FRIEDL KUBELKA VOM GRÖLLER
The Short Films
With Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller
This is the second and the last of the screenings organized in the framework of the exhibition Songs of Experience, a focus on the work of Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller, where the research of the Austrian photographer and filmmaker is reflected and expanded through juxtaposition with artworks by Sophie Thun, Seiichi Furuya, Talia Chetrit, and Philipp Fleischmann.
Beside Kubelka’s photographic works, which are on display in the space of the POLYPHONY column, the exhibition includes in its programme two evenings of projections with a selection of short films the artist made under her filmmaker pseudonym, vom Gröller, from the end of the 1960s to the 2000s. The artist’s filmography unfolds over a fragmented time span, from the first shorts of 1968 to the meeting with her first husband, Peter Kubelka, and other avant-garde filmmakers, including Jonas Mekas; from the new films of the 1980s and 90s, to the founding of the School for Independent Cinema in Vienna in 2006, up to her most recent works. Made strictly on film, mostly in black and white, without sound and lasting a single 16mm reel, vom Gröller’s shorts films are almost an extension of her life and of her encounters. “When filming”, the artist confesses, “I am precisely at the point where I am afraid that my consciousness will slip in all the time”.
The short films will be introduced by the artist herself, Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller.
The screening will take place in the Auditorium.
Free entrance until capacity is reached.
Introduction by Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller
To follow, a selection of short films by the artist:
In Rome, 2015
16mm film, 3’
This documentation of the filmmaker’s time in Rome starts with the camera looking onto an angel on the Ponte Sant’Angelo. The film then shifts from left to right – and back and forth – between architectural features and segments of buildings seen through the battlements, to details of a Kubelka’s significant other’s shirt, zoomed-in skin, and at times the walls of the castle; a contrast of textures, fluctuating from structure to the human figure and back again. It moves onto other landmarks and touristic spots of the city, with also photos of Roman attractions, squares and grotesque details of fountains and buildings, echoing Kubelka’s tendency to closely capture her subjects.
Maschile Roma, 2015
16mm film, 3’
In this film of barely three minutes we see, one after the other, close-ups of men gazing into the camera – first four men, then three times three different men. They all represent four different social classes in the form of portraits: construction worker, artist, butcher and fraternity member. They are not all Roman but were filmed in Rome, with the same stage directions: and only at the end, once the credits have finished, do we see a view of the city of Rome, of a fountain and its water-jet. Maschile Roma exemplifies how film and photography are so interrelated in Kubelka’s work: in this film she first photographed her protagonists as a way of getting closer to them. The takes pause on the each face for just a few seconds, embodying nonetheless a certain assertiveness, a palpable tension of seeing and being seen is revealed.
16mm film, 3’
The cinema of Friedl vom Gröller has the courage to follow the currents – of water and air, time and montage, words and meanings set adrift. Silent and in black and white, LEONARDO literally “floats” the words of da Vinci in no less than three languages: German, Italian, and English. What da Vinci philosophized about motion and change, vom Gröller embodies in the materiality of the cinematic medium. (Adrian Martin)
Sacrificio per la sirena, 2020
16mm film, 4’
A cheerful and playful ritual in praise of Mami Wata, a mermaid-like water spirit of life, sex and healing. In this film, which switches from black and white to color about half-way through, Friedl vom Gröller showcases a particular sense of humour and at the same time a praise for the unique beauty of 16mm film as we witness various objects float and become some sort of offerings in the water, all the while capturing the magic of light.
I’ avenir? de F.v.G?, 2018
16mm film, 4’
l´avenir? de F.v.G? begins with a pan along a gallery of large washing machines in a laundromat, capturing simultaneously a woman. She sits on a table with an expression that is somehow inquiring: the camera stops in front of the round window of a washing machine, cutting abruptly to three women: Corinne is a literal talking head who speaks sign language, using mouth, eyes, various muscles in her face to express herself. Beside her is Aisha – a Senegalese clairvoyant whose medium is Kauri shells – who also speaks with the help of her hands and fingers which, however, appear to have become rigid, cramped, and distorted by the bones thickened with arthritis; a third woman we only see from behind feeds coins into the machine. Language is at the forefront of this film, made visible as a craft used to interpret what is and what might perhaps be.
16mm film, 3’
Sen. focuses on the quality of life experienced at an advanced age. Six subjects are portrayed at a late stage in life with the usual directness characteristic of all of Friedl Kubelka’s films: an unadorned approach simultaneously empathetic and compassionate. The action of the film unfolds through the expressions of the protagonists and by what we seem to sense in our reading of their faces and gazes. Three men and three women between the ages of 70 and 80 mix in everchanging couplings, subject to the gaze of the camera and consequently our own. They are relaxed and indifferent, yet their mood is serious, perhaps even melancholic, their faces not expressing ageing but rather the intensity of their lived experiences and their will to exist.
Atelier d’expression, 2016
16mm film, 18’
At the center of Friedl’s films is the ability to shift the power relations between those who film, the camera, and the subjects depicted during the moment of the encounter. In Atelier d’Expression we briefly meet seven artists working in a workshop space on the grounds of the psychiatric department of a clinic in Fann, near Dakar. We get glimpses of the place as the camera follows the works and their surrounding space. Kubelka films each artist individually standing near their works and up-close, their gazes penetrating through the camera, alternating also with shots of just their works – a double portrait of the artist. A different type of art breaks into the film: lutteurs sénégalais, wrestlers, present their virtuosity on a beach as their bodies fighting and then standing side by side are captured by Kubelka. The artists are: gan-JAH, Djim, Ousmane Diop, Omar N´ Diaye, Tapha, Thierno, and Papis.
Max Turnheim, 2002–2021
Max Turnheim is an allegorical reflection on the physiosocial existence in the world and the passage of time. This thirteen part, long-term portrait, brings Kubelka’s emphasis on the gaze to complete fruition. Compressing an entire phase of life, the film creates a different kind of portrait which includes the separation from the parental home, the finding of an individual path, and a renewed longing for middle class institutions. What ties all of these moments together through time is a single face, recurring across the years of filming.