November 2009

We celebrate Richard Serra's 70th birthday

Special distribution offer celebrating Richard Serra’s 70th birthday:
Richard Serra's film and video works in a program of three scenarios for reduced rental fee

Sculpture – man – space: These are the coordinates that American sculptor Richard Serra is concerned with. His films and video pieces from the 1960s and 70s focus on the lines connecting them. Man becomes the object of his own perception, sculpture becomes a medium: Communication structures and power relations are experienced as process. The moving image possesses a materiality: Like almost no other filmic work, that of Richard Serra shows the now historical peculiarity of the medium, the relation of form and content prior to the digital image: The films in which close-ups of his hands shape the filmic space, as well as the documentary films are shot on 16mm film. On the other hand, the pieces conceived as happenings or performances dealing with recording mediums and state power are shot on video. arsenal distribution has recently included the complete film and video works of Richard Serra in its program.

On November 2nd 2009 Richard Serra turned 70. Celebrating this anniversary we offer special rental conditions for his films and videos in a program of 3 scenarios. The special offer is valid until January 31st 2010 (date of booking, not of screening): 900€ instead of the usual 1500€ for a combined booking of all three scenarios. All films and videos can also be booked individually of course, however for regular rental fees. For all inquiries and booking requests please contact us at

Scenario 1: A hand tries to catch a falling piece of lead. A glowing block of steel is transported through the production hall by a crane. Steel workers in Bochum report.

Scenario 2: Two people measure a window frame.

Scenario 3: Two people accused of murder can influence their sentence and that of their co-defendants by making a confession. The same situation is transferred to a TV show. Do we decide in favor of ourselves or the others? And do we make the same decision in front of the camera?

Scenario 1:

HAND CATCHING LEAD 1968 16mm 3’30
In HANDS CATCHING LEAD, Serra’s first film, his right hand is in frame and he tries to catch pieces of lead as they are dropped through the frame. The hand opens and closes as it tries to grasp the falling lead growing more and more weary with repeated attempts.

HANDS TIED 1968 16mm 6’
HANDS TIED is the performance of a feat, which lasts as long as it takes Serra, whose hands are tied with rope inside the frame, to untie the knots.

HAND SCRAPING 1968 16mm 4’
HANDS SCRAPING reduces the frame to one sequential structure in which the action demonstrates a reductio ad absurdum, for more energy is expensed at the end to do seemingly less work. The film involves a particular kind of choreography for hands.

HAND LEAD FULCRUM 1968 16mm 2’
In HAND LEAD FULCRUM the artist shows to his own hands silmpe natural Phenomena such as the effects of gravity, time and physical forces. Serra moves his arm from the top of the frame very slowly and the film ends when it has reached the bottom of the frame.

STEELMILL 1979 16mm 28’
Richard Serra and the art historian Clara Weyergraf shot this film in Heinrichshütte in Hattingen, where Serra, until the end of this project in 1987, used to have his steel sculptures fabricated. A silent, stiking film, which juxtaposes the forces of violent machinery and the human scale, and shows the physical activity of the steel workers.

COLOR AID 1971 16mm 33’
COLOR AID takes it’s title from the brand name of packs of colored papers used in art making and teaching. The colors are stacked randomly and shot in close-up; each one acts as a color field which registers shifts in the grain of the paper and the film.

Scenario 2:

ANXIOUS AUTOMATION features two camera views of Joan Jonas, who performs a series of four movements while the cameras zoom in and out. Jonas' movements and the zoom speeds of the camera combine to offer many variations and relationships between the motions.

FRAME 1969 16mm 21’
The structure of FRAME demonstrates the disparity in perception between what is seen by the cameraman looking through the lens and what is seen by a person looking directly at the same space.

TINA TURNING 1969 16mm 3’
With Tina Girouard.
Tina is spinning around till she dissappears from the frame. A performance.

Visual essay that studies a gently rotating railroad turnbridge. Fixed-camera positions emphasize erector-like shots.

Scenario 3:

Tossing a lump of lead from hand to hand, Serra explores the hypothetical dilemma of what to do when facing an attacker in your house: "If you hear a burglar downstairs, should you pick up a gun or not pick up a gun?"

TELEVISION DELIVERS PEOPLE is a seminal work in the now well-established critique of popular media as an instrument of social control that asserts itself subtly on the populace through "entertainments," for the benefit of those in power—the corporations that mantain and profit from the status quo.

BOOMERANG 1974 Video 10’
“This is a tape which analyzes its own discourse and processes as it is being formulated. The language of Boomerang and the relation between the description and what is being described is not arbitrary. Language and image are being formed and revealed as they are organized.” (Richard Serra)

Richard Serra focuses on broadcasting as a corporate monopoly. Acts out the game- theory strategy of "cops and robbers," ironically criticizing the medium while remaining within it.