This month's public screening of a film from the Arsenal archive is being organized by the DFG graduate school "Visibility and Visual Production: Hybrid Forms of Iconic Knowledge". This research project by Peter Müller, who will be putting the film up for discussion together with Ines Schaber, is dedicated to exploring standardizations with respect to the 16:9 aspect ration. The cinema manifesto EROSU + GYAKUSATSU (Eros plus Massacre, Japan 1969) by Yoshishige Yoshida contrasts the story of an anarchist who preached free love and was shot by the military in 1923 with that of a young couple in the 60s: history and the present in the decentered CinemaScope format. (15.12.)
Exactly 40 years ago, in November 1973, the first international women's film conference took place at the old Arsenal in Welserstraße and the primary school opposite. It was organized by Filmmakers Claudia von Alemann and Helke Sander, who presented 45 films from seven countries - this was tantamount to a pioneering achievement. They invited 250 participants who were active in women's groups. On top of that, women who worked in the media came and thanks to the conference/festival they were able to build up a network for the first time. The same was true for the filmmakers. Most screenings were premieres and thus the event can also be considered to be the first women’s film festival in the world, with films made by and about women. There had never been a women's film festival of this size before. However, in the forefront was the establishment of a public discourse. In this sense, the event was like a model and in the following years it was emulated and extended in many cities, for example in Frankfurt and Munich (by Angela Haardt). The issues examined were "Women in the labor struggle, women in the depiction of the media, women and Paragraph 218, sexuality, role behavior, the women's movement in Europe and the US." Films of all lengths and genres that picked up on these themes critically were invited. In 1993, Arsenal, the "Blickpilotin" association and the "Übung am Phantom" group revisited the event after 20 years. Angela Melitopoulos also examined it in her "Möglich-keitsraum" events at the HKW and Arsenal. Now, four decades have passed.
We invite you to join us on Sunday November 10 to re-watch the 28 largely short films that have been in Arsenal's collection since 1973. Claudia von Alemann and Helke Sander and Angela Melitopoulos and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus will guide audiences through the day's program and discuss it with members of the public and some of the participants of the November 1973 event.
It is with great sadness that we received the news that our friend, colleague and Living Archive participant Ian White died on Saturday, October 16, at the age of 41.
Ian White was a curator, author, artist and teacher. In his long collaboration with the London film institution LUX he initiated, organized and curated numerous project, among them the Associate Artist Programme. As a jury member and curator he was a regular guest at the International Shortfilm Festival in Oberhausen. He also worked for Whitechapel Gallery and the Frieze Art Fair.
His connection to the Arsenal started in 2009, when he spent three months in our house as an Arsenal curator in residency, in a program organized in cooperation with the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service. During his stay, he curated the program "It's Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Situation in Which He Lives: Art, Cinema, Context Now", which addressed the relationship between artistic and curatorial practice - between a film presentation and its contexts. Ian‘s work in general and this project in particular, were a major inspiration for the concept of "Living Archive - Archival work as a contemporary curatorial and artistic practice".
The next public screening will take place on October 9. TA' DET SOM EN MAND, FRUE! (Take it Like a Man, Madam!, Denmark 1975) by the "Red Sister" collective (Mette Knudsen, Elisabeth Rygaard, Li Vilstrup) will be screened. The film has been presented at the International Forum of New Cinema in 1975. Erika Gregor will be present to discuss the film which is about Ellen Rasmussen, a 50-year-old middle-class woman, in an average marriage. She drinks and has all the known symptoms of housewife neurosis. Suddenly she has a dream in which gender roles are reversed.
This month Vaginal Davis presents a film by Avant-garde filmmaker John Abraham, an original character in Indian film history. AGRAHARATHIL KAZHUTHAI (Donkey in a Brahmin Village, India 1977) is the second and perhaps most famous of his four films, and the only one in Tamil. Using allegory and satire, it is the story of a donkey who one day enters a village dominated by upper caste Brahmins. To the outrage of the villagers, a professor adopts him. In his fable about guilt and innocence, Abraham criticizes intolerance and superstition among the Brahmins. (22.9. followed by drinks and music)
Auguso Pinochet's military putsch of 11. September 1973 brought a violent end to the attempt to establish a democratic socialist state in Chile. Called "el golpe" in Chile, the coup marks its 40th anniversary this month. Therefore, on September 11 we are showing a program curated by Florian Wüst that examines social and economic inequalities in early 1970s Chile and sees them as the basis for the political clashes. REPORTAJE A LOTA documents living and working conditions in the mining town of Lota before Salvador Allende's election. Peter Nestler's CHILEFILM analyzes the long history of imperialistic exploitation and the class struggle. The situation immediately after the putsch is depicted in CONTRA LA RAZON Y POR LA FUERZA: Santiago in a state of war, the villa district celebrating, the workers' settlements in mourning. With an introduction by Florian Wüst.
Due to the great interest, public screenings will be held again starting this month, providing an opportunity to get to know the wide extent of the archive. In the coming public screenings, we will be focusing on the films from the "1st International Women’s Film Seminar of West Germany and West Berlin" in 1973. The original event was held at the Arsenal’s former location in Welserstrasse and organized by the directors Helke Sander and Claudia von Alemann, who will be present on September 10.
For the "model seminar", as it was called at the time, which was followed by similar events in other German cities, approx. 45 short and full-length films were shown, some of which are still in our collection today. The films were meant above all to serve the purposes of social education and agitation. One of the films included was YEAR OF THE WOMAN by Sandra Hochman (USA 1972, OV, 82 min), which is the first film we view. It had previously been presented at the International Forum of New Cinema and marks a milestone in feminist (film) history. It is the first feature-length film in the USA that was exclusively produced by women. It documented how, for the first time, women at the 1972 Democratic Party Convention in Miami conquered the political world that had been dominated by men. “Sandra Hochman wanted to show a new awareness of the dignity of women and she realized her intention by means of a hilariously funny film, in which a large number of prominent people appear, as do many committed members of various international women’s organizations,” was how it read in the Forum catalogue in 1973. The list of participants is long: Alongside Betty Friedan, Flo Kennedy, German Grier, or Shirley McLaine we also see Norman Mailer and Warren Beatty. Free admission.
The Living Archive project is entering a new phase. One of the most important results so far has been to acquire an impression of the variety of the Arsenal's collection. What was detectable before was only the tip of the iceberg.
That's why we continue to present events organized by project participants and other archive researchers and to organize our monthly public screenings. Florian Wüst's "El golpe" event on September 11 is a continuation of his project "“So They Go and Buy – Thoughts on Chilean and West German Films of the Early 1970s". At the upcoming public screening event on September 10 we will be viewing YEAR OF THE WOMEN by Sandra Hochman (USA 1973). And as a third event this month, Vaginal Davis will be presenting an Indian film from the year 1977 as part of her Living Archive project "Rising Stars, Falling Stars - We Must Have Music!".
We look forward to making further discoveries with the audience that will not only lead to new cinematographic experiences but also to digitalization, restoration and programming projects.
We are pleased to present five new DVD releases realized through "Living Archive": Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s avant-garde films RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX and AMY! (GB 1977 & 1980), Deepa Dhanrajs pioneering film-political work KYA HUA IS SHAHAR KO? (What Has Happened to this City?, India, 1986), Philip Scheffner’s THE HALFMOON FILES and DAY OF THE SPARROW (Germany 2007 & 2010), a DVD featuring classics of queer cinema by Sheila McLaughlin and Lynne Tillman (INSIDE OUT, COMMITTED and SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS, USA 1976–84) and the cinematic oeuvre of the Berlin filmmaker, photographer, networker, story and image collector Riki Kalbe with a total of 15 films from 1976 to 1998. The Arsenal cinema will be showing all films from July 2-7 (for program details please see arsenal cinema / program).
The catalogue presents a new and unique access to the archive of the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, which sets new standards in dealing with a film collection. 37 artists, performers, curators and scholars were invited to develop their own perspectives in dealing with the archive and to implement and present their projects. For two years, the Arsenal archive was the starting point for the multi-perspective approach of participants hailing from USA, India, South Africa, Israel, Brazil, Jordan, Britain and Germany. This produced an endless variety of projects: retrospectives of Soviet, Chilean, Spanish and Cuban films; the reappraisal of Riki Kalbe and Ludwig Schönherr's oevre; a cinema of decolonization; a cross-sectional analysis of the year 1978; KEYwording – the importance of keywords for the functioning of an archive; an archeology of cinema or a program on cinematic explorations of national identities.
From June 4–30 we will be celebrating the closure of "Living Archive – Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice" with a month-long festival with film programs, sound works, exhibitions, performances, discussions and introductory events. All 37 participating artists, filmmakers, performers, musicians, curators, and scholars, as well as the four Goethe Institute awardees from India, South Africa, Jordan, and Brazil will be presenting their projects. A festival pass is available at the box office for 50 Euros as well as a catalogue with texts by all participants.
Dorothee Wenner's Living Archive project "Family Affairs" – developed in close cooperation with Erika and Ulrich Gregor – is a personal, almost private – and yet hopefully insightful – collection of stories about single films in Arsenal's archive, which were either shown in the Berlinale Forum section or were purchased, given as gifts or arrived in Berlin via other channels. Indeed it has often been a question of chance and happenstance, preferences of taste, political convictions, financial restrictions or tactical moves that have brought certain films into our archive. On the occasion of Arsenal's 50th birthday, we are presenting the first series of these "netflicks" as part of Living Archive on our website and in the cinema foyer.
Numerous publications are being published in the context of the Living Archive project. In adition to the Living Archive catalogue, "Rising Stars, Falling Stars", a broshure accompanying Vaginal Davis' series at the Arsenal cinema has already been published as well as eleven books within the framework of the project "KEYwording". The publication "NOW! Extended" will be available soon. Madhusree Dutta and Ines Shaber’s project "KEYwording – Notes on Enculturation of Words and Word Practice within the Image Archive" deals with the importance of tagging and annotation for the functioning of an archive. The Arsenal has abandoned the convention of keywording because "the given categories do not and cannot be applied to many of the films Arsenal is collecting." Inspired by this statement, the project aims to create a cross-cultural dialogue on the usage of words and their expanses in the context of myriad theories, practices, associations and actions within the field of cultural productions.
What can I see when I have a filmstrip in my hands. How do I find a film in the archive? Which pictures remain with me after a program of shorts? Over 200 Berlin schoolchildren were able to gain an insight into Arsenal's film collection. They curated their own programs from short, mainly experimental, films in a playful way. They also drew their recollections of films. Stefanie Schlüter presents the results in an exhibition and three events for families and schools. Films, programs and drawings made by the children will be shown. They will also provide live scores. The project was supported by the filmmakers Ute Aurand, Robert Beavers, Milena Gierke and the silent movie pianist Eunice Martins. (For children aged 6 and above, 9.–13.6.)
Living Archive is approaching the (preliminary) finish line: Throughout the month of June, the participants of the project will present the results of their research at the Arsenal and at KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Save the whole month! Also, the Arsenal turns 50! We will kick off the celebration with a special evening on June 4. Due to the June preparations, there will be no Living Archive events this month, except for Rising Stars, Falling Stars on May 26. Also, we inaugurate a viewing station in the "Studiolo" of the KW with a selection of films, which have been (re-)discovered through the Living Archive project.
Stefanie Schlüter invites schoolchildren to Arsenal with her "Living Archive for children, with children" project. What can a film archive do, what can films do for the aesthetic and cultural edcuation of young people growing up in the digital age? The center of her project, which is primarily directed at elementary pupils, is the Arsenal's comprehensive collection of experimental films. These can confront the viewer with an unusual view of things, they are often playful in form and deal with questions of perception at the intersection between film and other arts.
Our last public screening for some time is taking place on April 10. Since the Living Archive project began in June 2011, participants have selected films once a month to watch and discuss with the public. There have been rediscoveries and unexpected treasures, which have aroused a great deal of interest. That’s why the series will resume from July onwards.
We are looking forward to a special screening in April: Together with the audience, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, artistic director of the project Living Archive, will spontaneously select films from the Arsenal archive and project them.
On March 24, Vaginal Davis presents "Rising Stars, Falling Stars – We Must Have Music!". This month, Ms. Davis is presenting a rarity from the archive, a film by one of the most important directors of early Egyptian cinema: Muhammad Karim. The film ZEINAB (Egypt 1950, 35mm, OV/Ges, 111 min) will be screened. ZEINAB is a sound remake of his eponymous 1930 silent movie. Both films are based on Muhammad Husein Haikal's novel written in 1914, about a peasant girl trapped between social and family convention and her own hopes. The criticism of traditional family structures and arranged marriages is developed in a romantic and nostalgic aesthetic style. ZEINAB's Soundtrack is a conglomerate of classical music and western orchestral music and it plays a similar role as in Indian Bollywood productions. Followed by drinks and music as always.
At the request of Martin Ebner the films ROSE HOBART (Joseph Cornell, USA 1936, 16mm, without dialogue, 19 min) and SIGNAL – GERMANY ON THE AIR (Ernie Gehr, USA 1985, 16mm, without dialogue, 34 min) will be shown and discussed on March 12. Cornell's first and most impressive film ROSE HOBART is essentially a new version of East of Borneo, a jungle drama by Universal Pictures from 1931 with Rose Hobart and Charles Bickford. ROSE HOBART transforms the banal plot of East of Borneo intentionally into a maze. "Joseph Cornell appropriated a print of the Hollywood film East of Borneo that he had found on a flea market. He re-cut it, shortened it and added images, giving it a new soundtrack so as to create a completely new and self-contained piece. Moreover, Cornell also tinted the film blue, which was originally black and white, by screening it through a tinted glass at the first screening. He played sentimental dance music on a record player. For the print that he made decades later with Jonas Mekas for the Anthology Film Archives in New York he decided upon a reddish-purple color and this provisional or perhaps now final version is also in the Arsenal archive. In this version the soundtrack is an audio cassette or mp3/CD with mambo music from the 1960s that is played parallel to the film when it is screened (but not in sync)." (Martin Ebner)
Ernie Gehr created SIGNAL - GERMANY ON THE AIR during his DAAD artist grant residency in West-Berlin in 1985, Ernie Gehr created SIGNAL - GERMANY ON THE AIR. The title SIGNAL - GERMANY ON THE AIR refers to the audio track of the film, which was mainly composed of radio recordings by Gehr.
Once again, several events in this year’s Forum and Forum Expanded program are linked to the Living Archive project. On the first day of the festival two events will be taking place: a panel discussion "To Begin with the Archive" with project participants and the Forum Expanded curatorial team and the presentation of a restored version of a film from the 1988 Forum program, KYA HUA IS SHAHAR KO? (WHAT HAPPENDED TO THIS CITY?, Deepa Dhanraj, India 1986) by project participant Nicole Wolf. Two further panel discussions with Living Archive participants will be taking place on February 10 and 11.
Curatorial Mother Vaginal Davis rings in the New Year with Jim Jarmusch's very first film PERMANENT VACATION (USA 1980) on January 27. To a rumbling soundtrack – a mélange of Japanese Gamelan music and John Luries' jazz improvisations – the youthful protagonist Allie drifts through Manhattan's Lower East Side. On his sensual search through rundown, abandoned apartment houses and industrial buildings, the Charlie Parker fans encounters a cross section of Downtown hipsters: saxophone players, crooks, freaks, poets. A melancholy "Odyssey of Cool". Followed, as always, by drinks, music and gossip with Vaginal Davis!
On January 8 the next public screening takes place. At the request of Angela Melitopoulos a selection of films from the Newsreel Collective from the Arsenal archive will be shown and discussed. Established in December 1967 as Newsreel, an activist filmmaker collective, this NY group grew to become a network with chapters across the US. Its different chapters produced and distributed short 16mm films covering the anti-war and women's movements, civil and human rights movements. In the mid-70s the New York Newsreel became Third World Newsreel (TWN).
The countdown is on! In June 2013 the project "Living Archive – Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice" is ending with a grand closing event, with which we are also celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art (formerly Friends of the German Film Archive). Over the entire month, the participants of Living Archive will present the results of their two years of research and exchange in the Arsenal’s archive in the form of exhibitions, book presentations, DVD projects, film series and performances. Until then, there is still time to view hidden, unknown and forgotten films together within the framework of our public screening series.
This project takes three films by American filmmaker and actress Sheila McLaughlin as representative of a trend in experimental film that took place in the 70s and 80s, moving it away from a radically material-based, self reflexive aesthetic towards the narrative forms of independent film, within which new forms of cinematic representation and documentation could be developed. Over three silent sequences, the short film INSIDE OUT (USA 1976/78) shows moments of sustained, internal tension just before an emotional outburst on the part of the protagonists. The internal bursts out of these portraits like the filling of a broken Piñata doll. The film COMMITTED (USA 1980–84), which Sheila McLaughlin realized together with Lynne Tillman, is not a biography of actress Frances Farmer but rather a fictional analysis of the same. It deals with the disturbed relationship between Farmer and her mother, the sociopolitical climate in the USA of the 30s and 40s, the role of psychiatry as an increasingly powerful determinant in this period and the destructive love story between a woman (actress) and a man (director). COMMITTED is conducted as a Film noir and a period piece – the latter of which is unusual for an independent film. SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS (USA / West Germany 1987) weaves together a director’s efforts at adapting a novel by Thomas de Quincey for the screen and her conflict-filled relationship with her lover, which feeds off jealously and is hung up on day dreams and revenge fantasies. The production and aesthetic of these films deliver some interesting insights into the transatlantic cooperation being undertaken within independent filmmaking at the time, with all three being shown as part of the Living Archive project of Heinz Emigholz, who is also preparing a DVD release of the films. Sheila McLaughlin will be in attendance at the screening.
At the request of Constanze Ruhm the film ANNA (Italy 1975, 16mm, 213', OV/GeS) by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli will be shown and discussed on December 18. ANNA is an documentary about a 16-year-old homeless junkie, eight months pregnant, whom the filmmakers discovered in Rome’s Piazza Navona. It documents the interactions between the beautiful, clearly damaged, often dazed teenager and the directors, who take her in partly out of compassion and partly because she’s a fascinating subject for a film. ANNA cuts between long domestic scenes (including an interminable delousing in the shower) and equally protracted café discussions back in the square, where the unruly cross talk touches on the movie’s key themes: between filmmakers, the state and the society. Far from straightforward vérité, this self-implicating chronicle includes reenactments of the first meeting, explicit attempts to direct its subject, and frequent intrusions from behind the camera (not least the emergence of the film’s electrician as a love interest). The film was originally recorded with a video apparatus in a length of 11 hours and a 4 hours abridged version was transferred to 16mm film in June 1975 by using the "Vidigrafo" (constructed by Grifi himself). That same year, ANNA was shown at the International Forum of New Cinema.
"Specters of Freedom: Cinema and Decolonialization" establishes relationships between the Arsenal film archive and two archives in Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau which relate an important chapter in the story of anti-colonial African cinema. As part of his "Living Archive" project, curator Tobias Hering has invited Portuguese artists Catarina Simão and Filipa César to present their respective, not explicitly related research on each of these archives at the Arsenal cinema. Over a total of five evenings, films of different origins, visual fragments and sound recordings create a resonance chamber which serves to bring up both the role of cinema in the decolonialisation processes of the 70s and the politics of archives for discussion. The timeframe of the film selection is the 70s. The program also includes a video installation by Catarina Simão in the Black Box in the Arsenal foyer (5.11.-12.11. and 26.11.-28.11., 4pm–10pm, projection restarts on the hour). On 27 und 28.11., filmmaker Sana na N'Hada from Guinea-Bissau will also be in attendance.