Common Sense

What enables the laymen not only to perceive art as art but to exchange their observations. Arthur C. Danto writes in his book 'The Transfiguration of the Commonplace' that it is almost impossible to decide if a certain subject belongs to the "body" of art or not. A sentence like "X is a work of art" does not serve to
state something about the subject rather than to express something about our
feelings concerning this particular subject.

What is being thought about art in a certain period of time, society or sub-culture, what is associated with art and what is seen as artistic accomplishment characterises that respective art audience, those recipients. At the intersection of high and popular art there is always a sociocritical edge, a critical view on the art distanced from society an on art "for art's sake". We are being reminded time and again that the terms and definitions we use when thinking or talking about art and culture in everyday conversations stem more frequently from popular culture than from high culture.

"Air" mocks the mannerism and nonsense of the lofty language which is spoken by "the inhabitants of the art world". In the form of a fictive documentary the autors report on the emergence of an art work. They use the known formats of the television report, the official visual language of the mass media and so balance on the verge of credibility and falsity.

"The man who was everywhere II." can be understood as an example of immediate contact between the performer and the viewer. The performer talk
about the process of an action which took place in a public space and about the
reactions of the passers-by who, without noticing, have become viewers. During
the performance the performers are constantly confronted with the reactions of
the onlookers. The performers see and interpret these reactions and thus
become the viewers of the viewers.

In "Kunst und Gesellschaft I-III" (A Dialogue between Art and Society I-III)
Sebastian Blank employs the Machinima-Technique, which means that his film
was created with the use of a computer game engine. In the name of art he
induces disorder in the paralell world of entertainment.

Dávid Adamkó and Adrian Alecu both work with readily available material from
the mass culture. In "FTTSZT (s.r.a.w. rats)" Adamkó re-edits a popular
Hungarian cartoon from the '80-ies. The unpleasant sneezing of the main
character in the cartoon is suddenly discovered as artistic talent which does not
only gains him respect but it also raises expectations in the community.

The original footages that in Alecus "Bukarest 1992" are amateur- and home
video tapes from Romania. This new and cheap technology was mainly employed to document personal lives, but also served for creative purposes. The technolgical advances made it possible to step out of the passive role of
consumer and to become movie makers – inspired by contemporary action fims.

Last, but not least, Yuri A shows five attempts to define the term "art", which attempts range from silence, to the associations of a body builder to phrases that recall the language of the dictionary to art philosophy quotations. Out of the different approaches, embodied by the cartoon figures, arises an absurd, chaotic overall picture of confusion and incompatible concepts. All attempts to find a clear and universal definition are doomed to fail.

Text by Virág Bottlik


Path to follow

Let us imagine two blind men. They are touching different parts of an elephant:
the tusk, the tail, etc. They could describe these parts to each other still they wouldn't find out what an elephant is. This parable at the end of the film "Traces of an Elephant" by Vanessa Nica Mueller is about perception and awareness, and it concludes the following: "Our knowledge is limited by our failing understanding of the whole". Even when we can immediately recognize a physically perceived elephant, we encounter boundaries when we attempt to create an all inclusive definition for "elephant". The "elephant" is connected with different places in different cultures, e.g. the Sahara or with the Zoo. There are different kinds of elephants, in Hinduism it has its own symbolism, but it has become a Disney figure and it is even associated with a German Second World War tank. So even in the case of the elephant, which seems so simple at first glance, it is impossible to bring all the connotations of the term together.

In the artistic representation of the elephant it is just as impossible to capture all references at once. In the Hindu religious context the association to a tank or to "Dumbo" is mostly irrelevant. When creating a narrative one has to ignore most of the possible meanings so that the significance that is meant, can come to the foreground. Subject and object have to be compatible in the plot. In order to follow one way of thinking it has to be free of superfluous sidetracks. A silent agreement regarding the context is established between the "storyteller" and the audience that enables the transmission.

"The path we follow" is the title of the program which shows movies that unfold in the framework of the interpretation – so exploring its set patterns and the flexibility of the framework.

In "Traces of an Elephant" the difficult social-political situation of Northern Ireland provides the frame. Vanessa Nica Mueller uses footage from Alan Clarke's much discussed short film "Elephant" (1989), and combines this with audio recordings of inhabitants of Belfast talking about scenes of the movie, about changes in the city and about their personal experiences which relate to the film. The camera follows perpetrator and victim to the scene of the crime with merciless objectivity but just before the murder takes place the scene ends and we jump to the next killing. There is nowhere to escape to and there is no explanation either. As one of the interviewed put it: one gets the feeling as if the structure of the city were to blame, because no other motive can be discerned.

The Serbian Doplgenger (Isidora Ilic & Bosko Prostran) examine gender specific roles. According to the theory of Laura Mulvey, the esteemed feministic film theorist, in the cinema the man (the carrier of the gaze) is always in the subject
position and the woman (the bearer of the gaze) is in the position of the object.
This perspective sets the limits of possible roles and narratives which we accept without even being conscious of them.

In "Gelbs Film" a hairdresser is telling his clients a love story which is to be the scenario for a feature movie. The plot of is inspired by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood and the situation of the area in which the storyteller an his listeners live. The plot changes during the narration as the clients comment on it. The story that emerges through these discussions could be regarded as the
fictional representation of the little world of the hairdressing salon.

Text by Virág Bottlik



This programme could also be emphasized with an exclamation mark. First of all, it calls for self consciousness, to occupy oneself with oneself. But the search for the (artistic) me is mostly a contemplative journey, no matter how humorous or experimental it might be. Questioning himself is the v-belt, which goads the viewer not only to be a voyeur. This programme examines the big question of the identity of the artist in a road-movie, in a dialogue as well as in a soliloquy in front of the camera.

"Me?" starts with a video, which also contains a question mark in its title: "What Do You Think Of Me?" It begins like a self portrait of the Brazilian artist in front of the camera, but it emerges, that she is recorded by different Finnish persons, who describe her and speak to her from the off. It’s a journey without moving, which shows different views, independent from cultural and geographic boundaries.

"Dresden Hand" is a road movie of quite a different nature: It’s a collage of texts and partly surrealistic footage, reflecting the stay of the Bulgarian artist in Dresden. He discovers the details of the city in close-ups, nearly like a blind person with his hand, commenting it ironically.
There is also an ironic seriousness about "Maria", a painted portrait, which is not satisfied with itself and its painter. Within a short time, she awakes a whole imaginary oil painting world to life, through referring to better portraits of her friends. The simple animation celebrates the power of moving images exactly through the economy of the movements.

"Film about Unknown Artist" is about the question of being an artist and already the title shows an essential paradox. Where does the self consciousness of an artist come from? Where does inspiration, the magic of art, come from? The artist discovers personal, religious and national symbols in a road movie through her home country Latvia and captures them with a super 8 camera.
The last contribution of this programme, "Lecture (Contemporary Art for Parents)", traces the topic of art and personality in a direct dialogue. The artist talks to her parents about the international art scene and the reasons, why one should occupy oneself with art. The entertaining lecture is not only for her relatives, but for everybody, who is interested in art.

Text by Eike Berg



Delusion is one of the most exciting possibilities of electronic media. At the same time it is a basic human need. The fascination for the deceptive moving pictures is the result of this combination. There are many sources of electronic delusion like shadow plays, fictive travelogues and camouflage in the jungle and the religions. In general, one can differentiate between optical and imaginary delusions. The emphasis in this programme is on the visual delusion, but it also offers playful ways to cross the line. The camera often represents a subjective position in the process.

One of the most direct possibilities to delude visually is to use the camera image as fixed perspective. With that you see only on a two-dimensional level, what’s happening and you can be deluded easily like in theatre. For instance like in the video "Line", in which a black-dressed person is painting a vertical black line on a frame-filling white wall. Finally the person totally disappears in front of the black background, respectively in a black hole in another film.
The use of the physiology of the human eye leads to a slightly more complex delusion. Firstly the eye perceives movement as strongest impulse, then contrast, colours and more concrete forms at the end. The video "Spin" distracts the viewer, through the permanently rotating revolving door, from the changing surroundings. It is comparable to "Revision", in which a segmented window in the front constitutes a frame, behind which more and more improbable ambiences appear.

In "Dew Point" it’s hard to decide, if image processing was used or if there is really a person in the fog, who appears and disappears at the limit of visibility. In other videos, the delusion happens already at the recorded object. "Post Global Warming Survival Kit" shows pictures, which cannot be seen in reality. An infrared camera shows an installation, which is only lit by infrared lights and therefore not visible for the naked eye. The processing of the video can also be very subtle on the image plane, like in "This art piece was seeking a reflection", in which the image of the spectator is reflected and distorted again and again on the surfaces of pictures.

Another way to alienate the video image is the defragmentation, the segmentation into single pieces like in "Loop". The video shows different time levels of a tram journey in convoluted oblongs, which can be seen at the same time, and provoke a strange movement in time and space. "Are You Looking At Me?" works without any technical manipulation. The seemingly simple recording of a street situation hides the fact, that the presence of the camera is also a manipulative interference, which influences the behaviour of the participants.
Therefore the camera is not merely a technical tool but also a magic box and a medium, which can change the world.

Text by Eike Berg


Uneasiness (Spectacle)

In the drawing series "How to Look at Modern Art in America" in the P.M. magazine (New York, 1946) Ad Reinhardt showed the uneasiness of the position of the spectator when the artwork "speaks" directly to him/her and questions his/her position and perception. One of the drawings shows a laughing visitor in front of an abstract painting, pointing his finger to the painting and asking "What does this represent?". The painting answers furiously pointing the finger (back) to the spectator: "What do you represent?" The unexpected counter-question coming from the painting itself faces the spectator with the fact that his own experience and private "ideologies" shape what he/she sees and influence his/her perception.

In all the videos of the programme "Uneasiness (Spectacle)", the spectator is faced with his/her own expectations and perception in the threefold relationship between the art work (the spectacle or what is observed), the observer or the protagonist (within the video) and ourselves as external observers/audience. The uneasiness of the questions is revealed: What do we see? What does this "represent"? And further: What can art? What do we expect from it?

This programme encompasses six videos. Inez de Coo tackles in "Prologue (2010) the machinery behind the narrative production and we are faced with our own expectations towards yet-to-be-seen narratives. Malthe Stigaard’s "Talk Show" (2010) turns the visitor of an art event into the actor in a self-reflective video. In "Cold Milk" (Hannah Haaslahti, 2010) we are sharing the trauma of the spectator’s position. In "Fiction is over" (Marta Azparren, 2010) the artist/actor confronts us directly with the questions derived from all the stereotype statements made about artworks. In Vladimir Nikolic’s "Installation" (2009) the discussion takes place in the space between the artist as a performer, the artist as a viewer/commentator and us as audience.

Text by Radmila Joksimovic


Uneasiness (Institution)

The programme encompasses five videos, in which the roles of the viewer, the participant, the artist (director) and performer are interlaced. The only video that stands out from the described role allocation, stands at the very beginning of the block as an introduction into the block’s content. The video "Untitled" (Hacer Kiroglu, 2007)  shows the artist who starts to brush her teeth and continues in a very painful process in which she brushes her cheeks and her whole face. The complete scene seems as a speech act without speech itself, as a painful and hard-to-watch speech, which has been taken away. And in this manner the question of the possibility of speech is opened, especially in relation to art-as-institution and art-institution.

The video "Duality" (Jiri Janda, 1999) pursues a painful-to-watch atmosphere. We see the documentation of an artistic act in the 1990s, in which the artist cuts a female sculpture into two pieces with a rasp. The audience in the video, as well as ourselves as audience, is confused, if this act represents an act of destruction of an artwork or if it is an artwork itself. Furthermore it questions the expected behaviour within and in relation to art-as-institution and the possibilities of making statements within it.
The video "Cultural Guide" (Deborah Ghisu, 2009) further explores the conventions of art-as-institution and art-institution(s), while it brings discomfort to our own position as viewers at the same time.

In "Escalating Perception/The Gaze" (Christian Niccoli, 2004) we are pulled out of our comfortable positions in the cinema seats to an escalator, parallel to another one, on which performers are walking in the video. The seemingly disinterested passers-by all at once start to confront us with statements which resemble information from lonely hearts ads. They make us think about the position of an individual in the institutionalized and stereotyped roles in a relationship, marriage, etc.
In Zoran Todorovic’s "Noise" passers-by on the street, residents of a mental institution and prison inmates are given the opportunity to speak. They speak to the artist himself and to the audience (us), instead of vice versa. Their stories reveal the deep human and political drama of Serbia in the 1990s.

Text by Radmila Joksimovic