September 2018, arsenal cinema

The Orchestration of Time:
 Deborah Stratman


The Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman has been making analogue films and video works for almost three decades. She focuses almost entirely on US landscapes, infrastructures and systems of control, exploring the relationship between physical places and imaginary worlds. She is interested in local history and the concrete exercise of power, in natural resources, magic and space, literature and film history. She is particularly interested in how these all influence society. Deborah Stratman orchestrates layers of time and space. One of her most characteristic techniques is a collage of image and sound, and the way this latter is physically experienced is particularly interesting to her. She is aware that cinema has something of the totalitarian and she invites people to get involved with the processes that underlie it. She thinks on the screen, as is clearly visible and hearable. Deborah Stratman will attend all screenings.

Program I begins with IN ORDER NOT TO BE HERE (2002), a series of night shots. Surveillance images and footage of violence meet suburban design. Paranoia transcends reality. This is the case in HACKED CIRCUIT (2014), a tracking shot that portrays sound artists working on a scene for The Conversation with Gene Hackman. VILLAGE, SILENCED (2012) is a re-working of Humphrey Jennings’ docudrama The Silent Village (1943), in which Welsh coal miners from the village of Cwmgiedd re-enact the Nazi invasion and annihilation of the resisting Czech mining village of Lidice. SECOND SIGHTED (2014) is an oracular decoding of the landscape and THE MAGICIAN'S HOUSE (2007) is the story of images and sounds filing a house with ghosts. (14.9.)

Program II begins with IT WILL DIE OUT IN THE MIND(2006), a short meditation about spirituality and the supernatural in the information age. The texts were lifted from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker…THESE BLAZEING STARRS! (2011) explores the ice-cored fireballs that we know as comets and their historical ties to divination.

RAY'S BIRDS (2010) pays tribute to a bird-keeper, MUSICAL INSECTS (2013) is an homage to an illustrated book and the small music makers of the insect world. The video essay IMMORTAL SUSPENDED (2013) about levitation, UFOs and ancient Asian dreams consists of one long shot of the Smithsonian Museum of Art Warehouse in Washington DC. UNTIED (2001) is a small portrait of the volatility of intimacy and of breaking free from abusive cycles. To round off the program, Deborah Stratman has chosen a film from the Arsenal archive: THE BALLOONATIC by Buster Keaton (1923). (15.9.)

A 44-second-long film opens Program III. In HOW AMONG THE FROZEN WORDS (2005) history emerges from the ice as a piercing sound. It was inspired by François Rabelais’ epic 16th century “Gargantua and Pantagruel” novels. ENERGY COUNTRY (2003), a short video message from Texas, questions land use policy that serves the oil industry, patriotism that justifies foreign aggression and fundamentalism that calcifies thinking. O’ER THE LAND (2009) is “a meditation on the milieu of elevated threat addressing national identity, gun culture, wilderness, consumption, patriotism and the possibility of personal transcendence. Of particular interest are the ways Americans have come to understand freedom and the increasingly technological reiterations of manifest destiny.” At its symbolic center is

Col. William Rankin, who in 1959 was forced to eject from his F8U fighter jet at 48,000 feet without a pressure suit, only to get trapped for 45 minutes in the up and down drafts of a massive thunderstorm.” The jet pilot survived and became a national hero. (16.9)

THE ILLINOIS PARABLES was part of the 2016 Forum Expanded program. Eleven parables relay historical events in the state of Illinois. They talk of faith, power, technology, exodus, settlement, expulsion, technological development, violence, messianism and resistance. They tell of the brutal eviction of the Cherokee, the foundation of a utopian community by French Icarians, the invention of the nuclear reactor and the murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Illinois functions as a convenient structural ruse, allowing its histories to become allegories that explore how societies are shaped. The film utilizes reenactment, archival footage, observational shooting, inter-titles and voiceover to pose the question of whom or what we endorse, or blame, in our desire to explain the unknown.

Deborah Stratman’s choice to complement the program with THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON by Howard Alk and Mike Gray (1970, Forum 1971) from the Arsenal Archive was not random. The filmmakers were so deeply moved by the brilliance and powers of persuasion of Fred Hampton, the 20-year-old revolutionary and leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, that they spent a year filming his public appearances and activities with the black community, as well as documenting comments made in private. This year turned out to be the last of his life. In the night of 3rd to 4th December 1969, he was killed in a raid by a unit of the Cook Country State’s Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Chicago police and the FBI. The film thus became his obituary. (17.9)

KINGS OF THE SKY (2004) is about resistance, fame - and balance. It follows the tightrope artist Adil Hoxur and his troupe touring the Taklamakan desert, which stretches from the Xingiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China through the western part of the Tarim Basin to Highway 218. The film moves elegantly between travel report and ethnographic poetry and at the same time  supports the preservation of a traditional art form.

An “Archive außer sich” program in cooperation with the Austrian Film Museum and the Deutsches Filminstitut / Filmmuseum. (stss)

arsenal cinema: Routine Pleasures

07:00 pm Cinema 1

Presentation Sisters

Portraits (David Hockney)

Presentation Sisters Tacita Dean
UK 2005 16 mm OV 60 min
Portraits (David Hockney) Tacita Dean
UK 2016 16 mm OV 16 min

Followed by a discussion between Tacita Dean and Katja Müller-Helle
arsenal cinema: WANDA with a Reading

07:30 pm Cinema 2

Lesung von Karolin Meunier


Reading by Karolin Meunier: „Aller-retour et aller“ approx. 30 min
Followed by: *Wanda Barbara Loden USA 1970 35 mm OV 102 min