The British Council, Moscow

Royal Netherlands Embassy

Netherlands Royal Embassy in Moscow


(June 24-27, 2002)
 Official program of XXIV Moscow International Film Festival



Montevideo/Times Based Arts, Amsterdam
Support: Netherlands Royal Embassy in Moscow
Presented by Jan Shujren, Netherland 

The following videoprograms present a selection of works out of the 100 video art works coming from the collection of the Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam, which will be made available at the Mediatheque (Moscow, MediaArtLab - for individual viewings and educational screenings). This project and presentation has been realized through a co-operation between the Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts, Amsterdam and MediaArtlab, Moscow, with the generous support from the Netherlands Royal Embassy in Moscow.

Program 1.
Abramovic / Ulay; Terra Degla Dea Madre 
NL, 1984, 17’00

The relations between men and women are a recurrent theme in Marina and Ulay's work. Terra Degla Dea Madre specifically explores the role patterns in southern European culture which are often rooted in age-old traditions. The tape was shot in the Sicilian countryside and depicts men and women's ehaviour during a period of mourning. With the help of the local populace (who are effectively 'performers'), Abramovic and Ulay stage a number of situations in the form of 'tableaux vivants' which express in a highly-charged manner the rituals of male and female mourning. The men look as if they have become a part of the forbidding shapes of the local rocky landscape, while the women seem to be absorbed into the sheltering interiors of their own homes. Terra Degla Dea Madre is more than a semi-documentary, it is a penetrating representation of socially determined structures which assume
almost archetypical dimensions...
Shelly Silver; Meet the People
USA, 1986, 17’00

At first sight Meet The People appears to be an austere documentary about fourteen 'real people' who describe their lives, their dreams and ambitions, and their visions in terms of such everyday issues as work, money and relationships. Slowly but surely you begin to discover more about a particular individual. But during the tape and afterwards (and not simply because of the credits) you come to realize that these are invented characters who are being played by actors. Although some of them are realistic, others are obvious stereotypes who are brimming with clichйs. At that point you also realize that Silver's main concern is not with stories taken from life but with the acquisition of insight into the way in which convincing characters are created. To what extent are you conditioned as a viewer by (for instance) the media or by your own prejudices? And how much must you know about a person before you can believe in them?
Peter Bogers; Nature I
NL, 1986, 8’30

There's nothing funny about Nature I... although what you hear is someone roaring uncontrollably with laughter. The image shows a wide open mouth which computer technology has processed blue and orange. The physical mechanics of laughter are demonstrated by the sight of the tongue and the uvula. The laughter becomes increasingly crazy and satanic, and degenerates into powerful and aggressive bursts of sound. Halfway through this work, these explosions are slowed down so that they become relatively calm and normal-sounding. The image of the mouth changes into the static image of a raised head. Finally the sound ebbs away. The laughter, with which Nature I began, has been denied a reassuring context; it seems to have nothing to do with pleasure. Essentially laughter is in no way innocent: for instance, it is a well-known fact that monkeys laugh when they feel threatened. In a certain sense Nature I also reveals something 'primal' about laughter...
Klaus vom Bruch; Why We Men adore Technology: Das Duracellband
GER, 1980, 10’46

Part of a series of three tapes (‘The Propellor Tape’; ‘The Allies Tape’; ‘The Duracell Tape’) with the ultimate ironic title of 'Warum wir Manner die Technik so lieben’ (Why we Men adore Technology), in which vom Bruch questions technology's nature and its goals. Technology (which, it is often assumed, will help us build a better world) is also a weapon that leads to destruction and oppression. All too often, technological developments have their origins in the machinery of warfare. Equally technology is often propagated and introduced to 'man' as if it were per se seductive, desirable and even erotic. Vom Bruch demonstrates this by means of technology itself. Through his virtuoso 
editing he reduces sequences of images to just a few seconds. the soundtrack (which is loud, severe and almost physically tangible) imbues the images with extra power. In The Duracell Tape, the battery, the food of technology and technology itself, is imbued with a power of its own. The accelerating rhythm and eafening sound of the battery's rapidly and constantly repeated images define all the other images: from inane and 'innocent' toys that are totally dependent on batteries to the bombing of Nagasaki. Because of these images'juxtaposition, the toys lose their innocence and the air strike is shown to be the consequence of a stupid and even fatal mechanism.
Bill Viola; Anthem
USA, 1983, 11’00

In this tape the anthem is 'sung' by a young girl whose image appears ten times in a vaulted church-like space. The whole work is based on the sound of her scream which has been slowed down a great many times. The girl's image is alternated with stills of city scenes, desolate industrial terrain, a tree trunk, shots of an interior, a close-up of an eye, recordings of a bloody operation, intestines, people on a beach... Despite their apparent heterogeneity, none of these images is arbitrary or without its implications. Through the tape's composition, the girl appears to be a seer of human actions and interventions. So her singing becomes both a credo and an indictment. Anthem is a visionary song in which time is extended within the girl's scream; these knife-edge images may become 'transparent' for just one moment.
Program 2.
Gary Hill; Primarily Speaking
USA, 1981, 19’45

Hill views this complex tape (which also exists as an installation) as a key to his entire oeuvre. It concerns the relations and interactions between language and image and the viewer's place as both transmitter and receiver. Two small frames filled with a rapid succession of images of apparently ordinary or arbitrary objects and situations are located against a 'test card' background of stripes in changing colours and patterns. At the same time you hear Hill rhythmically recite a text which is sometimes interrupted by a digital tune. It is extremely difficult to follow the images and to listen
to the text. You want to discover the relation between the text and the image but it somehow 
evades you. What is clear is that each spoken syllable results in an edited image and that that rhythmic editing jumps from the left-hand to the right-hand frame depending on whether the left-hand or the right-hand loudspeaker is being used. Moving the image through text. The images demonstrate the time and space occupied by the words. Is the text directed at you? Or at the images? Who are the 'we' on whose behalf the text is sometimes speaking? We the viewers or the words themselves? In 
Primarily Speaking you lose yourself in the narrow space that separates word from image...
Wim Liebrand; Perro Caliente
NL, 1991, 3’00

'For Laika, first dog in space' reads the dedication of Liebrand's Perro Caliente (Spanish for 'hot dog'). It concerns the imaginary and mysterious space voyage of two cosmonauts and the 'hot dog' Laika. Liebrand evokes an alienating and truly unearthly atmosphere through his intense, 'condensing' of images that refer to this journey. White flowers are found in the blackness of space. However, it remains unclear as to whether this is a happy voyage: the flowers burn and Laika the laboratory animal did not choose her cosmic fate; for she will never again return to earth. Liebrand seems to doubt the good intentions of Man's urge to experiment and expand.
Peter Bogers; Life by Life
NL, 1988, 6’30

Life by Life depicts life's vulnerability in stylized but razor-sharp images. A pulsating temple, a most delicate area of the human body, is covered by the head of a fish - the organism to which the origins of life can possibly be traced. The fish's gills move in the same rhythm as the temple: life by life. The first image is subsequently replaced by the fish which is suddenly decapitated with a knife. The mutual 
relations and structures of the edited images and the sound's precision and suggestiveness create the sensation that the person will suffer the same fate as the fish. Chop! Chop! Chop! Your loss, my gain. Image sequences are repeated. The rhythmic ticking of a clock replaces the sound of a heartbeat...
Wim Liebrand; Bare Hands
NL, 1992, 3’00

Bare Hands is a sequel to the hectic space flight which Liebrand launched in Perro Caliente. In Bare Hands we see that this voyage takes place on two intersecting levels: in space and on a motorway. It seems that the spacemen and the dog have never really left Planet Earth behind them. The whirling sequences of images and the suggestive snatches of sound draw the viewer into the dream, or the nightmare, of Bare Hands. This tape also contains subtle indications that it concerns a science fiction that is no longer innocent and that Liebrand is questioning the aims and price of 'progress'.
Bill Viola; Chott-El-Djerid (A Portrait In Light And Heat)
USA, 1980, 28’00

Chott El-Djerid is a large dried-up salt-water lake in the Tunesian Sahara. Viola was brought there by his quest to discover a location that was nothing more than a flat landscape and a sky, where 'what you can see is the limit of what you could see'. So that meant a place with the minimum of visual information such as a desert, a prairie or an ocean. Viola's challenge was to record this place and convey a sense of development, change and perceptual discovery.
Chott El-Djerid begins with shots of snowy landscapes and winter prairies, impressions that contrast symmetrically with the images of warm, vibrating deserts which are ultimately just as alienating. The shimmering mirages and distorted landscapes, buildings and objects that subsequently appear are the result of a combination of the high temperature, the light and the camera. To record these images Viola was generally using powerful telephoto lenses that emphasized the effect of hot air rising. At Chott El-Djerid Viola discovered a space where the dream world seems to combine with the world of waking reality. Viola has surpassed not only the borders of reality's perception, of what can be physically observed, he has also transformed the act of viewing into a mental experience.
Program 3.
Guillaume Graux (B); P.D.O.A. (Public Display of Affection
B, 2000, 24'

Inspired by the notion of ‘non-places’ and soap opera’s, P.D.O.A. examines various forms of public displays of affection in the contemporary city. Switching between real life and staged situations, various scenes take place at locations we come across everyday, until the lines of factand fiction, trivial and universal, and specifically private/public become blurred. People float around from one space to another, on an endless yourney where they wallow in a hyperromantic reality until spaces become redifined and borders disappear. Everyday space becomes a non-space, disconnected from it’s historical identity.
Yael Bartana (Israel); Trembling Time 
NL, 2001, 6'20

A memorial scene in a tunnel. Automobiles and their drivers move within a vacuum of time, resulting in a dreamingly captivating as well as disturbingly alienating image. There are not many things that can make the traffic on a motorway come to a standstill. In a place where people collectively do the same thing - move from A to B - the reason for stopping has to be more urgent than the individual will. In Trembling Time, we witness such a situation. The road is full of stationary cars, all facing the same way, the occupants are getting out to stare motionlessly into the distance, where they will be going. Waiting until they can drive on, until they can continue their journey. The traffic starts to flow again, and then stops once more, but the motion is unavoidable. The people are on their way as part of an endless stream. Bartana clears the way for the viewers to make up their own story from the images. She uses various techniques to make room for different meanings: the course of time is upset by the editing; the images are slower, and flow wonderfully smoothly into each other. The situation on the road gradually changes into a performance, a rhythm of forms and colours, light and shadow. What we see is no ordinary traffic jam; the impatience that comes with a tailback has made place for serene resignation. (Jaap Vinken/Martine van Kampen)
Bart Dijkman (NL); Dhyn Ftejli (Kill your promises, darling)
NL, 2001, 6'
In Dhyn Ftejli (Kill your promises, darling) a story is being told by sound and image alone. Although the sound is, as always, dominating in Dijkman's fiction, here the images seem to be the connecting elements. Put in a repetitive video loop, we see a car driving towards us on a 
sand road, disappearing out of our sight to re-appear again from out of the cloud of dust it left behind. With every re-appearing of the car, 
the video-sequence is played with a different sound-layer, thus adding new dimensions and meaning to it, and a true thriller is revealing 
before your eyes. In a bizarre way, the epilogue introduces a seemingly unknown Estonian film maker, to whom the video is dedicated.
Kurt d'Haeseleer (B); File 
B, 2000, 25'
A dated relationship goes off the rails and two people lose each other in a world of overdrive.
'File' explores the bandwith between representation and immersion in showing a complex world, with references to video clip, essay, action film, sociological study, documentary, soap and commercials, all of this 
intertwined in a hermetic lump of sensations.

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