May 2011, arsenal cinema

It's Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Situation in Which He Lives: Art, Cinema, Context Now – a Program by Ian White


Curatorial work in film and video has changed considerably over the years. Films can now be screened almost anywhere, placing the practice of curating before new challenges.

In view of this examination, we have introduced a scholarship in cooperation with the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service. For three months, a film or video curator can use everything the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has to offer: infrastructure, offices and screening rooms, collections. The result of the stipend is a program for the public.

Our first guest is from London: Ian White is Adjunct Film Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery and works as a freelance curator, author and artist. Projects have included coordinating The Artists Cinema at the 2006 and 2007 Frieze Art Fair in London and Kinomuseum at the 2007 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. He is co-editor of the publication Kinomuseum – Towards an Artists' Cinema (with Mike Sperlinger, Cologne 2008). White has taught at graduate and post-graduate levels in the UK and abroad and is the facilitator of the LUX Associate Artists' Programme. As an artist he recently collaborated with Jimmy Robert on the performance "Marriage à la Mode et Cor Anglais" (STUK, Leuven, De Appel, Amsterdam, 2007/08).

The program Ian White has curated for the Arsenal is a research project named after Rosa von Praunheim's famous 1971 film. It addresses the relationship between artistic and curatorial practice - between a film presentation and its context - to the extent that context becomes content and the projection of a film becomes a manipulated performance event. The effects this research project has had on the film curator are enormous, since they refer to the historicity of cinema as an institution and thus point out its inner and outer limits.

White has written previously about the unique nature of the space(s) occupied by "expanded" or "other" cinema: "In particular through the establishment of the Co-operative in the late 1960s and themselves conscious of other legacies than those institutionally received, practitioners were aesthetically and physically operating in a space between the auditorium and the art gallery, employing both or neither not just as a necessity for getting work shown, but often as an inseparable, political or theoretical constituent of the work itself." (Ian White, Catalogue of the 2007 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen).

Perhaps it is this performative handling of the spatial and imaginary conditions of "cinema" that is reflected in a four-day program by Ian White. His own practice as an artist played a central role in the conception and choice of performances, slide shows and readings accompanying each film projection. The history of the house is addressed in a unique way: with few exceptions, all the films to be shown were screened in 1971 at the 1st International Forum of New Cinema. The selection was made according to strict conceptual criteria: there will only be films by women or by collectives. Leaving the conventional cinema space will be physically noticeable for the viewer: the program will take place in three locations: the Arsenal cinema, the venue lab.oratory and the gallery Tanya Leighton, where the program will open with White's performance "IBIZA: A Reading For 'The Flicker'".

THE FLICKER (Tony Conrad, USA 1965/66, 27.3.) is an icon of structural film. Made up of white and black images, the film evokes through stroboscopic effects directly neuronal reactions and elicits optical illusions such as seeing colors and shapes.

A short film program at Arsenal will be supplemented by parallel projections: MONANGAMBEEE (Sarah Maldoror, Algeria 1996, 28.3.) means "white death", and it was the battle cry of Angola's population whenever the Portuguese slave traders arrived. The film tells of a woman who visits her husband in prison and promises to have a “complet” delivered to him. Around the double meaning of this word, the director creates a rhythmic film collage about life in a colonialized society.

In D (Guido Lombardi, Anna Lajolo, I 1970), the filmmakers contrast images of a vision of paradise with documentary footage of villages in eastern Liguria, where construction of a highway has robbed residents of their livelihoods.

BLUE MONDAY/WAR MACHINE (Duvet Brothers, GB 1984) is a two-part experimental film. While WAR MACHINE paraphrases an advertising film by combining Ronald Reagan's voice with images of victims of war, BLUE MONDAY takes us on a journey through a shattered Britain, accompanied by a song by the band New Order.

NICHT DER HOMOSEXUELLE IST PERVERS SONDERN DIE SITUATION IN DER ER LEBT (It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives, Rosa von Praunheim, W. Germany 1971, 28.3.) is illuminated from a contemporary queer perspective through a simultaneous projection of photos by artist Emily Roysdon. The film caused a wave of outrage upon its first broadcast on WDR television in 1972. It flirts with a homophobic stance: the story of Daniel, who arrives in the big city and goes through all of the stages in the life of a gay man in the 1970s is accompanies by a warning voice heard off-screen and in interview excerpts. What Christa Maerker called "perfect dilettantism" in the 1971 Forum program, which appears both in the film’s semi-documentary style and in its portrayal of figures and situations, creates an insecurity in the viewer that, at best, prompts an examination of one's own attitudes.

The second day of the program at the Arsenal will see Algerian radio (via headphones) accompanying the projection of LES PASSAGERS, and the performance group Low in the Cave present an interpretation of the film OTHON.

LES PASSAGERS (Annie Tresgot, Algeria, 1971, 29.3.) follows the maturation of process of 18-year-old Rachid, who in 1968, six years after Algerian independence, emigrates to France.

OTHON (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, W. Germany/I 1970, 29.3.) is a literal adaptation of the play by Pierre Corneille, which was first performed in 1664, shot in the original locations. In five acts, the film tells a story of love and power in ancient Rome.

The conclusion is a special projection of Richard Serra's HANDS at lab.oratory (30.03). The film series, which the American artist shot in 1968, shows his own hands carrying out simple tasks. According to Rosalind Krauss, the way in which Serra portrays them in HAND CATCHING LEAD is a direct reference to the medium of film, while at the same time being a filmic emphasis of his own artistic potency. It is this aspect that the environment provided by lab.oratory will emphasize in a unique way. (Anne Breimaier)

An event in cooperation with the Berlin artist program of the DAAD.