A CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE DEVOTED TO THE MOVING IMAGE
Sept 9 2012 - Jan 16, 2013
\Works in the Exhibition
Four channel HD video, four flatscreens, four media players. Filmed in Super 16, transferred to digital. 12 min llop
Void, Lichtung (2009)
Archival print. Ed 5+2
American Night 2011
Written, directed and produced by Julian Rosefeld. 5-channel film installation, color, sound, shot on 16mm anamorphic, converted to HD-SR and Transferred to BlueRay disc, aspect ratio: 2,35:1 cinemascope, Loop 40 min 42 sec.
Staring: Priscilla Bergey, Maurice Brink, Jeff Burrell, Laura Cameron, Jeff Caster, Lisa Densem, Erik Hansen, Errol T. Harewood, Melissa Holroyd, Robert Kovacs, Grayson Millwood, Janaina Pessoa, Tammi Torpedo, Suse Wächter, Gavin Webber, Tim Williams, Jeff Wood… Director of Photography: Christoph Krauss; Costume Designer: Bina Daigeler; Art Director: Ina Timmerberg; Madalina Pasol de Martin: Choir: Sonari Chor Berlin; Choir director Berlin: Volker Groeling; Choir director: Almería Justo Maria Andujar Peral; Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Requiem, Lacrimosa (performed by the Sonari Choir Berlin and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir); Lee Morse, Let's get friendly; The Andrew Sisters, I didn't know the gun was loaded
The words spoken during the campfire conversation and in the saloon scene are quoted either from Western film classics or from speeches of more contemporary cowboys such as George W. Bush, Charlton Heston, John McCain, 50 Cent, Gary Cooper, John Wayne and others
Shot in 2009 in Fort Bravo Texas, Hollywood, Almería, Spain and on the Canary Islands
About the artist
Julian Rosefeldt Julian Rosefeldt (born 1965) studied Architecture in Munich und Barcelona. Since 1999 he lives and works in Berlin. In 2009, Rosefeldt was invited as a guest professor by the Media Art and Media Design faculty at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. In 2010 Rosefeldt became a member of the Bayerischen Akademie der Schönen Künste in the division of Film and Media Art. Since 2011 he is Professor for Digital and Time-based Media at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. Solo exhibitions at (a.o.): Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2012), ACMI Australian Centre for the Moving Image (2011), DA2 Domus Artium Salamanca (2010), British Film Institute London (2010), Berlinische Galerie Berlin (2010), Kunstmuseum Bonn (2009), EX3 Florence (2009), Galería Helga de Alvear Madrid (2008), Platform China Beijing (2007), Galería Vermelho São Paulo (2007), ZKMax Munich (2005), Spike Island Bristol (2004), BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art Gateshead (2004), KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin (2004), Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf (2003), Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart Berlin (2002), Herzliya Museum of Art (2001), Goethe-Institute Paris (2000), Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (1999), ZKM Karlsruhe (1999) and Kunstsammlung NRW Düsseldorf (1998).
His work is included in dozens of prestigious public and private collections, including MoMA; MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León); Kunstmuseum Bonn; Burger Collection Switzerland / Hong Kong; CAC Málaga (Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga); CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami); Ellipse Foundation (Contemporary Art Collection, Cascais); Goetz Collection, Munich; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf; The Saatchi Collection, London
About the exhibition
The 5-channel American Night by Julian Rosefeldt is one of the most ambitious works to date by an artist who is known worldwide for exceptoionally elaborate multi-channel projections. It uses the American Western as its starting point, both as an art-historical medium and as an ideological tool for the formation of American values. Using five screens, each using cinemascope’s 2:35 anamorphic aspect ratio, Rosefeldt takes the viewer through a series of cinematic moments using the filmic language of the genre, while laying bare the mechanics of the medium itself and its own making.
Julian Rosefeldt is Professor for Digital and Time-based Media at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, and has had solo exhibitions at major institutions around the world. He’s best known for elaborate film installations, such Trilogie des Scheiterns (Trilogy of Failure, 2004-2005), and ambitious film productions that mimic feature-length films, such as Lonely Planet (2006). In those works Rosefeldt has been interested in exposing the mechanics of his chosen medium while underscoring the nature of chance, slapstick, and in the case of Lonely Planet, genre conventions. But with American Night he delves deeper into more political territories.
The title American Night itself is a multiple reference: It alludes to the title of Francois Truffaut’s La nuit américaine (1974), which itself was a reference to the Hollywood technique of using special filters to allow “night scenes” to be shot during the day (aka “Day for Night”). Rosefeldt uses the same technique and it too, like Truffaut’s film, is as much about the process of making a film as it is about the ideological and inculcating function of narratives.
As in a lot of Rosefeldt’s work, the film is highly ambitious, with the same production requirements as a full Hollywood production—including stage sets, helicopters, crane shots, multiple locations (Spain, the US, and the Canary Islands), a full cast and crew. Typical shots include a deserted main street where the only movement is the fluttering of a curtain or tumbleweed. But as Kristin Rieber writes, “After a while the apparent familiarity of these images begins to unravel: The cowboy’s ride ends in front of an endless ocean – a scene that breaks with the conventions of the Western and evokes the paintings of the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. The contemplative, melancholy cowboy staring at the sea is hard to reconcile with the familiar image of the rugged Western hero forever pressing forward into unknown territory. Events in the deserted Western movie set take an unexpected turn as well: In a comically absurd scene and winking reference to certain US foreign policy decisions, a helicopter lands and armed US troops rush out to occupy the town, as if it were Fallujah or Baghdad.”
Indeed, by using such stylistic devices that are the very language of the Western genre, he deconstructs the myth of the founding of America and relates it to the hegemonic ambitions of recent US foreign policy. In a sequence projected onto the fourth screen for example, George W. Bush and Barack Obama appear as the protagonists in a puppet show performed in a saloon. The farce culminates with Obama fatally shooting Bush (after Bush challenges him to “shoot a turkey”). Thus a new, supposedly more civil order comes about through armed force. On another screen, five cowboys are gathered around a campfire, musing on the American conception of freedom, the right to bear arms and – stepping outside their roles for a moment of self-reflexivity – on the Western as a genre. Every sentence uttered during their conversation is a quotation; some are taken from films, others from song lyrics, still others from the mouths of prominent US politicians. Yet in each case the content is either about, or uttered by, such modern cowboys as 50 Cent, Sam Peckinpah, John McCain and Charlton Heston.
Taken as a whole, the piece explores the psyche of American pride, with its emphasis on justice and “doing good.” But it’s also a revealing glimpse into how the rest of the world views the US, and how “doing good” can be misconstrued.