How much do we know of the past? And what determines our view of past? Is there such a thing as a collective memory? Do we remember our own experiences or do we recognise the visual tradition? This selection of films delves into the blind spots of our history. Both politically and personally. Cultural icons are extras in a fairy tale. A prison break is turned into an opera.
Sharing a Beautiful Sunset – Jasper Elings
The Netherlands, 2009, video, 01:12 min
Synopsis: Sharing a Beautiful Sunset, a video composed of shared sunset photos found with Google image search.
Everyone Has to Get Over His Biography – Yael Assaf
The Netherlands, 2008, video, 19:20 min
A journey in which we come across people, stories and mind states, only to lose them again. The memories and stories of the main characters are sometimes really theirs, but could sometimes also be everybody else’s. Put together by using different techniques and styles, including documentary and Su- per8 home movie material, and stop-motion and collage animation. Graduation film Rietveld Academie 2008.
After the Empire – Elodie Pong
Switzerland, 2008, video, 13:50 min
Zurich-based video artist Elodie Pong is known for her subtle, analytic works focusing on how human relationships and cultural conventions impact contemporary society. In After The Empire, Pong orchestrates face-to-face conversations between various late icons of popular culture and political history, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Batman, and Karl Marx. Surrounded by a post-apocalyptic set, the actors embody their character’s individual and symbolic extremes, longings, and ideals in simultaneously humorous and elegiac ways.
Untitled (Remake) – Stefans Tsivopoulos
Greece, 2007, video, 14:08 min
In Untitled (The Remake), 2007, Tsivopoulos turns to archive material from the years of the 1967 dictatorship and the early years of Greek State Television. He organises the artwork on three levels: on the first level, he employs material from the official celebrations of the Colonels and festivities in the Athens Marble Stadium. On a second level, he shoots the technical equipment then used in the Hellenic Radio television (ERT) studios for the production of news bulletins. Finally, on a third level he elaborates on some sequences that have been saved from the rehearsals of news bulletin broadcasters of the period and stages a precise appropriation with the use of actors. Such a triple structure attributes multiple meanings to the title: Remake. On the one hand, it is a rethinking on the possibility of the reconstruction of reality and the fundamental role technique plays in this process. On the other, it is a comment on the propaganda mechanisms of the regime and the reversed, from the supposedly existing, association between reality and its documentation in the news. What is more, the title Remake highlights the deep roots of contemporary political, television discourse in the typology, clichés and ideologies of the dictatorship era.
Attica – Manon de Boer
Belgium, 2008, 16 mm > video, 09:55 min
In this work music again plays an important role. The work is based on the composition
of the same title by the American Frederic Rzewski which was written in 1971. The film tries to give a visual and auditive echo to the political subject of Rzewski’s composition. On these works Rzweski wrote the following text: “Coming Together” was written in November and December of 1971 in response to a historical event. In September of that year inmates of the state prison at Attica, New York revolted and took control of a part of the institution. Foremost among their demands was the recognition of their right “to be treated as human beings.” After several days of fruitless negotiations, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state police to retake the prison by force on the grounds that the lives of the guards whom the prisoners had taken hostage were in danger. In the ensuing violence forty-three persons, including several of the hostages, were killed and many more wounded. One of the dead was Sam Melville, a prisoner who had played a significant role in organizing the rebellion. In the spring of 1971, Melville had written a letter to a friend describing his experience of the passage of time in prison. After his death the letter was published in the magazine, Ramparts. As I read it I was impressed both by the poetic quality of the text and by its cryptic irony. I read it over and over again. It seemed that I was trying both to capture a sense of the physical presence of the writer, and at the same time to unlock a hidden meaning from the simple but ambiguous language. The act of reading and rereading finally led me to the idea of a musical treatment.”
Capital – Aleksander Komarov
The Netherlands, 2009, video, 20:00 min
“The past and the present meet in my new film work ‘Capital’ in an unpredictable way. The interrelation between Rotterdam’s destruction during WWII, its current renovation and a blind person is not visible directly, but emerges only when certain imagery and contents are linked to each other in one timeline. I am interested in how the city’s “capital” is expanded on our physical condition and imagination. This is the material I will work with in this new body of film, choosing Rotterdam itself as its protagonist. The eyes of the blind is a metaphor for the inability to see what is inscribed in the ground level of Rotterdam’s 20th century history. The image of the blind person’s eyes is a mediator between my imagination of facts and the real condition of the person that is filmed. The film takes a literal challenge with the Russian avantgarde, which back then proclaimed that reality is a mechanical process and can be corrected, rebuilt, destroyed.”
(Aleksander Komarov, February 2009)