June 2018, arsenal cinema

“it is the present, the present of the past” – Films by Ingo Kratisch and Jutta Sartory

BILD, 2016

“A woman becomes aware that she lacks understanding and sets off on a trip that brings her to New York. From here, she goes west and crosses the continent. Constantly on the move and alternating between early sympathies and later rejection, her European illusions yield to concrete American parameters. The subjective experience of the first journey continues in the second part as a search for the country’s structure in analytical form. Roads, buildings, bridges, landscape, cities and traffic create a model that unlocks the country’s reality.” (Jutta Sartory) DIE BELEIDIGUNG AMERICAS IM WINTER 1977/78 (The Insult of America in the Winter of 1977/78), which was shot on Super-8 and blown up to 16mm, opens our retrospective of films by Ingo Kratisch and Jutta Sartory on June 14. For many in West Berlin, New York seemed much closer than the rest of West Germany. It was easy to just get on a plane and escape to another world without having to go through the hassle of crossing borders and taking the transit road. So a poetic film about America became a film about West Berlin and thus about West Germany, about the relationship between imagination and reality, proximity and distance, past and present. Ingo Kratisch and Jutta Sartory have been making films together since 1979. The city of Berlin, divided into East and West and before and after, forms the principle of construction for most of their films. They present a world that doesn’t follow a known narrative and yet is full of moments of recognition. In this way, they give the past a face in a fictionalized present, pointing to the real in the imagination. Their point of view is poetry, their point of reference is social and objective reality.

At the core of the film DIESSEITS UND JENSEITS (1983, 14.6.) is the idea to get two female characters to find a connection between the bust of Queen Nefertiti in West Berlin and the head of her daughter Ankhesenpaaten in East Berlin. The two have very different approaches. O LOGISCHER GARTEN (1985/88, 14.6.) is also a portrayal of the city of Berlin in its intellectual and material guises. “Because we know that we cannot forget the past, this is the topic of the film, appearing unexpectedly in images and sequences, drawing attention and escaping.” (I.K/J.S) Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s “attempt to capture the image of history within the most insignificant fixations of existence, out of its debris,” it is the people, buildings and streets in both parts of Berlin, the whole city, and their public and private testimony, that have to be preserved authentically.

Ingo Kratisch, who studied film at the dffb like Harun Farocki before him, worked as a cameraman on many of Farocki’s films, while Farocki acted in LOGIK DES GEFÜHLS (The Logic of Emotion, 1981, Screenplay: Jutta Sartory, 15.6.). A poetic text by Cäzilia Gall describes the film: "The main protagonist is Georg, lovesick, for whom there is nothing more to portray. People, whom he meets. They are like extras on the empty planks of his heart: 'The Traveller', 'The Poet', 'The Lover', 'The Gambler', 'The Deranged One', 'The Man in the Port' and others. And the plot: "What happens? Nothing much. […] Where is it set? In an in-between space, between lost love and a coming love. Winter. Berlin. 1981. Anna has separated from Georg. Silence." HENRY ANGST (1979, 15.6.) – which also stars Harun Farocki – is also a film about love that begins with a setback. Henry Angst leaves his wife and work after reading a farewell letter that predicts an unspeakably cheerful death and becoming aware of his life. He goes to a hotel and gambles to decide what path to take. The two films will be presented by the Harun Farocki Institut, as will DIE WOLLANDS (17.6.), which Ingo Kratisch made in 1972 with Marianne Lüdcke and which Farocki particularly liked. Horst Wolland is a welder in Berlin and his wife also works. The grandmother looks after their child. Wolland tries to move up the career ladder to better provide for his family. He is on the verge of being promoted when the working conditions worsen, triggering a strike. Wolland stays out of it but he also refuses to tell his manager who the strike-leader is. So he is not promoted. Wolland understands what solidarity means and tries to organize another strike. The screening will be preceded by the short KUNSTPREIS ’69: In March 1969, the award ceremony of the Berlin Art Prize at Charlottenburg Palace created a sensation. Loud protests by the Außerparlamentarische Opposition (APO) prevented West Berlin’s mayor Klaus  Schütz from holding his opening speech.

DAS GLEICHE WOLLEN UND DAS GLEICHE NICHT WOLLEN (Wanting And Not Wanting The Same, 1990, 20.6.) “is about real people and is composed of recordings of authentic public events and authentic representations of a private nature as well as staged scenes which are both public and private. From the summer of 1988 until December 1990 the protagonists from Berlin are presented through their personal relationships to their work and their art, and through places the people of their surroundings are related to (West-Eastern Berlin). What is essential, however, is that they reveal who they are through acting and speaking. Thus they can be recognized as unique characters.”

DIE STEINE (1985, 21.6.) anticipated the idea of the Stolpersteine: It is summer and the 14-year-old Sophie rides her bike to an isolated site in Berlin - now the Topography of Terror - where she reads “The Destruction of the European Jews”. She is disrupted and looks for another place, coming across Joseph who is the same age as her. They spend the afternoon together. They have an idea after seeing a pile of paving stones near a bunker: They decide to dedicate a stone to each person murdered by the Nazis. They plan to use chalk on the stones to give the dead a monument.

Just a few years later: The title NOCH NICHT UND NICHT MEHR (1991–2000, 21.6.) describes the state of Berlin, which was a construction site for years after the fall of the wall, celebrating itself as it became something that could not yet be named. A city - full of history - in the future. Kratisch and Sartory observed the building project of Berlin for a period of nine years. At the same time and with equal intensity, they took in the city’s everyday life. At Arsenal on Potsdamer Platz what is happening on the screen becomes the external world of the present - we sit in the cinema.

We will end the retrospective with the premiere of a trilogy about images: RE PRO BILD (22.6.). RE was made in 2010: In this experiment, the different image qualities of a digital camera and of 35-mm photography are compared: Grainy black-and-white video that is reminiscent of 16-mm footage is merged with brilliant color photos. The question of where images originate arises. The autobiographical approach merges with one of media archaeology: After 30 years of film production in the city, Kratisch and Sartory now live mostly in the countryside. PRO (2016) examines three examples of image production: The photographic image, which emerges in order to forget, the “image fasting” of Catholics and the immortalization of images in the mind. Ingo Kratisch once said that he always wanted to be “a Vertovian ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ of his time”, to create a contemporary “Symphony of a Metropolis”. “Getting a glimpse of the present. Working on the image – which nowadays begins in early childhood with “live streaming” – this is the work I have pursued, even as I always shied away from becoming a cameraman. Now, in the end, I have the impression that I have indeed become that very thing – fortunately, however, on my own conditions: Man + Camera. In the end only the image remains.” BILD (2016): “After the videos RE and PRO, in which I was able to play freely with the images, I asked all the persons who had previously appeared (more or less by coincidence) about their pictorial biography. What images did they remember, what images had they grown up with, and which images had influenced them how? I wanted to select the individuals not according to personal preference, but to follow a preordained structure. I wanted to be surprised. And I wanted to learn how my eyewitnesses had become acquainted with the world of images.” (Ingo Kratisch) (stss)

In cooperation with the Harun Farocki Institut. The program is taking place as part of Archive außer sich, an Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art project in cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt as part of The New Alphabet, a HKW project supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.