ORTung International Interdisciplinary Symposium for Artists in Austria / Europe
23 04 - 13 05 2018: Hintersee (Flachgau), Austria
Choreography Of The Frame
07 11 - 15 12 2018: Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna
Group exhibition / 07 11 2018 Opening
Standbild / Immeuble,
The Shooting (in progress),
Fra(g)me(nt)s Of Camille,
Descending A Staircase / In Shifts,
Penelope / In The Scenery / Reflecting / Relations.
A Theoretical Comedy,
BILLBOARD / prospects modifiés,
Prospects / split,
The Content (in progress)
Fra(g)me(nt)s Of Camille,
Speed Of Life,
IMAfiction portrait #08 Electric Indigo,
Penelope / In The Scenery / Reflecting / Relations. A Theoretical Comedy,
Un divertissement d'amour,
Des souvenirs vagues,
In The Remaking (in progress),
La petite illusion,
Composition Set // Image Transformed // Mozart Moved (Mozart Minute),
Der Kopf des Vitus Bering,
|VISUALISATIONS OF SOUND
Take The Bus,
The Future Of Human Containment,
Chorprobe / Choir Practice
2017 / Single channel video / 16:9 / colour / sound / 2:41 min
In the frame of the residency project Was Anderes? I conceived a small piece for a choir. The reenactment of this choir practice was both
choreography and social interaction as well as performance
and rehearsal. This scenic fragment was the attempt to connect and combine our various approaches responding to the introducing question in a
playful performative way, addressing communality, community and the collective itself. We performed and filmed the reenactment on site in Vairano.
The result is the film fragment Chorprobe.
Facing the current populist developments in Western politics and society, it seemed to be useful and relevant to examine and revise popular and
established terms in relation to their social and philosophical meaning. In order to grasp the notions of our time, we wanted to dispute these
developments from an artistic perspective.
In an experimental setting, by collecting and developing methods of re-appropriating, re-connecting, re-understanding and embodying terms we
investigated the experience of meaning of (socio)political terms.
Despite our diverse, individual ways of investigating and questioning
we were collectively and continuously collaborating on instructions for an appropriate choreography within our social frame and on the depictions of
personal strategies of social (inter)action. We were consistently searching, creating and collecting notions, vocabulary and ideas for our adaptive
alphabet using new possibilities of perception, connotation, contextualisation and interpretation.
An essential experimental stage of our reflections and investigations was learning and understanding by doing or acting: by taking action technical
or social processes can be reconstructed, tracked or reenacted.
Zusammen (:) was anderes (!)
After 4 weeks of searching, collecting, comprehending and developing a new vocabulary, (self) investigations and developments of
action strategies, we would be able to start the filling our abédédaire – C for Choir, Z for Zusammen, …
The Sasso residency collective in July/August 2017 consisted of performer Nicolas Galeazzi, artist Maia Gusberti, graphic designer Miriam Hempel,
typographer and graphic designer Nik Thoenen and Michaela Schwentner.
2016 / Single or multi-channel video installation / 1,85:1 or 16:9 / colour / sound / 9:40 min
This short film is a miniature about gazes and perception,
about the experience of observing and being observed.
The film consists of just one long, tableau-like shot including
a quarter circle pan shot. The narrative structure's vagueness suspends and questions the boundaries of reality and illusion.
What do we see, when we look? What do we see, when we watch? What do we learn,
what do we know then?
Can we rely on our perception, since it is just a partial aspect, one perspective of reality?
The vague and intimate staging creates a surreal, oneiric atmosphere accompanied by a mysterious effect
which generates a confusing feeling – we are exposed to the act of observing and thus forced to be voyeurs.
The film is a kind of a "gestell" – a framework for reflections
on the essentials and mechanics of film as well as on film production itself. In this sense, the make up scene reveals the actress's
transformation into the film figure. Thus, it also refers to Eleanor Antin's video performance Representational Painting from 1971
in which the act of putting on make-up as a traditional mode of self-expression was explored and staged, amplifying the observational aspect.
Also, connections to Ingmar Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock are at hand when it comes to the concept of the figure(s):
both figure and idea refer to Bergman’s Persona on the level of the internal conception, on the level of external conception to Hitchcock’s Rear Window.
In the multi-channel installation Personne permanente 4-8 selected takes, depending on the spatial situation,
are arranged in a parallel and synchronised way — with their subtle variations and
congruent moments — and held together with the soundtrack of two of these takes. Thus, the film making itself as well as the performative act
becomes the narrative: we can understand the chronologic process of the creation of this cinematic action image.
By this, the work is questioned concerning the role and the claim of truth of the images: Is each take a real take or possibly just a rehearsing
part? Is the rehearsal staged or is it real? In this iterative process of repeating and rehearsing, will there be one particular take that is
most convincing? Are all takes equal? Which criteria are therefore crucial?
Standbild / Immeuble
2016 / Installation / 16:9 / colour / multi-channel sound / 5:00 min, loop
Standbild / Immeuble is a time-wise condensend and spatialised version of the
cinematic miniature Personne. A partial scene is transformed into an image, condensed to a kind
of film still and at the same time temporally expanded.
The image shows nothing but two women standing at opposite
windows watching each other through their binoculars.
These women are kind of lookalikes — one we can see from inside (an apartment),
the other one is visible only from the outside, we can only see her upper body parts.
Beyond that, her face is covered by the binoculars.
Is this a mirrored image? Is it one woman confronted with an image of an earlier herself,
is it a kind of flashback? Are they two different women? Why are they looking at each other so persistently?
There is a kind of desire pervading the situation, the image — still it‘s not clear what kind of desire it is.
This uncertain feeling of some hidden desire or emotion is even more emphasised by an architectonic
eversion of the projection which suspends the solidity and the original statement of the image:
it seems to diverge by the specific spatial setup of the projection (the image is projected onto two panels
leaning in the corner of a space leaving a gap where they overlap).
2016 / Multi-channel video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 4:00 min
A model for a film. The set design is an assemblage
of several small scenes.
The scenery includes some rather iconic images which refer to a sophisticated Europe and
its highly developed state of civilisation with its democratic, political and critical consciousness.
Since it is to be feared that Europe is going to
abandon its cultural standards, we as European citizens have to question this
so-called system of values and even a lot more of our ideas.
This model film is supposed to be transformed into
a musical performance with 2 chorus ensembles interpreting the dialogues.
(Women Under Influence)
2016 / Photographic series / Pigmented inkjet prints / variable sizes
The cinematic (action) image as a spatial object, providing a new perception
Cinematic images of iconic films featuring modern women under a certain kind of influence, though,
are transferred into sculptures created of working and household tools.
By this transference and the shifting of frames reflections on aspects of work and conditions of artistic working processes may be initiated.
The sculptures are named after the main female characters of these particular films:
Camille (Le mépris, J.-L. Godard, 1963), Myrtle (Opening Night,
John Cassavetes, 1977), Martha (Martha, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974),
Catherine (Jules et Jim, François Truffaut, 1962) and Giuliana
(Il deserto rosso, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964).
fig. 1-5: Camille, Myrtle, Martha, Giuliana, Catherine (from top left to bottom left)
The Remains Of Cinema, KM— Künstlerhaus Graz, exhibition views
Fragments of Camille
Fra(g)me(nt)s Of Camille
2016 / Single channel video / 16:9 / colour / 30 sec
The fragmentation of the digital reproduction of Camille from the series Figures resulted
in the Fine Art Print Fragments of Camille and in the video work Frames of Camille.
Frames of Camille
Speed Of Life
2016 / Single channel video / 16:9 / colour / sound / 4 min
Contribution to the artistic research project Dizziness -
A Resource, a cooperation of the Institute for Differential Psychology of
Karl-Franzens-University Graz, FWF PEEK, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Kunsthaus Graz.
The work won the 3rd place of the competition
The Shooting (in progress)
2015-2016 / Multi-channel video installation
Two sprinklers are "shooting" each other with
The installation refers to a film dialogue.
Playing Martha (Augarten version)
Performance + multichannel video installation / colour / appr. 10 min
Fragmentary reenactment of the 720º scene from
Martha by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
The renowned camera shot is transformed into
an installative performance with 4-6 performers and
their particular interpretation and enactment of
Martha, actually their individual mode of slipping
into a role by putting on the figure's costume.
IMAfiction portrait #08 Electric Indigo
2015 / Single channel video / 16:9 / colour / sound / 22:00 min
Video portrait of electronic music dj and composer
Camera: Andreas Gockel, Michaela Schwentner.
Commissioned by IMA Institute of Media Archeology.
Descending A Staircase / In Shifts
2015 / Performance + video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 33:36 minutes
A woman in a yellow bathrobe is descending a staircase - over and over again.
This image of action refers to the film scene from Le mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963).
The main "character" is in fact the significant prop of the scene, the yellow bathrobe.
The scene is performed by 3 different performers over the course of a day.
The piece is at the same time the reenactment of a film shooting, and hence the
reenactment of Camille's role, a reenactment of an actress' work, a reenactment of
Brigitte Bardot's performance and furthermore a demonstration of variations of acting.
It is the reenactment of the work of an actress, a spatial intervention, a performance,
the actual work of the performers and the video installation in public space.
Descending A Staircase / In Shifts was commissioned for Festival der Regionen 2015,
Installation: Festival der Regionen 2015
In The Scenery /
A Theoretical Comedy.
2013-2015 / Single channel video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 18:45 min
The film shows two women sitting in the scenery of a theatre or in the backdrop of a film set.
It is not clear whether these two figures are already acting or whether they are waiting for their scene, trying to kill time by telling stories
and reflecting on film-immanent matters.
Are they outside their role, outside the film set or are they acting in a film which is about two women playing in a play or a film,
waiting for their scene and telling stories which (seemingly) have nothing to do with th situation they are in? Are they rehearsing?
Repeatedly text inserts are displayed which show stage directions but also questions addressing the lead figure Penelope,
asked by an invisible audience or other film figures as well as her reactions on them.
Some scenes are repeated several times, but still it is not a rehearsal, but instead a film that uses montage of image and sound
to transfer figures from one context into another or a new one and by that question the previous one and furthermore question the production
per se and its aesthetic realisation.
This short film is about the story of Penelope, though a contem-
porary and emancipated model of this fictive figure. To create
her story Penelope is on one hand knotting and interweaving fragments of her story, of stories, on the other hand she is reflecting on film-immanent matters
also by reenacting several (iconic) film scenes.
Fragments of stories are interlinked and interwoven to assem-
blages. These fragmented and re-arranged narrative threads which refer to different contexts create a new narration-image.
The level of narrative partly follows the principle of the mise en abîme. The formal level also follows this principle and consists
of fragmented images and reflections. The reflection on narration itself and on projection has its equivalent
on the formal level in the sense of mirroring.
Screenings: Diagonale Graz 2014, Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz 2014, Cairo Video Festival 2014;
Part of the Les Rencontres Internationales vidéothèque Paris
The Content (in progress)
2015 / Single channel sound installation / 10 min
In this work the technical content of a film is described by voice-over. There are no images, only black frames.
2013-2016 / Single channel video / 16:9 / colour / sound / 4:45 min
This short film essay is both cinematic reconstruction and staging
and refers to a pop-cultural moment of 20th century history.
I was interested in the intersection of historic moments and aesthetical practices and in the examination of our relationship to
collective historic and visual experience.
In a sequence of about five minutes A Contest shows two young female performers in a gymnastic performance situation.
The minimalistic setting of the scene filmed in a real but still staged studio unfolds in static shots and shows the performers primarily
in long shots by considering the symmetry of the image.
The performers movements equal real practising movements of figures skaters, still the reduced image composition lets the choreography appear
The formal aesthetic approach to the historic event which is grounded in the collective memory and visual archive on one hand and to the
presentation of subjective experience on the other hand result in a stylised image which is supposed to merge into a timeless form.
It was not my intention though, to dissolve the historic event in the aesthetic, but to objectify it by reducing all narrative moments.
The negotiated historic event was a spectacular case in the history of US-American figure skating: during a decider preparation for a championship
one of two rivals was attacked and incapacitated; the other athlete got linked with the attack and was subsequently suspended from all further
Screening: Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz 2015
ABDUL SHARIF BARUWA // EVA BODNAR // HERBERT DE COLLE // PLAMEN DEJANOFF // HEINRICH DUNST // MARINA FAUST // VERONIKA HAUER // GERHARD HIMMER // SIGGI HOFER // NICOLAS JASMIN // DANIEL KNORR //
ELKE SILVIA KRYSTUFEK // SONIA LEIMER // JOHANN LURF // CHRISTIAN MAYER // ALBERT MAYR //JOSH MÜLLER // MICHAEL PART // ELISABETH PENKER // ROMAN PFEFFER // JOSEF RAMASEDER // BERNHARD RAPPOLD //
FRANZ SCHUBERT // CONSTANZE SCHWEIGER // MICHAELA SCHWENTNER // AXEL STOCKBURGER // CHRISTIAN STOCK
2014 / Frottage
3x live frottage Blickle Raum Vienna 2014
Reconstruction of botanical archives
by reenacting representative complexities
Pigmented inkjet prints + Baryt prints / Series of 7 images / different sizes
What is paradise?
This photographic work is a derivative of one of my previous film projects
Prospects: Images of plants in botanical gardens and parks in the
Mediterranean. While for that film I was mainly interested in the garden
as a manifestation of paradise, for this work it was the plants themselves
— in their appearance as mute witnesses of political conquest.
The prefix re- in the work title refers to the reconstruction of an image,
to the technical reproduction of the photographic material and on
the other hand it’s associated with reparation which refers to Walter
Benjamin’s Angel of History.
All depicted plants (monstera deliciosa, ficus elastica, dypsis lutescens,
livistona rotundifolia, banana) originate from regions which have been
colonised and exploited. Thus, among others these plants found their ways
to botanical gardens for educational reasons and to our living spaces for
Conflicts from the past can’t be rectified ex post facto, but our approach
to history can be changed by awareness-raising. Since the plants are
part of the barbaric European history of colonisation, the photographs
are black and white.
The pictures of the assembled plants in botanical gardens and parks,
mostly from the Mediterranen were printed, copied, rearranged with indoor
plants from my studio and photographed again. The result are highly
condensed and at the same time spatialised photographs in which the
substantial relation between the historical and the contemporary is
intensified by technical re-production.
In The Remaking
After Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (in progress)
In The Remaking is a film essay reflecting
the process of film making and its mechanisms.
Reenacting the making of the film, this work demonstrates my ongoing examination
of personal and historic (collective) memory
and the transformation of the mechanics of film
into a work with poetic potential.
Un divertissement d'amour
2012 / Video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 11 min
This film is a kind of rearrangement of Plato's Symposion based on philosophic essays
on love and it is also inspired by the Surrealists' Recherches sur la sexualité.
The film structure refers specifically to Sergej
M. Eisenstein's definition of the mise en cadre and concentrates precisely on the possibilities
of revealing or hiding substantial film-immanent information.
Screenings: Diagonale Graz 2013, Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz 2013, school, Vienna 2013, Cairo Video Festival 2014
Watch excerpt on vimeo.
2012 / Multi-channel video installation / 16:9 / colour / 1 min
This work was created during my residency at a remote place near Rome. It emerged from the situation I was in there for the period of
one month. The work was a general examination of time and transience.
Installation: imPORT, Studio PORT, Vienna 2012
(In Theory And Practice)
2012 / Installation + performance / Tank tops, zips, fabrics, belts, cords
Bag or dress?
Bag or raincoat ... ?
Content as surprise!
Wearing or carrying!
Brand carrier, a status symbol
Instrument of social positioning.
Transporter of social messages.
A kind of Blödmaschine*
*© Markus Metz and Georg Seeßlen
Presentation performance at Reheat Festival, Nickelsdorf 2012
BILLBOARD / prospects modifiés
2012 / Multi-channel video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 8 min
Modified version of the experimental documentary
The term prospect is used in a more
condensed way, in the way of a promise, in the way
travel agencies use it for their holiday offers.
For this work interviews from the documentary have
been reduced to simple but catchy slogans.
Installation: RHIZ SCREENS, rhiz, Vienna 2012
Prospects / split
2011 / Single or multi-channel video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 32 min
A film essay about women in the Mediterranean who
talk about their ideas of paradise / Utopia.
It consists of interviews with women from this area and images of "paradisiac" places like public parks, private gardens, botanic gardens.
The video is an assemblage of these images and the interviews and it is accompanied by field recordings and subtle sound pieces which have been composed particularly for this work.
Installation: GRENZWELTEN / LEERE LINIEN, Kulturbrücke Fratres 2013
Installation view Kulturbrücke Fratres [A/CZ]
La route du paradis
2011 / Fixing pins on cardboard, framed. 34 cm x 22 cm
Side project of Prospects.
The map of fixing pins shows the cities
in the Mediterranean area I visited for my research and interview work.
SAUNA, brut Konzerthaus, Vienna 2010
It Will All Be Differerent
2011 / Text on memo-cube 11 cm x 11 cm and less
Error correction by repetition?
Or realisation by repetition?
Can a wish become true if you repeatedly
write it down some hundred times?
AFFENARBEIT, Area53, Vienna 2011
Des souvenirs vagues
2009 / Multi-channel video installation / 16:9 / colour / sound / 8 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
Des souvenirs vagues is a short film essay about visual memories and their repetitions, shifts and refractions
and about desire.
Even the choice of the film material and aesthetics is an utterance of desire: the seemingly analog film aesthetics has been created digitally.
In this way it corresponds to desire as a longing for past times with the only existence of analog film.
It’s also a poetic reference, a blank which senses desire, which refers to an unknown, an unpronounceable desire.
The film's main elements are vaguely remembered, kind of stereotyped scenes en miniature - they could be from a film,
but also someone's personal memories or desires.
Like in many of my works this film negotiates (re)construc-
tions of female role models, depictions and images of women which are formed by the absence
of the body and by almost pure reflection. In this way, only traces or fragments of actions or the body are perceptible.
Screenings (selection): Triennale 1.0 Linz 2010, Diagonale Graz 2009, Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz 2009,
B3 Biennial of the Moving Image Frankfurt/Main 2017
Watch excerpt on vimeo
2008 / Multi-channel video installation / 4:3 / colour / sound / 6 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
Alpine Passage is a film comprising individual images about a journey across the Swiss and Austrian Alps.
The mountains, impressive as a painting, and in front
of them a sort of architecture that enables either a panoramic or a close view.
Screenings (selection): Diagonale Graz 2009, Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz 2009,
BREAKING GROUND tour programme
Watch excerpt on vimeo
2008 / C-print 40 x 50 cm
2007 / Single channel video installation / 4:3 / colour / sound / 9 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
Snow, fog, clouds and in the midst of it all, a barely per-
ceptible massif. Or, better yet, a white noise from which contours gradually emerge and just as steadily dissolve back into:
As though ghost lights in the digital image-fog that dominates the expanse of this composition.
A mountain peak, only vaguely discernible for the longest time, that halfway disappears again the moment it appears.
The starting material for Bellevue are webcam recordings from Grossglockner that she collected for months and condensed into a
nine-minute time image.
Schwentner's method benefits from the rigid takes, mainly because within them, the interplay of appearing and eluding,
of revealing and concealing, can develop the greatest possible effect. Thus, the figure of the mountain uncovers and covers itself in a constant,
modulating movement: ridges and slopes peel from the whiteness of the surroundings, to then immediately vanish again within it.
Accompanied by a subtle ambient-like rustle, which Schwentner gathered from the direct transformation of the image into sound data,
the vision continually clears up and becomes disarranged. As though the mountain, seen and photographed millions of times,
does not want to disclose its identity so simply; yes, as though the apparently banal weather panorama recordings harbor
a key of sorts to the disappearance of the supposedly most unchangeable natural things.
The beautiful view is fundamentally blurred as a result of Bellevue. Not by things incidentally blocking it, such as snow, fog, or clouds,
but by a basic instability in the process of (electronic) seeing itself. The more persistently it pursues the phenomena, the more they keep themselves covered from time to time. (Christian Höller)
Exhibitions (selection): ALPINE DESIRE, ACF New York 2011; LANDS END, Shedhalle Zurich 2010; LANDSCAPE 2.0, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst Oldenburg 2009; SCREENING TERRITORIES / Field Textures, Transmediale Berlin 2009
2013 / Installation / prepared table, projector, variable size / video 4:3 / loop
A projection equipment which has been turned into a space-defining sculpture, an adjustment with a new prefix.
A miniature, adapted for a small sized exhibition space and
its site-specific conditions.
The projected film itself is a demonstration of adapted relations: Images which were produced by webcams
and saved, collected, sorted, assembled and animated, are available via mouse-click.
The poetic moment is generated from the apparatus,
the installation, the illusionist machine, is detected. The apparatus is moved in its true light
and therefore into the centre of perception.
Installation: K48, Vienna 2013
WORKS WITH SOUND / SOUND ARTISTS:
2011 / Sound installation / Loop
The sound installation Chanter toujours
is an allegory: a special sound is extracted from its original context and is transformed into an new one:
the always singing cricket prolongs the summer and should be – as sound intervention – hopefully a nice surprise in the cold season.
At the same time Chanter toujours is an infinitive invitation to sing or make sound - more and almost any time!
Installation: KRPYTOPHON, Hörstadt Linz 2011.
Composition Set //
Image Transformed //
2006 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 1 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
The idea was to transform a picture of Mozart on
the basis of a new composition arranged with
the so-called musical dice game, sound-controlled manipulation and also a dismantling of the common clean
and kitschy Mozart image.
A bright frontal picture postcard view of a Mozart statue is turned into a rough, decaying picture.
This turnaround within an extremely short period of time also represents life's progress and decay.
The alteration is equivalent to a life cycle: The lush color from the beginning fades, the leaves shrivel,
the tree disappears, the postcard with Mozart's picture yellows and becomes a Mozart of stone.
The manipulation on the musical level was inspired
by the musical dice game as played in Mozart's days.
The composer himself wrote short pieces and re-arranged the individual measures according to a roll
of the dice. For the film short samples of violin concerto #3 and symphony #38 have been used and processed.
Commissioned work for Mozartjahr 2006.
Screenings (selection): Diagonale Graz 2007, Crossing Europe Linz 2007
2006 / Video installation / 4:3 / colour / sound / 9 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
A bridge with an arched metal structure stretching over it
is visible on a white field. The colours are subdued - grey
and black, various shades of brown, blue and green - though
they seem quite intense on the light background. The places connected by the bridge aren't visible; portrayed as an isolated structure, it becomes the focus of an analysis in the medium of film.
In contrast to some of the other videos made by Michaela Schwentner, the subject is easily recognisable in this case.
At the same time the artist discovers an individual life in the architecture, which lets the concrete form slip into abstract patterns.
The perspective shifts repeatedly, and different views of the structure appear. One shot fades into the next, and the movement of the pixels can literally
be observed. This creates graphic and painterly moments, the play of light and shadow, lines and planes turns into a hypnotic game of deception.
The camera's gaze is directed at the structure's details and
unusual views so that individual portions of the bridge no longer seem to be bound to a certain function, and other fields of association open up in its formal
The geometric shapes resemble sketches, the cables between the bridge and its superstructure are like drawn lines, which lends the originally monumental
structure of concrete and steel something fragile, translucent and with that a buoyant lightness.
In contrast to a sketch, however, swinging also makes the three-dimensional character of its subject tangible, not least through the use of the soundtrack
which was also created
by Michaela Schwentner.
The shimmering of the dimensions and the materiality of the representation are underlined by the audio level.
Each kind of material seems to have its own characteristic sound, and after electronic alteration it creates an acoustic landscape surrounding the bridge,
which seems to «swing» from time to time. (Andrea Pollach)
Screenings (selection): Diagonale Graz 2007, Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz 2007
La petite illusion
2006 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 4 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
A little story of passions is told in La petite illusion: heavy breathing garnished by a jazzy bass line, a kiss, a woman falls into water at night.
While the work's title is an ironic reference to Jean Renoir's 1937 «La grande illusion», the association is a dead end: Neither the images nor the soundtrack contains a direct quotation of Renoir's
pacifist fable, nor is a similar motif touched upon. The patina of early sound film which is celebrated in La petite illusion stands as the sole vague connection
to the «grande illusion» - the sound and the look, the aesthetic stereotypes of Francophone cinema made between the wars.
Michaela Schwentner`s chromatically ascetic electronic manipulation of found
sounds and images is a study of emotional images from the history of cinema which is carefully kept in the air. The story told in La petite illusion is itself a kind
of little illusion: It has the mere suggestion of a plot, a kind of mini-melodrama with built-in interference. While the narrative lines remain unresolved, irrationally linked as if in a dream, the film's images
themselves become unstable: They seem to melt, run into one another; just after coming together they fall apart, speed up, slow down, hammered with the artist's omnipresent influence. «Animated Cubism»
is the term she gave to her work method: The flat film images are committed to a virtual digital space, a different kind of illusion, and the material is released into a state of partial abstraction.
In the referential space, filled with romantic ruins of images, fragments of emotional declamation and salon conversation in French, with canned music and the bright singing of anonymous film divas,
emotions are transformed into signals, and the individual parts of trivial film tragedies are translated back into neutral cinematic symbols. (Stefan Grissemann)
Screenings (selection): VIENNALE 2006, Diagonale Graz 2006, Crossing Europe Linz 2006
Der Kopf des Vitus Bering
2004 / Single channel video / 4:3 / b/w / sound / 5 min
When Vitus Bering completed his circumnavigation of northeast Asia on 13 August 1728 to prove
that Asia and America are two separate continents, the coast of America was covered in fog and remained largely
invisible to the discoverer.
On the tracks of discovery and at the same time groping through the dark; a confusing state, the various levels of which are made evident in Michaela Schwentner's video the head
of Vitus Bering. The picture shows the black silhouette of a landscape emerging from a brilliant white. The landscape is grouped on a horizontal and in some places also on a vertical axis. It changes,
seems to oscillate between various aggregate states. Forms become visible or invisible; colors fluctuate between white-gray-black. A type of fata morgana in a desert of ice.
Also the sound and the text make reference to a state of madness - or at least heightened sensibility; the violin bows are tense, the voices entangle and distort.
Konrad Bayer's text «Der Kopf des Vitus Bering»
(1958 ff), which provides all of the quotations, is Schwentner's immediate reference point. Bayer is interested in the figure of Bering as a location from which relations can be created and quotes André Breton, according to whom reality
is not the sum of the facts, but rather, the sum of possibilities. Bayer's text is a mosaic of facts, thus on the one hand history - and on the other, thoughts and speculations, mounted according to strict rules.
He creates a dense atmosphere whose quality lies
in the gaps that hold the knowledge of wealth, of reality. Also Schwentner's video breathes this intensity; text, sound, and image combine to something greater
than the sum of what happens and what is heard. It presents the abundance in its emptiness. (Sylvia Szely)
2003 / Single channel video / 4:3 / b/w / sound / 3 min
Sound: Michaela Schwentner
On a white background, black rectangles fall from the left upper edge of the picture. They amass to form larger surfaces,
to then immediately thereafter shrink or shift on top of one another, and from time to time be lifted off each other by thin white lines.
Similar to the cinema screen, the rectangular surfaces carry the schematic, digitally processed image of a woman, which is difficult to recognize as such.
Instead, its large-pixel outline merges with the abstract forms, which constantly form anew. Like in a puzzle, individual facial details show up in different places;
the various parts are continually put together, yet without ever revealing a completed picture.
The stark, reduced soundtrack, which stems from Antonioni's
Il deserto rosso, as does the initial visual material, emphasises the clarity of the images and opens the gaze to the constantly changing forms.
The face – reduced to flickering black and white areas – takes its place in this strict composition. At one point, the picture becomes almost completely black
from the steady overlapping of different layers. Shortly thereafter, the schematic contours of the face push into the field of vision.
In the end it seems to have almost won out over the abstract forms. This impression is supported by the replacement of the noise on the soundtrack with human voices.
However, before the music (which begins suddenly), can spread out, and the black and white contours become completely recognizable as the reproduction of a
human form, they turn quickly to the side and the picture disappears into the blackness. (Corinna Reicher)
Screenings (selection): Avanto Festival Helsinki 2003, Diagonale Graz 2004, Crossing Europe Linz 2004
GIULIANA 64:03 on vimeo.
VISUALISATIONS OF SOUND COMPOSITIONS
w/ Paul Clouvel (Elektra Music)
2013 / Single channel video / 4:3 / b+w / sound / 8 min
2010 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 10 min
2010 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 12 min
2009 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 8 min
2004 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 6 min
2003 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 6 min
2000 / Single channel video / 4:3 / b/w / sound / 5 min
2000 / Single channel video / 4:3 / b/w / sound / 5 min
TRANSISTOR (excerpt) on vimeo.
The Future Of Human Containment
2001 / Single channel video 4:3 + 35mm / b+w / sound / 4 min
Screening at Sundance Independent Film Festival 2003 / Section New Frontiers
2004 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 6 min
Sound: Charmant Rouge
How Do You Want M.?
Part 3 of MAZY
2003 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 4 min
Sound: Heinz Dietsch
Take The Bus
2002 / Single channel video / 4:3 / b/w / sound / 4 min
Sound: General Magic
2001 / Single channel video / 4:3 / colour / sound / 6 min
How Do You Want M.? on vimeo
Take The Bus on vimeo
© michaela schwentner 2017