There are no rules! Restored and Revisited Avant-Garde Films from the Netherlands

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From the 4th until the 6th of June curator Simona Monizza from the Eye Filmmuseum and freelance curator Marius Hrdy will be presenting a series of 4 programs of preserved Dutch experimental films from the Eye collection at the Filmmuseum in Vienna. These four programs will showcase analogue prints on 35mm and 16mm.

This rare chance to get acquainted with Dutch experimental films will be opened by a focus on artist Barbara Meter, whose work is touring the world in the beautifully curated program by Mónica Savirón. Following there will be two programs centered on the Dutch Filmliga, one of the very first avant-garde film club of the 20's. To finish, the last program, 'Movements' will showcase Dutch post-war experimental films from the 50's up until now.

In 1927 the foundation of the Filmliga (the Dutch Film League) followed the publication of a manifesto by the collective's leaders Menno ter Braak, L.J. Jordaan and Henri Scholte. Their objective: to promote film as art by devoting particular attention to the editing, rhythm and composition of films. With works ranging from Joris Ivens' Soviet-inspired documentaries to J.C.Mol's abstract aesthetics in science films such as Uit het rijk der kristallen, the Filmliga played a pivotal role in creating an international artistic base for the vibrant generations to come. A focus on the groundwork in the two Filmliga programs, Shapes and Structures, should familiarize us with classic works while transcending their mission of engaging in and further developing the aesthetic discourse.

While the avant-garde of the 20s is better-known for its artistic innovations, the experimental scene that emerged in the Netherlands after World War II has not been documented or researched to the same extent. The second part of this series serves as a glimpse into a relatively unknown alternative film culture. In their funny, meditative or at times provocative way, as well as in their use of the film medium, these films reflect the political, social and artistic climate of the country.

The (albeit brief) existence of the Dutch Film Co-op and the flourishing alternative venues for film, music and mixed media of the late ‘60s and early '70s helped create a fertile ground for filmmakers. The founding of the Electric Cinema by, among others, Matthijn Seip and Barbara Meter, whose mesmerizing work will be highlighted in a separate artist-in-focus program, promoted a fruitful exchange of films and ideas with fellow artists from other countries. It is this richness and eclectic approach to filmmaking that the program Movements sets out to celebrate.

June 4th, 21h
Barbara Meter: Found Sounds

  • Lamento Audio performance by Remco Campert. 3 min
  • Ariadne (2004) Barbara Meter. 35mm (from Super 8), color, 12 min
  • Appearances (2000) Barbara Meter. 16mm (from Super 8), bw, 21 min
  • Convalescing (2000) Barbara Meter. 16mm (from Super 8), color, 3 min
  • Song for Four Hands (1970) Barbara Meter. 16mm (from Super 8), color, 3 min
  • Stretto (2005) Barbara Meter. 16mm, color, 6 min
  • Portraits (1972) Barbara Meter. 16mm (from Super 8), Dual projection, color, 6 min
  • A Touch (2008) Barbara Meter. 16mm, color, 13 min

"You didn't have to fight your way through the hierarchy, you could just grab a camera and get to work." - Barbara Meter

In the early 1970s, in need of a critical response to the commercialization of film production and programming, Barbara Meter (b. 1939) co-founded the Electric Cinema in Amsterdam. Run by members of the Amsterdamse Film Co-op and STOFF (Studio for the Development of Film and Film Manifestations), the theater became the epicenter of Dutch independent and avant-garde filmmaking. At the Electric Cinema, Meter curated international avant-garde and expanded cinema programs. After that, she co-created POLKIN (Political Kinema) and made documentaries as part of activist and feminist movements. In her avant-garde films, she pushes the cinematic medium forward with her unique way of repurposing documents and audio recordings, utilizing an innovative, masterful application of optical printing techniques. Meter manipulates the images and reworks found sounds to find and create a personal expressive mode. (M.S.)

This program is curated by Mónica Savirón in collaboration with Eye Filmmuseum.

Introduced by Simona Monizza
Barbara Meter: Found Sounds (Film Notes) (PDF)

June 5th, 19h
Filmliga 1: Shapes

  • Uit het rijk der kristallen (1927) J.C. Mol. 35mm, bw, 16 min (18fps)
  • Images d'Ostende (1929) Henri Storck. 35mm, bw, 14 min (18fps)
  • Dagjesmenschen (1929) Henri Storck. 35mm, bw, 8 min (18fps)
  • Disque 957 (1928) Germaine Dulac. 35mm, bw, 5 min (18fps)
  • Regen (1929) Joris Ivens, Mannus Franken. 35mm, bw, 17 min (18fps)
  • In der Nacht (1931) Walter Ruttmann. 35mm, bw, 6 min

This Filmliga program concentrates on shapes and movements. From the crystalline, floating structures of J.C. Mol's Uit het rijk der kristallen to the real-life waves of the Belgian seaside of Henri Storck's Images d'Ostende, the Filmliga members notoriously strove to point out different film aesthetics by juxtaposing opposing filmic examples. This friction resulted in heated discussions at their sessions in the auditorium. Here we see the austere camera-eye mechanics of Joris Ivens and Mannus Franken's Regen set against Ruttmann's expressionist verve in In der Nacht combined with Germaine Dulac's Disque 957. This program seeks to reflect on the logic behind a Filmliga-curated program while also transcending it. The international hub the Filmliga created in their time radiates well into the generations after, significantly expanding the notion of "Dutch" filmmaking. (M.H.)

Introduced by Simona Monizza and Marius Hrdy
Piano accompaniment by Gerhard Gruber

June 5th, 21h
Filmliga 2: Structures

  • De brug (1928) Joris Ivens. 35mm, bw, 16 min (18fps)
  • Fragment Nul Uur (1928) Nul Andor von Barsy, Simon Koster, Otto van Neijenhoff. 35mm, color, 15 min (18fps)
  • Hoogstraat (1929) Andor von Barsy. 35mm, color, 11 min (18fps)
  • Doordeweekse dag (1932) Anonymous. 35mm, bw, 35mm, 6 min (18fps)
  • Diepte (1933) Frans Dupont. 35mm, bw, 6 min
  • Kristallen in kleur (1927) J.C. Mol. 35mm, color, 9 min (18fps)

Overcoming natural obstacles is an integral part of everyday Dutch life. Dams, dikes and canals, man-made constructions are symbiotic with nature. Iven's steely romance De Brug, overlooking the Maas harbour of Rotterdam from a bridge, is a study in pure gazing and dynamic editing. In Hoogstraat, Andor van Barsy offers a vivid example of a city symphony, featuring a Punch-and-Judy opening and observation of the city-dwelling buzz. Fragment nul uur nul has a ring of such a symphony, yet plays eclectically with form and image. This hidden gem was originally conceived as a backdrop to a theatre play and offers, if you will, a form of expanded theatre/cinema. The Filmliga protagonists' practice of cutting up films as they saw fit or showing only fragments and loose ends to support their aesthetic preferences is reflected here. In closing, a glimpse of a new generation of filmmakers, Frans Dupont's absolute film Diepte, is followed by Mol's Kristallen in kleur, both leading us to the territory of architectural abstraction: a call for what is yet to come. (M.H.)

Introduced by Simona Monizza and Marius Hrdy
Piano accompaniment by Gerhard Gruber

June 6th, 19h
Movements

  • Gyromorphosis (1957) Hy Hirsh. 16mm, color, 7 min
  • Vipers (1955) Shinkichi Tajiri. 16mm, bw, 9 min
  • Tulips (1966) Wim T. Schippers, Wim van der Linden. 16mm, color, 3 min
  • Ancientry (1969) Paul de Mol. 16mm, bw, 2 min
  • Living (1971) Frans Zwartjes. 16mm, color, 15 min
  • Keep on Turning (1974) Karin Wiertz, Jacques Verbeek. 16mm, bw, 3 min
  • Touring Holland by Bicycle (1981) Paul de Nooijer, Jerry Musser. 16mm, color, 3 min
  • Space Modulation (1994) Bart Vegter. 16mm, bw, 1 min
  • Red Mill (2013) Esther Urlus. 35mm, color, 5 min
  • Earth of Delightful Gardening (2009) Francien van Everdingen. 35mm, color, 6 min
  • Careless Reef Part 4: Marsa Abu Galawa (2004) Gerard Holthuis. 35mm, color, 12 min

While not shying away from using iconic Dutch images like tulips, windmills or bicycles, each of the films in this program explores the potential of movement, or its lack, within the filmic medium. In applying diverse techniques, visual modes and styles, the Dutch post-war experimental film scene was highly individualist, with filmmakers who pursued their artistic visions quite independently of each other. Very diverse, but less known to an international audience, this program brings together restorations of works spanning six decades, disclosing the vast potential of experimental works united by a common desire to create an alternative language as an antidote to the mainstream visual culture of their time. (S.M.)
 
Introduced by Simona Monizza

All four programs showcase preserved and restored prints from the rich collection of the Eye Filmmuseum. They provide a glimpse into the institution's archival practices, demonstrating its dedication to the safeguarding of artists' films. The programs will be introduced by Simona Monizza, restorer and curator of artists' films at the Eye and Marius Hrdy, curator in residence at the Eye.

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Dates: 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 (All day) to Thursday, June 6, 2019 (All day)
  • Augustinerstraße 1
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