Artists from a broad range of disciplines are experimenting with the medium of film more than ever before. Forum expanded is exploring and documenting this phenomenon for the fourth time this year, continuing to bridge the gap between classical film festival formats and the spatial and visual practices of the art and gallery world.
A total of a dozen locations are involved this year - in addition to the Filmhaus and the Hamburger Bahnhof, work will also be shown at an artist’s studio and eight Berlin galleries, including that of the DAAD artists programme as well as the newly established Antje Wachs Gallery. The Marshall McLuhan Salon in the Canadian Embassy will be used as a setting again as well, and appropriately so: the media theorist McLuhan’s most important claim that “the medium is the message” seems more current than ever in a year when more than half of the Berlinale screens are equipped with digital cinema servers. The aim of this year’s Forum expanded is to take a new look at the characteristics of conventional formats like film, video, photography, and television in light of the possibilities offered by digitalisation. The artistic practices on view range from drawings (Stephen Andrews in the Wilde Gallery) to architecture films (Heinz Emigholz, Paulette Phillips) to object installation (Pavel Büchler in the Tanya Leighton Gallery).
The opening event with guest of honour Michael Snow, the pioneer of experimental film and interdisciplinary artistic practice, also promises to be exciting. Snow’s new work, Puccini Conservato, is devoted to Puccini and the opera and will be shown every day in the twenty-minute programme Tre Puccini together with works by Stephen Dwoskin and Christian Lebrat. All three videos were made at the initiative of the Lucca Film Festival and show the skin of the musicians, the tears of the audience members, and the material of the loudspeakers in close-up.
One of the discoveries of this year’s Forum expanded programme is the extensive body of work of the painter, photographer, filmmaker, and clock collector Ludwig Schönherr, who has been exploring formal film since the sixties and who created a series of “electronic films” following the purchase of his first black-and-white television set. His oeuvre, which until now has only been privately archived, is devoted to the peculiarities of Super 8 and 16 mm film, television, and pop culture. “Stupid Structures, Happy Structures: Films, Installations and an Exhibition by Ludwig Schönherr”, curated by Marc Siegel, introduces Schönherr’s fascinating work to the public for the first time and will be on view at the studio Halle A/14 as well as in the Filmhaus.
Another discovery was made by artist Marie Losier, whose new work takes up the idea of the “Scopitones”—jukeboxes popular in the sixties that featured 16 mm precursors of the video clip. Losier’s wooden constructions encase microscopic musical performances by industrial rock veteran Genesis P’Orridge.
Other highlights include the gallery Haunch of Venison’s showing of a remake of a 1981 work by video artist Bill Viola. Today’s technology of digital projection makes it possible for Hatsu-Yume/First Dream (1981/2008) to be seen for the first time the way it was originally conceived and recorded. Also engaging with older image formats, Katharina Sieverding (Galerie Thomas Schulte) and the Canadian artist duo Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak (Marshal McLuhan Salon) focus in their work on the relationship between photography and movement.
Finally there is celluloid itself, which is also taken as an object of scrutiny by the artists in the programme. Three performances and one installation work with 16 mm or 35 mm film formats. For some (Barbara Hammer, Wilhelm Hein) this constitutes a return to the material and the physicality of film, while for others (Guillaume Cailleau & Benjamin Krieg, Jennifer Reeves) the decision to work with celluloid was inspired by the fragility of film and its increasing disappearance from both art and commerce. The Forum will present a special screening with live musical accompaniment of Jennifer Reeves’ 16 mm double-projection When It Was Blue in Delphi cinema.
Two world premieres are among the feature-length films in this year’s Forum expanded programme. The complex All Fall Down by Philip Hoffman (Canada) explores the documentary possibilities resulting from the interplay between different material aesthetics, while Johan Grimonprez’ extraordinary essay film Double Take traces the connections between American television, the Cold War, and Alfred Hitchcock’s doubles.
The programme will be accompanied by seven panel discussions and seven gallery bus tours, some with a performative twist.
List of Artists in Forum expanded 2009:
D-L Alvarez, Stephen Andrews, Pablo Bartholomew, Pavel Büchler, Oksana Bulgakowa, Guillaume Cailleau & Benjamin Krieg, Chris Chong Chan Fui, Vaginal Davis, Stephen Dwoskin, Martin Ebner & Katya Eydel & Klaus Weber, Heinz Emigholz, Milena Gierke, Shumona Goel, Karoe Goldt, Johan Grimonprez, Dan Graham, Barbara Hammer, Birgit Hein, Wilhelm Hein & John Blue & Tim Blue, Philip Hoffman, Gustavo Jahn & Melissa Dullius & Michel Balagué, Christian Lebrat, Sharon Lockhart, Marie Losier, Scott Miller Berry, Tomonari Nishkawa, Ria Pacquée, Paulette Phillips, Jennifer Reeves & Skúli Sverrisson, Susanne Sachße, Ludwig Schönherr, Katharina Sieverding, Michael Snow, Isabell Spengler, Lisa Steele & Kim Tomczak, Bill Viola, Bear Witness & Bonnie Devine & Keesic Douglas & Darryl Nepinak, Juliane Zelwies, Stefan Zeyen.
January 16, 2009