Berlin Art Link presents the Forum Series, focusing on the International Forum of New Cinema section of the Berlinale Film Festival. The section straddles the line between art and cinema, showcasing avant garde, experimental works, essays, long-term observations, political reportage and yet-to-be-discovered cinematic landscapes.
For this year’s Forum Expanded portion of the 65th Berlinale Film Festival, the Akademie der Künste on Hanseatenweg opened its doors or, rather, closed them to the film installations of 16 contemporary artists with its group exhibition, “To the Sound of the Closing Door.” The theme of the exhibition takes the idea of one door closing and another opening to a new level with its exploration of the historical spectrum of art. New movements and artistic approaches are more than stylistic similarities or trends throughout time; they are deliberate breaks from the past in pursuit of a new ideal for the future. The opening of a new door implies a closing of the one before it and this year’s exhibition seeks to narrow in on the reverberations of that closing door.
The exhibition’s selection ranges from Arthur Tuoto’s ‘Je Proclame la Destruction,’ in which one of the film’s characters proclaims destruction on a repetitive loop, to Roy Dib’s ‘A Spectacle of Privacy,’ during which the viewer listens in on a bedroom conversation between “Israel” and “Palestine” as they discuss the commitment issues in their relationship. Each film could easily stand on its own, addressing the exhibition’s theme from a different angle, but Austrian artist Martin Ebner has managed to challenge the audience’s perception in a distinct way with his 33-minute, 2-channel video installation, ‘Ein helles Kino.’
Ebner’s film, which consists of a continuous loop of video snapshots, documents everyday occurrences and interactions between people, objects, and environments, with a particular focus on the way these relationships are affected by motion, transition, and time. The film contrasts elements of stillness and movement, with the screen itself superimposed upon a larger, moving screen behind it.
The result is almost hypnotic, as the screens flitter through clips of a plane flying through the sky, cakes rotating in a shop window, skis running along the snow, or a suitcase dragging dead leaves along a sidewalk. Otherwise normal or mundane instances start to take on a surreal nature; a train’s food cart begins to look like a static room traveling through space, while the bubbles formed by a street performer begin to blend in and harmonize with the passersby. Objects acquire human characteristics and pathways, while the Earth becomes a stagnant surface upon which these dynamics take place. Actions are no longer defined merely by the subjects that perform them, but by the mutual relationship between subject and object; we act just as much as we are acted upon.
Not only do we witness visual interactions throughout the film, but auditory ones as well, with the noise emitted by one event becoming the soundtrack of another. Ambulance sirens narrate the calculated motions of a man juggling light-up balls, while the sound of a reel speeding up and slowing down accompanies the oscillations of a Chinese dragon dance, a flowing stream, a crackling fire, and the rhythmic rotations of a fan. Decontextualized, these objects (and their actions) are conflated with one another, as the viewer is reminded of the sound of a ticking clock as time passes by.
Ebner’s sequences provide a new lens through which to view nature and our relationship to it. He attracts the audience to the minute details of everyday life, compelling us to react to the poetic and mathematical aesthetics of routine. Ein helles Kino is more than a study of the cinematic process; it is an ode to the simultaneity of life’s happenings, with the closing of a door activating the opening of not one, but infinite other possibilities.