Light Movement 26: Dore O.

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Dore O.’s films seem to claim a certain uniqueness and independence from the dominant, yet diverse and irreducible currents of German experimental cinema. As the critic Dietrich Kuhlbrodt declared already in 1988: »Dore O. has become classic, and suddenly it turns out that her work has passed the various currents of time unharmed: the time of the cooperative union, the women's film, the structuralists and grammarians, the teachers of new ways of seeing ... It's time to proclaim loudly that Dore O.’s work is unique in German avant-garde film, since 'Jüm-Jüm' [...] she retains her independence also within independent film.«

The timeless originality and power of her work is all the more perceivable today, when many dogmas such as those of the political or structural film and their contemporary accusations of trivial aestheticism, have lost their hegemony. Dore O.'s concern lies in the creation of an associative, expressive and almost pre-conscious flow of images and the deliberation of their sensuality, which cannot be easily interpreted or be approached verbally and intellectually. In her painterly films one can observe the constantly renewed examination of the geometric conditions of the projection surface through a filmic reality which is experienced and captured foremost as image(s) unfolding itself in multilayered tableaus, through the counterplay of depth and surface, of planes and phantom like figures, canvas-like backgrounds, multiple frames, picture in picture. Going beyond the purely personal her work nonetheless thwarts the logics of her political and structuralist contemporaries in its intimate and personal poetics. »Dore O takes the original material for her films from her private domain, which includes far journeys through strange landscapes [...] Her films are not built on mathematical principles of structure; she creates a flow of image – multi-exposed landscapes and 1strange cut-in-image metaphors – as a poetic expression of her feelings. She works in the tradition of Brakhage in that she presents reality through the interpretation of her own emotions.« (Birgit Hein)

The program seeks to highlight these qualities, presenting her first film in collaboration with Werner Nekes, which already demonstrates both the artistic and artisanal dimension of her filmmaking and the insignificance of literal and symbolical meaning in favor of filmic qualities and perception, alongside her first solo-work ALASKA, a highly hypnotic and poetic work whose beauty, like all Dore O.’s films to come, »is located in the antechamber of language, even of consciousness.« (Dietrich Kuhlbrodt). The supple flow of images which seem chosen for either their depth or their surfaces, is further elaborated through a complex and sensual multilayering in her awarded and internationally acknowledged film KASKARA. Despite making a number of more narrative (feature length) films in the 80's and 90's, she kept returning to her interest in experimentation and in the counterplay of image and sound demonstrated by her later work THERMOMENT. (MM)

- Alaska  1968, 16mm,18min,  colour, sound
 (Sound by Dore O.: Violin, hair-dryer, several sounds from the Concord Sonata by Charles Ives)
»Alaska by Dore O. is a beautiful movie. This makes us suspicious. But beauty has a catch. It is only surface; hiding behind it are horror and fear. For Dore O., beauty is a part of reality. For her there exists a beauty in fear in the same way that for Genet there exists a beauty in murder. Alaska is a filmed dream, but devoid of the simplistic metaphors taken from psychoanalysis, metaphors which rationalize dreams and thus mistakenly facilitate their interpretation. Alaska is a film which cannot be interpreted, it can only be experienced.« (Klaus Badekeri, 1969, Filmkritik 5)

- Jüm Jüm (with Werner Nekes) 1967, 16mm, 10min, colour, sound
 Stationary shots of a woman (Dore O.) swinging in a swing in front of a brightly colored painting of a stylized phallus edited in a succession of jump-cuts strictly synched to the rhythm of the sound and forming the minimal fimic unit of four frames. Moving either parallel or perpendicular to the painting, the swinging movement is abbreviated, repeated, lengthened. Midway through the film the rhythm of the cutting just about quadruples and it becomes an illustration of Nekes’ theory of the ‘kine’, the minimal filmic unit of four frames.
»He [Werner Nekes] once told me that he wanted to make films in which the audience would have no points of reference for what they saw. He wanted to put them into the position of being like children again, so that they could see in a fresh and uninhibited way without the intellectual pattern, the filters and the pseudoisms. So in his film JUM-JUM (1967), made with Dore O., he uses the fixed camera and a simple movement--a girl on a swing, seen in profile. The movement develops by fragmentation. [...] In jüm-jüm the girl on the swing flies up, hesitates, goes up and up and back and embarks ' on further rhythms. Our normal visual association to the swing and the simple arc is broken. The girl on the swing turns into a staccato movement, a light/colour symbol of movement. We become detached from the girl and can see only visual rhythms.« (Stephen Dwoskin, Film Is, 1975. In: filmmakers cooperative catalogue No. 7)

- Kaskara  1974, 16mm (shown digital), 21min, colour sound
(Sound: Anthony Moore; with: Werner Nekes)
»A BALANCE OF ENCLOSED BEINGS IN DIVIDED SPACES. The sliding of facades and rooms, like scenery, through various axes, in various levels of multiple exposure together with entrances and exits of a person. Landscape exists only as a view through windows and doors. Individual shots stand in opposition to each other, modify themselves, or dissolve altogether into other pictures. Side by side with erupting pictures, images that collide and pile up, there are fragments of spaces/rooms and time sequences, attraction, fusion and repulsion of the various halves of the film image, with the purpose of creating a sensual topology. These are the main formal elements of the chosen film language. One picture devours the next.« (Dore O.)

- Thermoment  1998, 16mm, 7min, colour, sound
For "Endo-Heat" and "Thermoment", Dore O. filmed the clarinetist Eckard Koltermann with a thermal imaging camera, translating the thermal regions of the inside of the body into visual music music. Visual-thermo composition in analogy to a musical composition.

This screening is the first part of a series on German Experimental Film originating from the 1960's to the early 80's, curated by Masha Matzke

Dore O.
Born in 1946, Mühlheim on the Ruhr, Germany. Was trained as a textile engineer in Krefeld. Ended her formal education in 1967. In addition to being a filmmaker, she is also a self-taught painter who has exhibited internationally, and has produced a variety of books, objects and photos. 1976 married Werner Nekes. First experiences with film as an actor, costume/set designer for Nekes’ films. Her first film JÜM-JÜM in collaboration with him. Between 1966 and 1986 she remained an actor, costume/set designer, camerawoman for many of his films. Along with Nekes she was one of the founding members of the Hamburg Film Co-op, an attempt at distribution of experimental film modelled on the American film co-ops, initiated through a series of independent screenings of “the other cinema” initially called “Filmschau der Festivalaußenseiter” (“Screening of festival-outsiders”) in 1968, later “Hamburger Filmschau”. Failing to conciliate their political and aesthetic stances, the Hamburg Co-op eventually split up in 1974. While the audience and Festivals, according to Ingo Petzke, clearly favoured political films, the experimental film almost became of no public interest. From those who have started in the 60s only a diminishing group of obstinate avant-gardists, among them Dore O., remained with experimental film after the mid 70s. As the first awarded female filmmaker Dore O. won the First prize at the 5th International Experimental-Film Competition in Knokke (Belgium) for her film KASKARA as well as the Critic’s Prize for the best film of the year in 1974-75. Her filmic work was part of documenta 5 in 1972 and documenta 6 in 1977.
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SPEKTRUM - Berlin, Germany


Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 20:00 to Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 19:55



Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 20:00 to Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 19:55


  • Bürknerstr 12
    12047   Berlin
    52° 29' 35.88" N, 13° 25' 22.44" E