Kestner Cinémathèque

In our Kestner Cinémathèque, as part of our educational programme, we show various short films that have been selected by the artists and curators as referential accompaniment to the exhibitions.

Selected by Rebecca Ackroyd:

Maya Deren, Meshes of the Afternoon, USA, 1943, dir. Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid, 18 min

Meshes of the Afternoon is an avant-garde experimental film by Maya Deren and Alexander Hackenschmied from 1943. The silent black-and-white film shows surreal and hallucinatory images and follows a nameless woman who lives through a nightmare and eventually commits suicide. The couple intended to address psychological problems such as depression and schizophrenia. Meshes of the Afternoon uses various cinematic techniques to create a dreamlike atmosphere, including slow motion, stop-motion and split-screen effects. The film was originally released silent and was not set to music until 1959.

Beatrice Marchi, Autoritratto Dormiente in 'Der Jungbrunnen', Deutschland, 2019, 5:40 min

The animated video Autoritratto Dormiente in 'The Fountain of Youth' (2019), is inspired by Lucas Cranach the Elder, whose painting The Fountain of Youth 1546) forms the background of the film, in which a doll with closed eyes develops at the beginning. The depiction of the Fountain of Youth - a popular myth of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance - is unusual in many regards, as mostly older women are shown bathing, their bodies contrasting with the usual and idealized depiction of the female body of the time. Marchi's sleeping doll, pedaling relentlessly, is pursued by her own reflection, which at times imitates, supports or hinders her movement. In the end, she seems to have escaped the throng of the painting and, once rejuvenated by the holy water, is able to perform an act of final emancipation.

Julie Becker, Suburban Legend, USA, 1999, 1:44 h

The film Suburban Legend (1999), which originally included an installation with a wooden bench, headphones and a remote control, adapts the theory that when the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon (1972) is superimposed over the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) by starting the first song of the album with the third roar of the MGM lion, remarkable correlations between image and music and even between cultural contexts emerge. The artist herself says that you only get the full effect of the supposed synchronization after consuming cannabis. Mark von Schlegell describes Suburban Legend as a cultural phenomenon: "At a certain point in our nation's history, mothers and fathers in search of their new postmodern selves began to leave large numbers of children in front of televisions, VCRs, stereos and comic books." Today, in the swirling depths of screen content production, Suburban Legend suggests a lineage to the realms of popular conspiracy and mind-altering states that pervade culture today on a very different level.

Selcted by Samson Young:

Recycling Cinema, Ellen Pau, Hong Kong, 1998, 11:40 min

Ellen Pau, Hong Kong's pioneer in the field of moving images, has been trying for more than three decades to show the interdependence of people with their environment. Recycling Cinema records vehicles on a Hong Kong expressway over a 24-hour period, revealing different rhythms and perspectives of the city through the use of long exposures, camera pans and close-ups. Through the skillful interplay of sound and image, Pau sharpens the audience's perception of different frequencies, be it subtle rhythms of the city, historical reverberations or the background noise of human relationships.

In her film Recycling Cinema, Ellen Pau attempts to break through the conventional forward movement of time in film by capturing cars along a coastal road in Hong Kong as they move in different directions. Pau configures the projector to move automatically, creating a dynamic and disorientating effect. This suggests the possibility of an alternative cinema and an interactive form of image viewing.

Drained II, Ellen Pau, Hong Kong, 1989, 5:40 min

Drained II (1989), applied the reduced geometries of modernist abstraction to video, filling the screen with a grid of repeated shots of a performer walking past a door while another performer whirls around and inevitably falls to the floor. Drained II attempts to explore metaphysical beings both on stage and in the electronic medium. Through a constant loop and image segmentation, the work also reflects the physical restlessness of the inhabitants of a dense city center. With Drained II, Pau demonstrates the ability to transform unremarkable video footage into breathtaking visual experiments using the latest editing techniques.

Takashi Ito, Ghost, Japan, 1984, 5:40 min

Ghost is an experimental Japanese short film from 1984, directed by Takashi Ito. Similar to his other films Thunder (1982) and Grim (1984), Ghost was shot on 16 mm film. The film uses the technique of long exposure, working frame by frame to create a ghostly atmosphere and give the impression that the room is haunted by a ghostly entity. The film shows various rooms inside and outside an apartment building. Occasionally, a figure with a flashlight appears, whose beam of light looks like a long trail due to the long exposure; the figure itself appears weightless and fleeting. According to Ito, the inspiration for Ghost was the idea of floating images that came to him during the production of Thunder. Ghost was first shown on September 24, 1985 at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, as part of the "Continuum" program, which presented alternative Japanese films from 1984. The film was later released on DVD along with other works by Ito as part of the Takashi Ito Film Anthology.

Tamas Waliczky, The Garden, Germany, 1992, 0:56 min

In The Garden (1992), we experience the world from the perspective of a two-year-old child. All the objects shown have been edited with the so-called waterdrop perspective, which makes the entire world appear surreal. Shot with a 360-degree camera, the child is always at the center of the video and we experience the world from his perspective. The size of the objects is related to the attention attributed to them. If they are no longer of interest to the child, they become smaller. Waliczky himself says in response to the question "...Is this movie a kind of two-dimensional virtual reality? No, virtual reality means that we construct our artificial world. I am much more interested in the surrounding real world. In this case, it's my daughter's world."

Joseph Cornell, Jack's Dream, USA, 1938, 4:20 min, completed by Lawrence Jordan

Joseph Cornell's experimental short film Jack's Dream transports the viewer into a playful and hypnotic world that oscillates between dream and reality. With his "found art" technique, in which he reuses materials from other works but also gives newly created sequences a found style, he creates suggestive and dreamlike images. The film begins with a puppet show of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. As a story about a dragon attacking a woman and her dog unfolds, sequences of a sinking ship and images of seahorses appear again and again. Finally, the ship is seen sinking completely in front of a sunrise.

Michael Snow, Wavelength, Canada, 1967, 45 min

Wavelength is an avant-garde film from 1967 by the Canadian-American filmmaker Michael Snow. It lasts 45 minutes and explores a space in which various human events take place. It begins with a woman and two men moving a piece of furniture, followed by the woman returning with a friend, the radio turning on and later the mysterious death of an unknown man. The film's camera slowly zooms and changes focus until it finally rests on a photograph of the sea on the wall before the film fades out. This minimalist work is an outstanding example of structural filmmaking that emphasizes simplicity and a fixed camera position. His unique approach to the representation of time, space and narrative structure has left a lasting impact on the world of film.


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