the theme of change without showing it in either a positive or negative light. Instead, transformation is seen as a way of drawing nearer to truth.

Natalia Cena Wernicke

The complete version of the work can be requested from the artist.

 

Stefan Panhans [Videonale.16] x

Freeroam À Rebours, Mod#I.1, 2016, 16:13 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

Stefan Panhans’ Freeroam À Rebours, Mod#I.1 takes as its point of departure various shortcomings in the behavior of videogame avatars controlled by human players. These ›failure scenarios‹ are transposed onto the bodies of real performers, and recreated in the medium of film. Such ›failed behaviors‹ by game avatars – including displacement activities, idling behaviors, repeated failures to perform an action, the imperfect approximations of human movements and gestures – are generally considered to be the result of inadequacies and inability, especially in a society shaped by the pressures of functionality, economic imperatives and (self-)optimization. At the interface between experimental film, videoclip, performance and contemporary dance, Panhans’ film reworks these ›mistakes‹. It shows dancers and actors who have analyzed and rehearsed the flaws in the algorithmic patterns of avatar movements, caused by the moments of uncertainty or lack of concentration in the people controlling them. The performers ›reenact‹ these mistakes against backdrops and scenery borrowed from videogames, interspersed with sequences from the games. The camerawork closely echoes the ›camera‹ movements typical of videogames, and the performers interact with both their environment and the camera operators, whose movements form part of the choreography. The digital electronic music, composed especially for the film, resembles videogame music; together with the special montage editing techniques, it gives this engaging choreography of failure an underlying rhythm. As such, Panhans’ film gives expression to an artistic form of performative resistance ›à rebours‹ for our contemporary social situation, against the goal of functionalism.

Anne Greb

 

Lucy Pawlak [Videonale.16 /1] x

We Eat the World / The World Eats Us, 2016, 16:31 (extract 03:04) Min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

We see a panting dog; there is a ticking sound in the background; a man crouches in a building excavation; the surroundings are dry and stony. A voiceover comes in. The man straightens up, moving with raw and wild gestures. Together with the narration, his dancing tells a story. In total, we are introduced to six different characters whose lives are interrelated, though the connection is only a superficial one: a stripper is worshipped by a writer who is fleeing from his marriage through the endless sexual adventures he finds online. His wife reflects on her husband’s infidelity at a distance. The other three characters seem to make do with anonymous and virtual erotic fantasies and confused flights from reality.

The stories tell of individuals driven by their urges, which are staged as tragi-comic, and embody an unconscious fear: the fear of the emptiness which is temporarily held at bay by fleeting yet intense contact and unreal dream worlds. The feeding of a hungry ego in a world which resembles a building site – raw and fallow. They tell of fantasies, obsessions and no-strings-attached sex, encounters which are all-consuming, but utterly devoid of intimacy. Is this a consequence of our fast-paced, digitized era? Do we really know one another? Lucy Pawlak’s work investigates different communication technologies which are readily available, but which fail to establish real interpersonal contact. A flight from the here and now. Physical contact which remains superficial, and merely fulfils the emotion needs of an ego turned in on itself, encounters which are nothing more than a series of short moments of satisfaction.

Sandra Reinhardt

 

Lucy Pawlak [Videonale.16 /2] x

Arriving Without Leaving (Garanteed Happy Ending), 2013, 10:11 min, colour, sound [Videonale.16 special project]

With the help of shaky video footage which calls to mind the virtual reality of a first-person shooter videogame, Lucy Pawlak’s Arriving without Leaving (Guaranteed Happy Ending) creates a space located between fiction and reality. The camera creates a connection between the viewer and the on-screen protagonists by following the perspective of the on-screen avatar, whose oversize papier-mâché hands are visible at the bottom of the screen. A mechanical voice explains the rules of the game, giving us instructions and letting us choose between alternatives using a game menu which appears intermittently on the screen. We are told to make use of real objects while watching the screen, making it possible for the viewers to experience sensory impressions which correspond to the story unfolding in the film. But the façade of a complete fusion of reality with the virtual reality of the game is repeatedly deliberately interrupted. When the interaction which the video demands of us turns out to be impossible, the medium is revealed to be a fiction. »Why can’t you reach?«, a woman asks us after we fail to reach a rope she has instructed us to pick up. »Let’s have a cocktail«, she suggests, dropping the glass before our eyes.

At the very latest by the point our counterpart loses her arm in a fight without any visible opponent, the video confronts us with a question concerning the difference between external influence and autonomous decision making. In the typo-ridden language typical of computer games, she tells the viewer »Step back! Roll! Hit! It was another game«, and holds the stump of her arm up to the camera. The dismantling of the virtual world culminates as our hands are ripped off and burned. »What are you made of?« – we are addressed directly, and when we are instructed to »run«, we are brought crashing back to reality, and to questions about the structure of our very own games – life, without a guaranteed happy ending.

Annika Artmann

 

Steve Reinke [Videonale.16] x

A Boy Needs A Friend, 2015, 22:00 min., b/w & colour, sound [Videonale.16]

In his video essay A Boy Needs a Friend, Steve Reinke takes us on a journey through his thoughts, truths and feelings. His voice addresses us without ever speaking directly to us. At first glance, it seems the focus of the video is homosexual relationships between men and intimate queer friendships. Yet it soon becomes clear that the video also addresses the themes of circulation and processuality which play a central role in several of the artist’s works. A continuous loop of an animated circle that completes itself, falls apart and then builds itself again is shown while the artist talks about his wedding with his partner and the associated anxieties. The mythological figure of Ouroboros, an ancient symbol of cyclical repetition, appears as a tattoo both around the anus of one of the artist’s sexual partners and on Reinke’s own leg. Needle point images appear on screen and gradually form patterns. These are only a few of the video’s scenes which thematize development, circulation, and repetition, thereby representing constant progress. The video belongs to the series Final Thoughts which Reinke intends to continue expanding for the rest of his life – a kind of eternal process in its own right. For him, thoughts can never be thought through to their end; they can always be rolled out anew and developed further. The video’s heterogeneous material underpins the idea of the processual. The collage-like collection of ideas resembles an ongoing work in progress; private smartphone videos, found footage, animations, graphics, photos and texts are all woven together. Every time you feel like you’re getting to grips with it: CUT. Black background, white lettering, a new clip, new ideas. The images and sound are often unconnected, with only Reinke’s words establishing the context.

Leonie Bauer

 

Julia Scher [Videonale.16] x

lip sync, 2015, 03:47 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

The spirits that I called…

In her video work lip sync 2015, Julia Scher shines a light on the contradictory feelings that arise in the face of 21st century surveillance – from voluntary posing in front of the camera to the desperate and hopeless attempt to flee back into the private sphere. Against the backdrop of an apparently unassuming office corridor, we become observers and witnesses of a deliberately amateurish performance of Miley Cyrus’ »Wrecking Ball«. Scher uses the verses and choruses as points of orientation, though her performance develops a narrative of its own. The work is part of a series of earlier works of the same name by the US-American artist. Unlike her earlier works, however, this video turns into a game of cat and mouse between the camera and the protagonist. The home movie aesthetic gives the performance an intimate feel, yet the omnipresence of the viewer, embodied by the camera operator, punctures this privacy. We only catch fleeting glimpses of this camera operator, who stands in for the anonymous audience to whom the artist exposes herself. At the same time, the LED-illuminated everyday world of the office building removes the performance from the safety of the familiar environment that this kind of performance seems to demand. The apparently unassuming woman, who initially enthusiastically moves her lips and body in time with the music, soon begins to flee the camera. At first, she is brave enough to turn her back on her pursuer. Gradually, she sheds her naivety, becoming increasingly distrustful of the camera for which she had previously so willingly performed. An urgent reminder that the threat behind the camera often seems more harmless than it really is.

Marie Hunanyan

 

Sanaz Sohrabi [Videonale.16] x

Disposables, 2015, 07:09 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

In the film Disposables, an anonymous narrator attempts to give an account of his observations during and after a political uprising. Ultimately, his attempt to process and write down his diary-like fragments of memories ends in failure. In addition to the dystopian descriptions of the voiceover, we see fourteen performers dressed in muted colors in a brightly lit white room. The performers don’t simply illustrate what is being said; rather, their drastically slowed-down physical movements build up associative connections with the spoken words. If at the beginning they seem to be frozen in the moment of falling, struggling to keep their balance, by the end, they resemble a fixed arrangement of sculptures. The constructed body images connect up with the fictitious reports, operating both inside and outside of the narrative.

In her work, Sanaz Sohrabi investigates the role of the photographer and the documentary character of photography. She explores the contexts which give rise to motifs, making use of the typical gestures of political photography, manipulating the story behind the photo, and staging anew the immediate build up or aftermath of the moment. Disposables also addresses how personal memories are taken up into the collective memory of a whole society, and how these memories are both assimilated and instrumentalized by institutions. The work draws our attention to the fleeting character of our experience, and its minimalistic approach calls on the viewer to play an active role. Disposables opens up a large space for contemplation and interpretation. It is an invitation to make use of our own imaginations.

Justus Lambrecht

 

Susanne Wiegner [Videonale.16] x

Future of the Past, 2015, 07:07 min., colour, sound [Videonale.16]

Susanne Wiegner’s 3D computer-animated film Future in the Past takes viewers on a journey through virtual spaces populated by familiar objects and places that have been decontextualized and estranged from their proper place. Ships sail on a two-dimensional sea before falling over the edge; empty trains pass by electricity masts which tower up out of the water; terraced houses resemble artworks exhibited on scaffolding while lines the tracks, inaccessible and disused. The camera gradually zooms out, revealing that each of these spaces is merely a small part of a far larger scene. The spaces turn out to be open, peephole-theater type installations which are constantly transformed into new, larger spaces, in which earlier motives and objects are repeated. At the end, we return to the bathroom we began in.

The visuals of the film, realized using computer graphics, recall the paintings of Edward Hopper with their sobriety, chilly voids and clear lines. The film refuses any simple interpretation. Perhaps the nested rooms symbolize the different layers of consciousness and of individual thoughts, and the film is an attempt to visualize how the conscious and the unconscious intermingle and shape one another. The surreal rooms recall the incoherence of dreams, where the rational order of things is turned upside down, and thoughts and ideas are torn from their context, becoming symbols woven into the world of the subconscious mind, difficult for the waking mind to fathom. Wiegner’s work impressively demonstrates how perspectives which we take for granted can be called into question by gradually revealing their larger context.

Tamara Plempe

 

Moira Zoitl [Videonale.16] x

Außer Sichtweise - ganz nah, 2015, 20:00 min, colour, sound [Videonale.16]

A town in the middle of a scenic mountain landscape: Salzburg, 1825. Johann Michael Sattler’s (1786-1847) detailed panorama of the town allows the observer to immerse themselves in the Austria of the 19th century. In her work Außer Sichtweite – ganz nah (Out of Sight – Close Up), Austrian installation and video artist Moira Zoitl transforms sellers of the street newspaper »Apropros« into elements of the painting. Sellers with varied backgrounds stand motionless before the painting while speaking in a voiceover about their experiences and understanding of work. They talk about the increasing lack of jobs, life as an economic refugee, or the social status of street newspaper vendors. The protagonists are all shown once in the clothing of Sattler’s time and once in contemporary dress. In the process, a series of portraits arise against the backdrop of the Austrian landscape. The connection between the stories and the individuals – that they all work for »Apropros« – is visualized at the end of the film in a short tableau vivant.

The film seems to be a play of opposites: past and present, the static medium of painting and the moving image, 19th century costumes and contemporary clothing. This opposition is also captured in the title: Out of sight – very close. Some things and some people seem to be out of sight, set apart from the broader populace, and nonetheless very close. Work becomes a timeless theme; whether street newspaper seller or famous artist, in the end only one thing seems to matter: »I feel happy, and that’s surely the most important thing in life«.

Lara Legeland

Videonale.16 (February, 17 – April, 2, 2017 at Kunstmuseum Bonn)

2339 submissions (from 84 countries)

43 selected works

PERFORM! was the theme of the competition and festival program of the VIDEONALE.16 ̶ Festival for Video and Time-Based Arts. In its earliest forms, performance as an artistic gesture was an act of liberation – a rejection of the role models and expectations of the art establishment. Yet today, performance has increasingly come to stand not for freedom of expression, but rather, for the imperative to act. Be it through our constant interaction with digital devices, within which we leave behind traces of ourselves; or through the relentless demand placed on individuals to present themselves online, and to optimize themselves as economic subjects – in all of these ways, our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously, have become ongoing performances. Our movements increasingly take the form of choreographed displays in public spaces, over which we have only limited control.

This implies, on ...  [ weiterlesen ]

2339 submissions (from 84 countries)

43 selected works

PERFORM! was the theme of the competition and festival program of the VIDEONALE.16 ̶ Festival for Video and Time-Based Arts. In its earliest forms, performance as an artistic gesture was an act of liberation – a rejection of the role models and expectations of the art establishment. Yet today, performance has increasingly come to stand not for freedom of expression, but rather, for the imperative to act. Be it through our constant interaction with digital devices, within which we leave behind traces of ourselves; or through the relentless demand placed on individuals to present themselves online, and to optimize themselves as economic subjects – in all of these ways, our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously, have become ongoing performances. Our movements increasingly take the form of choreographed displays in public spaces, over which we have only limited control.

This implies, on the one hand, constellations of control and compulsion; and yet on the other hand, it signals entirely new possibilities for participation in social, political and artistic processes, as well as new forms of interaction, communication and manipulation, all of which can be put to creative use. In the process, the borders between real and virtual space, performer and audience, the observer and the observed are becoming increasingly blurred. How does this influence our relationships and communication, our interaction as social and political subjects, our actions in the public sphere? How does the performative imperative alter our perception of our own bodies and minds? When are we performers, when the audience, when our own choreographers? When is performance simply another word for conformity, control and reaction? And finally: under what circumstances can performance still be an expression of experimental, creative and, occasionally, subversive action?

Curator: Tasja Langenbach

The Videonale Award was received by Randa Maroufi („Le Park“). An honourable mention was given to Louis Henderson („Black Code / Code Noir“).

More information at: v16.videonale.org