Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trans Video Express-curated by John von Bergen

Sara Meltzer Gallery presents:
Trans Video Express: Recent Video Art from Germany
curated by John von Bergen
Thursday, October 18th from 6:30 - 7:30pm
Thursday, October 25th from 6:30 - 7:30pm
Screenings begin promptly at 6:30pm.

Since its inception decades ago, video art has gradually become a medium that can no longer be labeled unconventional or Avant-Garde. And although the German painting phenomenon has recently been a strong export on the international art scene, conversations continue about other forms of German art, including historical perspectives in video.

Having lived in Berlin the last few years I began to notice the possible ways in which cultural languages begin to change when crossing The Atlantic. The idea of sharing some of the current video works that I have recently seen in Germany to an American audience is just one way to open a dialogue about what is happening in this part of Europe at this time. But it would not be fair to suggest that these evenings could offer a comprehensive overview of the video art coming out of Germany (and this is by no means another Biennale). However what is being presented is a small spectrum of projects involving narration, abstraction, found footage, documentation, loud theatrics, poetic discussions, and the breaking of some rules (and maybe even some laws). One could say these positions may not yet be positions. But the videos being presented still become vehicles for making a comment, taking a risk, hitting a nerve, or simply trying to offer a small glimpse at something beautiful.

The artists are currently working in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, Leipzig, Stuttgart, and Karlsruhe, and many will be presenting their works for the first time in The United States.

Marc Aschenbrenner
Kopffüssler (Head Walker)
Running time: 02:17 min.

Screening #1/October 18th:

In Zweite Sonne (Second Sun), Marc Aschenbrenner struggles across an Austrian landscape, while the helium balloon attached to his costume grows to epic proportion. Kopffüssler (Head Walker), is a brief but climactic situation when the artist wears an over-sized green head, as he jumps, struggles, and reacts violently to a white-cubed room.

Roland Schappert (in cooperation with the poet Michael Ebmeyer) delivers us Bar/Vegetation, a short film where a poet’s voice blends over ridiculous chance gestures and facial abstractions of a family being interviewed.

In City of Cool, The Dresden-based artist collective Reinigungsgesellschaft (whose German implications range from "Cleaning Service" to “Purification Society”) work their way through Leipzig’s working class district of Plagwitz, changing street signs into poetic diversions. Locals and passersby are quizzed of the pros and cons of their project, which inevitably opens up a larger discussion about the current problems in Germany.

Alicja Kwade's video No Light Left takes a low-tech approach towards a sci-fi production. She creates a universe of tumultuous light-sources as the screen shifts between the familiar and the uncanny.

Christof Zwiener’s Brückenbau (Building Bridges) shows the artist’s personal adventure of trespassing through a remote building site with his camera, fabricating perhaps one of the world’s smallest and never-to-be-noticed “public artworks”.

Knut Klassen (a former collaborator with John Bock and the artist group Gelatin) creates video works that cannot be so easily categorized as art films, nor as documentaries. In Lis, he has developed a language of conditions that depend on unscripted actors engaging in both private and social rituals. Incomprehensible performances are intertwined with the monologue of a young actress, while revealing glimpses into Berlin’s off-space theatre scene.

Stefan Panhans
Sieben bis zehn Millionen (Seven to Ten Million)
Running time: 05:42 min

Screening #2/October 25th:

Pablo Wendel re-creates himself as one of the oldest sculptures known to man in his video Terra Cotta Warrior, proving what can happen to an imposter as he attempts to blend in with the other 7,000 warrior statues displayed in North Western China. Eventually Wendel is discovered by confused security guards, yet maintains his inanimate posture as he is dragged off the scene.

In Stefan Panhan’s film Sieben bis zehn Millionen (Seven to Ten Million), an androgynous youth speaks to us in front of a slowly paced snowfall, as we experience a rapid-fire monologue (with rapid-fire subtitles) about consumer obsessions.

Susan Schmidt and David Buob present Dad's Cellar, where a strange and dreamy dialogue is heard from the artists as double-channeled holiday scenes suggest a serene but chilling nostalgia… a glance at the relationship between individual and space.

Wolfgang Oelze’s work Old Painful collects a range of Hollywood moments that deal with cinematic themes pertaining to suicide. Juxtaposed scenes lead us through a labyrinth of contemplations, and create a network of circumstances that suggest desperate motives from unconventional points of view.

Julia Oschatz creates a romantic, humorous, and tragic environment with her film Cut and Run. Partially referencing Caspar David Friedrich’s Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, we witness a play between sense and nonsense, as her ambiguously headed character stages paralyzing actions in a post-production reality.

In a more documentary fashion, Peter Jap Lim's work Gehen Üben (Practicing Walking) involves a private session in which Jap Lim had hired an actor to teach a group of Germans literally how to walk. The exercises border self-conscious acts of absurdity, as adults re-learn the basics of moving around each other.

Johannes Wald’s untitled film is a short but definitive finale, as the artist strolls through a park at dusk, lighting up a street lamp from what appears to be an inventive act of vandalism.

John von Bergen was born in Connecticut in 1971, and received his B.F.A. Degree with Honors at The School of Visual Arts in New York. In 2003 von Bergen moved to Berlin with an invitation from the Berlin Senate for Culture. Since living in Germany, von Bergen's work has been exhibited in various galleries and venues including Halle 14 in Leipzig, Wilhelm Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen, Kunstraum Innsbruck in Austria, and The Brno House of Art in Czech Republic. This last spring he was invited for a residency at "7. Stock" in Dresden. In September von Bergen opened a solo exhibition titled "THE ITCH" at Galerie Lena Bruening in Berlin, and was also recently profiled in the book "Berlin Art (No. 1)" by Stefan Maria Rother. Upcoming projects include a presentation at "Elektrohaus" in Hamburg, and a collaborative work with the writer Jonathan Lethem.

The screenings will also be on view during regular gallery hours
Tuesday through Saturday, 11am - 6pm
October 23rd through November 3rd.
Programs will alternate hourly.
The gallery will be closing at 3pm on Saturday, November 3rd.

for more information please contact:

Sara Meltzer Gallery
525-531 West 26th Street, 4th Floor
New York NY 10001
212 727 9330


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