directors lounge monthly screening
reine liebe und architektur
pure love and architecture
Screening with Super-8 Films
Thursday, 24 May 2012
Architecture and film have formed unofficial alliances in modern times, and still the connection between Super-8 film and architecture seems to be astonishing. The program comprises films on architecture together with observations of human interaction, flowers and lonely places. The film screening itself could be called a live performance as Milena Gierke projects the films personally and usually presents a different selection of her work consisting of over 75 films each time she has a show. For this program the program was put together in close cooperation with the curator, Klaus W. Eisenlohr. The artist's films films distinguish themselves by the loving gaze on details through the camera and by the organic rhythm of images, which originate in her in-camera editing. Thus in the viewer's perception, arrays of details come together and fall into place forming architecture, buildings and sceneries.
Until now, the artist has remained faithful to the super-8 camera, besides her other work with painting, installation and sculpture. The handy small-film material packaged in cartridges firstly was presented by Kodak in 1965 and aimed at the amateur market. However, it was also quickly discovered by artists newly exploring different visual media at that time. It is not the quality of the image and less so a kind of idealization, why this film material has been the preferred medium for Gierke, but the material restrictions. The need for sufficient available light, the relatively small frame of the image, the rule to edit in-camera that leads to her specific organic rhythm of images and edits, and the small portable hand-held camera that doesn't allow for long telephoto shootings are some of the constrains the artist is working with. Looking at the quote by Robert Bresson "The ability to use my means wanes if their numbers increase", we could say that here in this case the freedom of filmmaking is based on the limitations of the medium. The tough decisions of choosing the right scene matching with the previously recorded images results in an incredible economy of resources, as the artists usually shoots with an 1:1 ratio of used film footage, unless some technical problems occur. At the same time, the in-camera edits often result in the classical unities of action, place and time, or even more so, the films represent the holistic perception of space and time at one location, in one situation. Each film breathes, happens at the present time, and at the moment of its showing.
Another distinction the artist achieved, is her empathy towards her subjects, or the "situation" laid out in front of her camera. It is Elfi Mikesch who is seen as an outstanding camera person for her intimate intensity of camera work, however Milena Gierke reaches a similar intensity by means of her specific technique of "love for the subject". She tells me that in relation to her subject, she takes up the role of the "male lover": the scenery must open up, and "take the first step", and Milena must then "fall in love" with the situation making "her" unfold in front of the camera. This kind of love relation happens with architecture like the Cité Radiueuse by Le Corbusier, or La Muralla Roja by Ricardo Bofill, however it also uncovers the strange beauty of contemporary, concrete ruins at the Mediterranean coast, or of a hidden place in the backyard. In a different film, red poppy flowers turn into architectural beauty. If there is a bondage between modern architecture and the cinematic point of view — without the latter, modernity would possibly have taken different directions — then there also exists a direct link between human encounters and the film camera. Meetings, parades and parties were interesting subjects already at the beginnings of film with the Lumière Brothers. Following this spirit, this program will finish with a very special party, the 16th birthday of Milena Gierke's sister, also recorded with a loving view of the camera, a gem and the only sound film in the program.
Showing in the midst of the program, "Fremder Mann II" (foreign man) on the other hand could be a key for the interpretation of the reversed gender role, the artist encounters when filming. The starting point of the film was an illegal dump site somewhere in the South of France, where remnants of romance could be found, such as pictures from novels and stills from love scenes, or bedroom furnishings and sales promotions. In-between a single man searches for something. He looks sweaty and poor, still he doesn't look for the common recyclable wood or metal pieces. The camera follows with the distance of an interested observer. The story remains open, as we don't know what the man was able to find, if anything. Still, the composition of images reflect a tension of desire. The man obviously is aware of being watched, but he doesn't respond. However, the situation fully unfolds for the viewer, in complex ways. At the same time the encounter stays ephemeral even in its conserved form on celluloid (since long replaced by the less romantic acetate), also because Milena Gierke is opposed to any reproduction of her films as stills, as she insists on the uniqueness of the film viewing experience during a screening.
One more reason to make this screening with Milena Gierke a very special occasion. (Curated by Klaus W. Eisenlohr)
Director Milena Gierke:
Curator Milena Gierke: