The Elegance of an Empty Room

Participating artists: Jan Peter Hammer, Laure Prouvost, Michael Glawogger, Kate Cooper, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Richard Brouillette and Michelangelo Antonioni

1 / 29 / 2016, 7 pm
Kate Cooper
UK, 2014, 6:22 min

Through an extensive use of CGI techniques, commercial photography, and post-production, the artist Kate Cooper highlights the labor inherent in the creation of images, looking at the position the female body has occupied in the history of digital image technology. The video RIGGED is a creation and re-rendering of images of the body, asking how digital figures might perform in our place made real as downloadable, ultra-realized bodies.

Kate Cooper (*1984 in Liverpool, England) is a co-founder and director of the artist-run organization Auto Italia South East, she has initiated projects investigating how artists can work together to invent and create new formats for artistic production.

The Elegance of an Empty Room

2 / 2 / 2016, 7 pm
Michelangelo Antonioni
US, 1970, 111 min.

ZABRISKIE POINT presents an outsider's view of the United States between student unrest and the myth of a wonderland full of limitless potentials. Antonioni's first and only American production became a studio nightmare and box-office disaster for MGM. The flight of a young couple through the south-west of the United States and the desert landscape of Death Valley far away from civilization end in death and destruction. The apocalyptic ending is breathtaking: Antonioni has a luxurious mansion explode in slow motion, accompanied by the music of Pink Floyd.

Michelangelo Antonioni's (1912–2007) answer to the question posed in an interview in 1978 – what he would have done in a world without films – was short and concise: "Films!" Even if cinema could look back on a history of close to fifty years when Antonioni started with his first film, the "architect of modern cinema" and the "perfecter of forms" innovated, shaped and transformed cinema like few other directors have.

The Elegance of an Empty Room

2 / 19 / 2016, 7 pm
Michael Glawogger
AT, 2009, 112 min.

Ratz wants to kill his father – at least virtually. To this end he invents a computer game in which he can do battle with his father and, level by level, can injure and kill him as often as he wants. Otherwise, 35-year-old Ratz doesn’t get up to much. He is engaged in a silent struggle with the rest of the world: he struggles because he is the son of a Minister, because he loves his sister the way you aren’t supposed to love a sister, and because he doesn’t seem to be able to come to grips with the world at all.
And then he receives a phone call. At the other end of the line he hears a voice from the past – Mimi. She wants her childhood friend to come to New York. She needs his help, she says. Ratz has always been willing to help Mimi with many things, and besides, there’s not much to keep him in Vienna these days. And so he sets off on a journey that takes him way back into history and into the world of his forefathers. Once in New York, Ratz is faced with a number of disturbing questions: who is the old man in the cellar, how much of Mimi’s feelings are pretence, and what kind of virtual murders are permissible to make a quick buck? Ratz finds himself drawn into the history of a Jewish family that was massacred by the Nazis in Lithuania. He also becomes involved in the story of the family of one of the perpetrators of this horrific crime now living in exile in America and still harboring a dreadful secret. In addition, he is obliged to witness the gradual disintegration of his own family.

Michael Glawogger (*1959 in Graz, Austria) studied at the Filmacademy in Vienna. He is a director, writer and cinematographer and his work in each of these roles displays a broad spectrum. His recent works range from the literary adaptation KILL DADDY GOOD NIGHT (2009) and the quirky comedies SLUGS (2004) and CONTACT HIGH (2009) to his essayist documentaries MEGACITIES (2009) and WORKINGMAN'S DEATH (2004).


The Elegance of an Empty Room

3 / 1 / 2016, 7 pm
Richard Brouillette
CA, 2008, 160 min.

An engraving by Francisco Goya, "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters", was the inspiration for Richard Brouillette's documentary about neo-liberalism, whose adherents preach the dogmas of deregulation, privatization, a reduced state, and unlimited faith in the self-healing powers of the market. Academics and intellectuals analyze the ways in which an economic theory became an ideology that has ensnared communities around the world in all aspects of life. The film allows these experts to have their say in the truest possible sense: instead of going the route of TV documentaries and employing pie charts, voice-over, and pitiful images of globalization’s victims to create a false sense of being informed, Brouillette aims for sober rigor. He finds a form for this approach in long, black-and-white shots of his interviewees, whose remarks he supplements with text inserts. Encirclement was twelve years in the making. Surely Brouillette's choice to film his documentary in 16mm – unusual for today's standards – contributed to the precision that ultimately turns the viewer into a member of a new kind of think tank.

Richard Brouillette is a film producer, director, editor and programmer. Starting as a film critic for the Montréal weekly, Voir (1989), he then worked for Québec's top independent distribution company, Cinéma Libre (1989-1999), which has since folded. In 1993, he founded the artist-run center Casa Obscura, a multi-disciplinary exhibition space, where he still runs a weekly cine-club called Les projections libérantes, for which he is also the projectionist.


3 / 15 / 2016, 7 pm
Jan Peter Hammer
DE, 2013, 45 min.

On 25 February 2010, seconds after having completed a live performance at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, Tilikum—a captive bull orca—dragged his trainer Dawn Brancheau underwater and drowned her. As it later emerged, the forty-year-old was Tilikum’s third victim. Fascinated by this story (and its afterlife in the mainstream news media), Hammer began to research the incident, which revealed details about the entertainment-industrial complex of which Sea World is a part. He also discovered a bizarre web of connections between the earliest 'oceanic' leisure centers and Cold War military research–links full of grim twists and turns ranging from grisly development of sensory deprivation techniques, fatal early experiments on dolphins, LSD-fuelled scientists, interspecies communication, and what all this has to do with the space race.

Jan Peter Hammer (born 1970 in Kirchheim unter Teck, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. He studied at the Universität der Künste Berlin and received his Master of Art at the Hunter College in New York. He is represented by Supportico Lopez, and has exhibited at COMA in Berlin, Bergen Assembly Triennial, AGORA Athens Biennale.

The Elegance of an Empty Room

3 / 29 / 2016, 7 pm
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
US, 2009, 101 min.

An unsentimental elegy to the American West, SWEETGRASS follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed.

Sheep – as far as the eye can see. The anthropologists and filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash spent three summers documenting sheep farming at one of the last family-owned ranches in the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains. A sheep eats, and we see and hear it chew and the tinkle of the bell around its neck. Then it discovers the camera and fixes its eyes on us, freezing the image. Now all we hear is the wind. Original sound of this kind helps lend precision to every shot. During shearing we can actually feel the physical exertion of the shepherds and the dazed state of the sheep. The order of the gaze in space analyzes the relationship of a newborn lamb to the herd, to its mother, and to the shepherd. Then a thousand sheep push through a gate or follow the trail of grass left by a feeding machine, and it has the effect of a crowd scene in an epic film. By the time we have reached the top of the mountain and the herder calls his mother complaining of knee pain, our image of the lonely shepherd has been replaced by that of the cowboy. In scenes like this and in the coarse humor of the ranchers as they handle the animals during branding lies the story of free-range sheep farming in the American West, a story that began in the nineteenth century and is now slowly coming to an end.

Castaing‐Taylor’s (*1966, Liverpool, United Kingdom) received his B.A. at The University of Southern California and his Ph.D. at The University of California, Berkeley. He is an anthropologist and artist who works in film, video, and photography. Since 2002 he has taught at Harvard University, where he is Director of the Sensory Ethnography Lab.

4 / 9 / 2016, 7 pm

Laure Prouvost
UK, 2014, 9 min.

In HOW TO MAKE MONEY RELIGIOUSLY, two slightly altered versions of the same piece play sequentially in a loop, creating a moment of déja vu. Centering on the problems as well as the possibilities of memory and forgetting, the piece addresses the arbitrary distinctions that can be ascribed to power and possession. Prouvost expands her multi-layered investigation of the slippages between systems of communication, and conjures diverse interpretations dependent on how one perceives or remembers the story, while considering consumption, desire and the persuasive syntax of Internet scams. In her films, she often addresses viewers directly, manipulating their senses through a barrage of fast-paced moving images, directive texts, and interspersed clips of sound to achieve a physical experience.

Laure Prouvost (*1978 in Lille, France) finished her studies at the Goldsmiths College in London. She showed her works among others in Haus Der Kunst in Munich, New Museum in New York and Grand Palais in Paris.

The Elegance of an Empty Room