The second screening in the serie Experimental Ethnography at Cinemateket presents Urban Gardening And Ecology - film screening and Q&A with the filmmakers Elke Marhöfer (Germany/Cuba) and Mikhail Lylov (Russia).
Filmmakers Raymonde Carasco (France, 1933-2009), Elke Marhöfer (Cuba/Germany, 1967-), Chick Strand (USA, 1931-2009) and Mark LaPore (USA, 1952-2005) work primarily - from different practices - with ethnographic and anthropological studies, field and archival work. These four programmes with ethnographic films offer a discovery and unveiling of places, people and meetings with social, political and cross-cultural differences in focus.
Camera positioning, image room design, the thermal profile (all of which are produced for and recorded by the camera), things outside the picture, sound, and political and cultural discrepancies are crucial problematics of these filmmakers' positions in the choice of representation. They deal with history and try to release from the binary opposition, I and you and us and them as something alien, an attitude also vital in the production of films.
In this series the viewer meets a barefooted Gradiva, Tarahumara indians in Mexico (Carasco), ecosystems and urban horticulture threatened by modern society's emergence (Marhöfer), a Sudanese-cleaning woman at a restaurant in Chinatown in New York, people in Sri Lanka (LaPore), five women's stories of Nazi persecution, sexual fantasies, incest and drug abuse and colonialism in Venezuela described by an older female Warao indian, a nun and the filmmaker himself (Strand).
Curator: Daniel A. Swarthnas (Turbidus Film)
Film Programme and Q&A
- Is There Something Else I've Lost? (Elke Marhöfer, 2011, Germany/Wuhan, China, 16mm, color/sound, 38'40)
Urban gardening became part of the new organic life style, it goes along with a contemporary commoditization of our desire for the natural and the sustainable. The film 'takes a breath of fresh air' in the traditionally self-organized gardens of Wuhan in China. Soon these carefully invested vegetable gardens will be demolished by the increased modernization and massive housing constructions. Nevertheless, at the moment, the film depicts fragments of fields and outlines traces of profound skills of how to construct support structures for plants to survive.
- No, I Am Not A Toad, I Am A Turtle! (Elke Marhöfer, 2012, Germany/South Korea/China, 16mm to HD, color, sound, 44'00)
"The film No, I am not a toad, I am a turtle! is neither ethnographic, nor a narrative documentary, nor an essay film. However, it certainly is a film about foreignness, about ontological difference, and narrative power operating in a different syntax. It’s a film shot in Korea, which occupies a specific place in the 'Far East', trapped, as it were, between the Empires of China and Japan. The film comprises a few main topics: A pansori performance - a genre of music and oral narration -, a tiger, an aswang (ghost) story, an ironmonger and the landscape. There is no syntax imposed on the foreignness, no ontological laughter on behalf of the filmmaker but in each of the scenes there is an immanence, especially insofar as they are not subjected to narrative translation or commentary, thereby retaining their sense of mystery. Here 'Korea' is not an outside, but rather a 'trope' - a place, which is simultaneously real and imaginary. It is turned into a cinematic trope, without an anchor or vanishing point. It is a trope born out of what figures most prominently in the scenes: tales of transformation and metamorphosis. However, this is not a metamorphosis in the context of the fantastical or monstrous, or a transformative becoming for its own sake. The point is that each becoming has its own outside - that is, an external logic, a force that doesn’t derive from what is seen, said or else identified, but from the door that is left open, through which different temporalities and beings can enter the stage of actualization. [...] Perhaps what we are accustomed to call 'ghosts' or 'spirits' is in fact a faculty of images; images that inhabit the world and to some of which we are hosts. They transform us as much as we transform them. I think Elke Marhöfer's film is giving a different answer to [Chris] Marker's question regarding the communion with 'things' by means of cinematic images. Images though are not necessarily identical with what can be seen. On the contrary, the image is a semi-autonomous mimetic capacity, a power to lure and transform, a penetrative node, a being. In this sense images can never be entirely positivized and objectified."
- Shape Shifting (Elke Marhöfer and Mikhail Lylov, 2015, Japan, 16mm to HD, color/sound, 18'26)
Granting culture to nonhumans the film “Shape Shifting” outlines an affective cartography of a landscape found in many parts of Asia, and in Japan is called satoyama – a passage between village and mountain. Created by exchanges and encounters between humans and nonhumans its biodiversity is based on the increase of symbiotic interactions and collaborations. The more collaborations between species and cycles of materials are created—the more stable ecosystem can be formed.
Q&A with Elke Marhöfer and Mikhail Lylov
Born in the year of the goat in Baracoa/Cuba, Elke Marhöfer is an artist living in Berlin. Via the potentialities of moving image and suppositious writing she works with notions of self-admitted foreignness and radical othering. She collaborates with dear friends and things, revising notions of animals, vegetables and objects. Within distant environments she investigates specific events and practices that traverse binary oppositions. Linking for example, the nonhuman with the postcolonial, she discusses how nature cuts across history, being simultaneously historical situated, evoking human and nonhuman testimonies of past and current events, recognizing their specificities, and at the same time surpassing and escaping historical formatting with its unique and machinic mode of constantly evolving, changing and creating something new. Elke tests nonhuman perspectives, translating a technology like the camera, from a human cultural and technical device into an extension of the intensive forces within the surrounding environment, so that the camera becomes a tool, which is in principle not different from nonhuman animal tools, similar to orangutans using leaves to make squeaky kiss noises.
Elke studied Fine Art at the University of the Arts in Berlin, at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York City. Since 2010 she pursues a PhD at the University of Gothenburg. Elke has received fellowships, grants, and generous support from IASPIS Residency Sweden, Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. Her art exhibitions include the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Manufactura’s Studio Wuhan, FCAC Shanghai, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, NGBK Berlin, Kunstverein Hannover, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen and The Showroom, London. She lectures in conferences such as DARE, Deleuze and Artistic Research Conference Ghent, Deleuze’s Cultural Encounters with the New Humanities, Hong Kong and Daughters of Chaos, Deleuze Studies International Conference Stockholm. Her films have been screened at the BFI - Film Festival London, Berlinale Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Courtisane Festival Ghent and Images Film Festival Toronto.
Mikhail Lylov was born in 1989 in Russia, Voronezh. Studied Economics in Voronezh state university. In 2008 in cooperation with other artists co-established Voronezh CCA.
In 2008 moved to Moscow, studied in ICA Moscow, where developed interdisciplinary approach to his films, installations and performances which deconstruct traditional figures of knowledge and subject. In 2010 moved to Goteborg, Sweden to finish MA in arts. In 2013-14 participated in the Le Pavillon programme at Palais De Tokyo. Lives and works in Berlin.