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Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler [Videonale.17] x

Anubumin, 2017, 18:00 min., colour, sound [Videonale.17]

In Nauruan, Anubumin means »night«—and darkness is what the fourth joint film by Zanny Begg and Oliver Ressler begins with. The small and inconspicuous island of Nauru with close to 10,000 inhabitants lies in the Pacific at a great distance to the mainland. But Nauru is a tragic place steeped in history that has been overwritten by numerous narratives. The film addresses these different narratives, starting with the early exploitation of the island and its calcite and phosphate deposits by the colonial powers in the 19th century. After the golden 1970s, when the »Birdshit island« was flush with money, the phosphate was completely mined and the island state soon became insolvent. Since then, Nauru has turned into a gloomy place: 80% of the area is uninhabitable; the attempt to tap new sources of income led to the wide-scale practice of money laundering. And Nauru is still controlled from the outside, since the island houses an Australian ›offshore‹ detention camp for refugees—for those who according to Australian law come to Australia illegally and thus forfeit the permission to migrate. In the film, four whistleblowers who worked there as doctors and nurses talk about the inhumane conditions in the detention camp which is run by a private Australian organization.

The aesthetic framework is formed by a recited poem by Matthew Hyland and Oliver Ressler that puts into words the gloominess surrounding the island and reveals the corrupt dealings of the Australian government. The poem is accompanied by secretly filmed images of the area—filming is forbidden in the detention camp—that stand in stark contrast to the poetic nature shots with which the documentary images are interspersed. In combination with the spoken word, these vague, collaged images are charged with a powerful meaning: That which is concealed due to the corrupt secrecy that is upheld, reveals itself in the mode of not showing and is intensified in its tragedy by the atmospheric landscape shots. How do images convey conflictual conditions to the viewer? What do we believe—the words, the images, which images? And what effect do these words and images unfold as components of an artwork?

Miriam Klauke


Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet [Videonale.17] x

Tiefenschärfe / Depth of Field, 2017, 14:30 min., colour, sound [Videonale.17]

The scene of a crime is still a place. Nuremberg is still Nuremberg, even if National Socialism and the National Socialist Underground (NSU) have cast a dark shadow on the city. In their documentary approach, Bernien and Gerbaulet seek to grasp the complexity of history. They show places connected to the three murders that the NSU committed in Nuremberg between 2000 and 2005 and expand the narrative to include the dimension of the entire complex.
While a narrator outlines the individual fates, gives an account of the authorities’ misconduct, who presumed that the perpetrators were to be found in the surroundings of the victims, and problematizes the ensuing media reports and the stigmatization of the victims as criminals, the German and Turkish languages mingle with Bavarian dialect. Everyday accounts of the victims are juxtaposed with low points in the German history of Nuremberg: » Nuremberg, city of the Reichsparty convention. Nuremberg laws. Nuremberg under attack. Nuremberg process.«
The artist duo unfolds a multiple narrative that seeks to do justice to all dimensions. Media-related, personal, and national histories overlap, just like the views of the city that are shown either directly or as reflections on opaque windows.
Depth of Field thus replicates the structures of the crime on a visual level as well, whose complexity is revealed through the spoken narration circling around the locations. The scenes gradually lead to a picture of a city whose building facades show no visible traces of the violent crimes that took place there. Only the tilting image frame, a central stylistic means, visualizes the disruption of normalcy and the collapse of daily life when violence erupts.

The artistic documentary film is the first collaboration between the two artists and adapts journalistic methods to question historical coherence and continuity.

Jana Bernhardt


Chto Delat [Videonale.17] x

It Hasn't Happened To Us Yet. Safe Haven, 2016, 36:24 min., colour, sound [Videonale.17]

Finally arrived. After several hours on the open sea, the beacon light is now as close as ever. We are safe here. In the ›safe haven‹. A place of peace, tolerance, acceptance. Here, the laws of freedom, community, and helpfulness prevail. Just a few hundred meters along the island’s stony path and we will reach the beacon.
It Hasn’t Happened To Us, Yet. Safe Haven is a film by Chto Delat, a collective of artists, philosophers, and writers from Russia. The film describes the fictive story of a group of fleeing artists in a ›safe haven‹. These are actually existing refuges for artists who are politically persecuted or have to leave their homeland for other reasons. In twelve sequences, the film vividly shows what life could be like there in scenes filmed in a performative and documentary style. The work is presented as a projection of two image channels, creating an ongoing dialogue between two images or between image and text section. The only musical accompaniment is the singing of the island hymn. A mood arises that is pleasant or also oppressive, depending on the situation and commentary.
In spacious landscape images of the small Norwegian island, the film creates an almost meditative monotony that strongly contrasts the life of the refugees which is dominated by oppression and persecution. And yet the welcoming culture of the natives also expresses latent violence: Learning a hymn gives the refugees a task, but it also demands their adaptation to the island’s dominant culture. Expectations regarding the refugees are formulated. With some of the artists, a feeling of alienation and lonesomeness sets in, partially caused by no longer sensing the inner need to express oneself in art, as was the case before their flight. The ambivalence of the artists’ situation becomes ever more pronounced: security comes at the price of feeling culturally insecure and foreign.

Mara Heineke


Saara Ekström [Videonale.17] x

Amplifier, 2017, 17:30 min., b/w, sound [Videonale.17]

Black-and-white, grainy, and static 8mm shots show the massive Olympic stadium in Helsinki, Finland, which was completed in 1938. The listed sports venue has been under reconstruction since 2016 and is to open again in 2019. The sound track, to which the title of the work refers, amplifies and distorts minute, hardly perceptible sounds to a soundscape that equals the image.

Ekström interweaves the shots of the functionalist architecture and the utopian idea of a structure from a bygone era with those of a masked dancer (Heikki Vienola) who with his body and movements explores the site. The rigid, lifeless architecture, the venue robbed of its function, the derelict shell of the stadium being renovated, with its cold, inorganic building material, is confronted by the lively, sublime body of the dancer. The work queries the relationship and interplay between man and thing, calmness and activity, past and future. The camera repeatedly focuses on traces that humans have left behind: the partially dismantled wooden bleachers, empty workplaces, smoothed spots on otherwise untreated rocks.

Ekström uses the analog camera as a medium of exploration to reflect on temporality, forgetting and remembering, but also deception and illusion. She has individual sequences played backward in the video, creates spatial illusions via split screen, and triggers associations through edits, for example, between close-ups of bullets and holes in the rocks on the stadium construction site. The playful dealing with reality is taken to extremes by filming little conjuring tricks: a key appears out of thin air; a fossil turns into a clock, into a rock; a Finnish medal decomposes to dust. The cold stadium structure is transformed into a surreal place charged with symbols. The scenario appears as a hybrid between dream and reality, reinforced by unmistakably clear sounds and the futuristically masked dancer, whose movements remind one of avant-garde character dance or non-Western dance styles. Behind this is also the question of our identity. What remains? What is our past, present, and future?


Alexandra Südkamp


Johan Grimonprez [Videonale.17] x

Raymond Tallis - On Tickling, 2017, 8:00 min., colour, sound [Videonale.17]

Dozens of couples dance in a circle, a house topples down a slope, a cat manically revolves around itself. A few seconds beforehand, an admonishing voice points out that a centuries-old philosophical assumption is under close scrutiny. It is René Descartes’ first tenet, »I think, therefore I am,« that the British neurologist Raymond Tallis calls into question in the video by the artist Johan Grimonprez. Tallis takes the view that human consciousness is not an individual construction but exists above all in relation to a vis-à-vis. He therefore states: »We dialogue, therefore we are.« The scientist underscores this view with the observation that certain sensations can only be triggered by others. For example, it is not possible to tickle oneself. Tallis furthermore refers to politics and love in order to explicate that we exist in permanent interdependency with others. Film recordings of a heated debate in which two speakers angrily thrust a round table at each other’s chests support the thesis that aggression also belongs to the human feelings requiring two parties.
Time and again, the viewers are moved back and forth between a vivid dream reality and the making of the interview between Johan Grimonprez and Raymond Tallis. In stylistic terms, Grimonprez, as in earlier works, hardly offers narrative reference points. In a continuous flood of images, the need to recognize an ordered narrative structure remains unfulfilled. Instead, something meaningful can be discovered in associations: circular motions, oval and rotating forms can be found in almost every image. Seemingly scientific image and archive materials are juxtaposed with Tallis’ statements, giving the impression that essential questions pertaining to consciousness ultimately remain unanswered against the backdrop of technological progress and oftentimes quantifying science.

Riccarda Hessling


Adam Kaplan & Gilad Baram [Videonale.17] x

The Disappeared, 2018, 46:00 min. [extract 2:00 min.], colour, sound [Videonale.17]

In their work The Disappeared, the artists Adam Kaplan and Gilad Baram reflect on the feature Hane’elam (The Disappeared) from the year 2000, produced by a chief army officer of the Israeli army. The film, which was almost completed at the time, drew attention to the rising number of suicides among soldiers, but it was censored before completion and is available today only via the memories of the participating actors, crew members and advisers. Pointing to this censorship, the work by Kaplan and Baram merely shows a black or white background. But at the same time, the artists utilize the most timeless and limitless force to generate images: imagination. Without a picture limiting one’s imagination, the individual voiceover statements are brought to the fore. The emptiness of the screen is intensified by contrasting subtitles. The work is set to the original film music by Eldad Lidor and starts and ends with a recitation of the last scene of the original script. In between, memory accounts of the actors and actresses who participated at the time (among others, the leads Lior Ashkenazi and Nataly Attiya), views of the Spokespersonʼs Film Unit that supported the production personnel-wise, legally, and financially, multiple perspectives from the Israeli society as well as numbers and facts on the Israeli military – among others the rising number of suicides – condense to a complex view on the film’s historical and social background. The institutional and overall social impact of the film is open to speculation due to the early censorship. The work of Kaplan and Baram, however, demonstrates that memories cannot be censored, but that they can indeed be revived.

Lena Hortian


Stéphanie Lagarde [Videonale.17] x

Deployments, 2018, 16:14 min. [extract 5:00 min.], colour, sound [Videonale.17]

We control the game. The demonstrators on the screen are not just our avatars, they are fighting for their and thus for our rights. They demand a society without corruption and crime, a life in freedom. Virtuality becomes part of our own reality. And the imagined place could be anywhere.
Déploiements shows how a system of control in a state functions on both a physical and psychological level. The video draws parallels between two types of simulation: a team of fighter pilots mentally preparing for an aerobatics show and a crowd control software often used by the police for training purposes constructing a civilian mob. The composition of video game aesthetic and military recordings of soldiers is guided off screen by militarily coded commands. Crowd control is represented in the computer simulation of an empty city. As soon as the mouse cursor appears over the imagined city, a click adds a straight line of identical police officers to the scene. They are faced with a crowd of demonstrators marching toward them with placards stating their demands.
What Lagarde’s work makes clear is the tension between the rehearsed choreography of authoritarian order and emphatic civilian disorder. The movements of the police follow a pattern, like a dance performance, while the demonstrators seek to disrupt this order to gain control of the streets. Déploiements not only questions the social situation but also practices media critique. »I see you«, whispers the off-screen voice, alluding to surveillance in public space, but also to the transparency of our own identity in the social media.
Lagarde’s computer animation represents a centuries-old fight between government authority and protesters. Not only in Paris today, demonstrations often lead to riots, excesses, and injuries. Are we the ones who actually control the game? Or are we just tokens in a surveillance system to which we must defer?

Diana Storcks


Maryna Makarenko [Videonale.17] x

Jellyfish, 2017, 23:12 min. [extract 7 min.], colour, sound [Videonale.17]

Water—the source of life, a vital part of our bodies, alterable, and yet always present. This most original of all elements is the basis of the performance that is shown in the film Jellyfish by Maryna Makarenko. Water’s indeterminable form and wealth of variants symbolize the existing gender fluidity of our society.
The markedly calm video imbued in blue light shows several persons moving about in a water basin, each at their own speed, repeatedly touching and harmoniously interacting with each other. The sound track features 25 different statements from interviews on the subjective experiences of perceiving one’s own gender, interwoven with atmospheric music. Due to the multifacetedness of these perceptions, the speakers implicitly demand that society should abandon binary gender categories, while also outlining the possible consequences of such an utopia.
In addition to the metaphorical and pictorial level that lets the notion and alteration of one’s gender appear just as natural and limitless as water, Makarenko also allows the viewers to experience its harmonious undulations on a technological level. Not only Lukas Grundmann’s atmospheric music underscores this flowing mood, but also the combination of picture and sound track. The effect is achieved not least by the fact that the two tracks are slightly offset. It is precisely at the points where image and sound approach each other that the demand to liberate oneself from existing categories comes clearly to the fore. These moments in which the performers almost synchronously repeat the voiceover statements show to what extent current recipients may perhaps lack openness.
The work Jellyfish was continued and further developed by the sound performance Tuning of the World. During and after the film presentation, sounds recorded by a hydrophone, sounds generated for scientific purposes, and live sounds of, with, and through water are com- bined to form an ambient soundscape.

Lena Hortian


Andrew Norman Wilson [Videonale.17] x

Ode to Seekers 2012, 2016, 8:30 min., colour, sound [Videonale.17]

Welcome to a tour through the corridors of horror! Welcome to a world that is no more than a deserted institution in which the traumatic destruction of human consciousness is rewarded, where we are ultimately nothing other than colorless objects, caught in endless loops of the capitalist perversion of modern power relations, trapped in fear and dependency. We float, remote controlled, through the corridors of our consciousness, flooded by perceptions, waiting for the next injection.
Created on the basis of personal experiences, the video piece conceived as an infinite loop by Andrew Norman Wilson conveys a deeply sincere revelation, an allegorical depiction of the subjective inner truth about our existence, about the destabilization of individuality. Situated in a field of tension between past, present, and progress, between real and surreal, steadycam shots are mixed with pyrotechnics, computer-generated imagery, and 3D animations.
Inspired by John Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn (1820), Wilson adapts visualization strategies from classical literature. He divides his video into three parts in which leitmotifs, subtopics, and agents act together and reflect complex mental structures. Mosquito, syringe, and oil pump are the central carriers of meaning here, allegorically associated with illness, susceptibility, and the addiction to consumption. Wilson deliberately refrains from direct critique. The artist instead opens up a broad field for interpretations with his gloomy sarcasm, integrating the viewers and making them participating observers of the events.
The notion of endlessness is conceptually supported by dispensing with opening and closing credits. The musical accompaniment is contrary to the gloomy outlook. While the pop song I Love It can be heard in the background, the mosquito, the syringe, and the oil pump celebrate the joy of consumption, with the lyrics having the effect of a sarcastic complement.
Illness, addiction, consumption, smoke whose full yellow reminds one of sulfur. Ode to Seekers 2012 is characterized by a poetic visualization structure, dynamic sequences, allegory, and rhythm.

Ivon Valchanova

VIDEONALE.17 (21.2.-14.4.2019)

1.136 submissions (from 66 countries)

29 selected works (from 20 countries)

Competition Jury
Eli Cortiñas (artist), João Laia (independent curator and writer), Tasja Langenbach (artistic director Videonale), Matteo Lucchetti (independent curator and co-director "Visible Project", Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Fondazione Zegna), Vanina Saracino (independent curator), Lesley Taker (producer/curator FACT Liverpool)

Artists VIDEONALE.17
Monira Al Qadiri, Eric Baudelaire, Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet, Andreas Bunte, Shu Lea Cheang, Marianna Christofides, Chto Delat, Mike Crane, Saara Ekström, Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani, Mahdi Fleifel, Johan Grimonprez, Laura Huertas Millán, Su Hui-Yu, Sohrab Hura, Adam Kaplan & Gilad Baram, Stéphanie Lagarde, Maryna Makarenko, Deimantas Narkevičius, Stefan Panhans, Laure Prouvost, Morgan Quaintance, Maryam Tafakory, Eva van Tongeren, Tris Vonna-Michell, Clemens von ...  [ weiterlesen ]

1.136 submissions (from 66 countries)

29 selected works (from 20 countries)

Competition Jury
Eli Cortiñas (artist), João Laia (independent curator and writer), Tasja Langenbach (artistic director Videonale), Matteo Lucchetti (independent curator and co-director "Visible Project", Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Fondazione Zegna), Vanina Saracino (independent curator), Lesley Taker (producer/curator FACT Liverpool)

Artists VIDEONALE.17
Monira Al Qadiri, Eric Baudelaire, Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet, Andreas Bunte, Shu Lea Cheang, Marianna Christofides, Chto Delat, Mike Crane, Saara Ekström, Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani, Mahdi Fleifel, Johan Grimonprez, Laura Huertas Millán, Su Hui-Yu, Sohrab Hura, Adam Kaplan & Gilad Baram, Stéphanie Lagarde, Maryna Makarenko, Deimantas Narkevičius, Stefan Panhans, Laure Prouvost, Morgan Quaintance, Maryam Tafakory, Eva van Tongeren, Tris Vonna-Michell, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Andrew Norman Wilson, Tobias Zielony

Award winner Videonale Award of the fluentum collection
Sohrab Hura with The Lost Head & the Bird

Special mention
Stefan Panhans with HOSTEL


As the philosopher Raymond Tallis affirms in Johan Grimonprez’ Raymond Tallis: On Tickling (2017), “We dialogue, therefore we are.” The video is one of 29 works by contemporary international artists selected for VIDEONALE.17 – Festival for Video and Time-Based Arts, which will be shown as from February 21, 2019 at Kunstmuseum Bonn.

Tallis’ words play on René Descartes’ famous dictum, “I think, therefore I am.” But they also raise a number of crucial questions explored in the exhibition, such as: How do we dialogue with one another today? Who speaks to whom and through which media? What reality (or realities) do we speak about and how do I recognize the reality of my interlocutor? And what artistic strategies are currently being developed to create alternative points of view, and to integrate new perspectives?

Selected from over 1,100 entries from 66 countries, the works featured in VIDEONALE.17 address such questions in line with the festival theme of REFRACTED REALITIES.

In optics, “refraction” refers to the bending of a beam of light, a change in direction which occurs at the moment when it passes from one medium to another. Through refraction, the light wave alters course, changing the way we perceive the objects it illuminates in the process. This optical deviation requires us to repeatedly correct our gaze, comparing the beginning and end points of our perception with reality, and bringing the object we see clearly into focus.

In its figurative sense, refraction refers to a critical reflection on the means and channels of visualization, and by extension the possibility of a rearticulation of our view of things – how they are, were, or apparently always have been. The technical medium of the camera lens, which frequently mediates between us and the things we perceive, plays a central role here, since it significantly influences the degree of refraction. It can act to concentrate light waves in a single direction, or to deflect and realign them. It can provide new images for old narratives, or create new narratives with new images.

What possibilities exist to allow media in general, and artistic media in particular, to engage critically with their own dominance? What artistic strategies are currently being developed to create alternative points of view, and to integrate new perspectives? Which visual languages are available to the artist? And how can we use these languages to enter into dialogue again and discuss how we see things, saw them or apparently always have seen them?

“Visibility is not transparency. Rather (…) visibility is itself a claim that must be carefully examined: in acknowledging what is seen, and newly seen, we need to be equally vigilant about what is not seen, or no longer seen.”
(from: Paula A. Treichler, Lisa Cartwright, Constance Penley, “Introduction: Paradoxes of Visibility.” In: Treichler, Cartwright and Penley (eds.), The Visible Woman. Imaging Technologies, Gender, and Science. New York and London 1998, p. 3)

Artistic director
Tasja Langenbach

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