Julian Charrière, 2019
4K color film, 32:10 aspect ratio,
14.2 Ambisonics soundscape
104 minutes 30 seconds
Glacial landscapes have never before had such a strong visual presence in popular culture, where they serve
as prominent symbols of anthropogenic climate disturbance. Although few people have visited their remote
geographies, glacial regions loom large in the collective imagination, as a last stronghold and melting ideal
of a fantasized reality. Towards No Earthly Pole was conceived in 2017, when Julian Charrière was invited
aboard a Russian research ship as part of the first Antarctic Biennale, inspiring subsequent research and
expeditions to equally remote and hostile glacial regions.
Along with his Berlin-based team, he developed customized technological equipment, including drones
carrying spotlights and cameras. The video footage for the film was recorded at night, contrary to the
romantic image of a dazzling landscape of white snow and bright daylight that we generally see pictured.
The spotlight reveals the massive landscape in snippets, limiting the range of vision and heightening
its drama by the deep shadows the icebergs cast. Eerie sounds of cracking ice and water flowing remind us
that this frozen landscape is very much alive, breathing, moving and constantly evolving.
All of these elements combined underline an otherworldly presence and a scenario in which one begins to lose
all sense of grounding or scale, highlighting that the western man’s limited experience and, at times,
falsely constructed perception of the polar regions is both reinforced and challenged.
Director: Johannes Förster
Drone Pilots: Per Jacob Blut, Matt Cianfrani,
Production / Lighting: Carl Kemper
Production Assistance: Till Egen
Photography: Serena Acksel, Philipp Lee Heidrich
Technical engineering / Ground control:
Constantin Engelmann, Roman Kolbert
Editor / Postproduction Supervisior: Johannes Förster
Composer / Sound Designer: Robert Lippok
Spatial Sound Designer: Felix Deufel
Colorist: Jan Schöningh
Senior Compositing Artist: Tom Freeman, Neil Reynolds
Compositing Artist: André Roboredo, Christian Kaupert
Matchmover: Matthias Schiemann, Dragan Vujnic
Additional SFX: Omer Ben David, Karim Arnold Fuad
Postproducer: Julian Brinkmann
Postproduction Assistant: Yasmin Balai
VFX Technical Supervisor: Finn Jäger
Technician: Julian Link
An Invitation to Disappear, 2018
4K color film, 2.35:1 aspect ratio,
Ambisonics 3D-soundscape, soundtrack by Inland
76 minutes 44 seconds
An Invitation to Disappear is a filmic expedition into the heart of a lush dystopian landscape symptomatic of the current global derangement of ecological thinking. Entranced by a vague sense of promise, the camera slowly traverses a turbulent haze that gives way to reveal row upon row of oil palms heavily laden with fruit spreading out in every direction. Ambient noises of wind rustling the leaves and insects crying out to one another fall the forest with a tactile energy until eventually the natural cacophony of the forest falls into a system of repetitions and loops ever so subtlety, evoking an eerie mood. As the waning light of dusk penetrates the forest’s thick canopy the grid cast on the ground by sun’s last fickering rays is replaced by fashes of light deep in the distance. A low rhythmic pulse is felt before it is heard, inducing as sense of direction within the nauseating infnity of the grid. Inland (Ed Davenport) has developed the sounds of the grove alongside his signature brand of techno into a soundtrack taking form as an 80-minute continuous loop, in which he captures the essence of the serial rhythm of the monoculture plantation with an architectural precision. Drawn steadily towards a dark mirage by the rising sound, the camera happens upon a moment of jubilant devastation - clouds of smoke and flashes of light entangle the forest in a rave whose center cannot be pinpointed until the camera gradually arrives at a stage of loudspeaker towers and a DJ set. In the conspicuous absence of people, the party rages with mesmerizing intensity as strobe lights blind maniacally. As the night wears on delirium sets in; the base pounds relentlessly upon deaf ears of the monoculture planation, endlessly deferring the implied climax of collective consciousness. The scene oscillates between genuine and artifcial—the face of a synthetic jungle reveals its true self in which nature and culture seem to merge. The dim light of dawn fnally cuts through the palms fronds with a feeling of satisfaction like leaving a club after sunrise or reaching the proverbial light after death.
Malte Bartsch, 2017
Rakete is a 12-minute video that shows the launch and crash of 10 fireworks rockets in a loop one after the other.
What is special is that the rockets do not explode at the highest point as usual, but only when they are already on the descent - sometimes only shortly before the impact. The "false starts" of the rockets were artificially created by Bartsch and his team with the help of a rubber retractor and filmed on a wide field during twilight as well as in darkness. Here, the artist plays with the viewer's expectations by initially disappointing them, but subsequently rewarding them nonetheless. In addition, Rocket can be seen as an analogy to the life motto of a generation that permanently "celebrates itself" despite repeated failures, for example in environmental matters or in solving moral questions. The motif of the rocket appears frequently in Bartsch's works and plays with associations to the arms race, space travel, and visions of the future, but also with "setting out on a journey" and collective celebration.
Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charrière, 2018
Objects in Mirror Might Be Closer Than They Appear is a collaboration between Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck. This project was shot in the Exclusion Zone, an area stretching 30 kilometers in all directions centered on the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant whose explosion in 1986 rendered the land uninhabitable. The series is an excursion into the “involuntary park” which this region has become––a glimpse into a non-human space overrun by wildlife and forest as seen through the perspective of a living deer made possible by mounting a camera onto a deer's antlers and directed towards its eye. What is then seen is the reflection of the landscape onto the animal’s retina: a mixture of an invisibly decaying but thriving natural ecosystem and the ruins left by the humans that once dominated this space, rejected infrastructures of a forgotten nuclear past. The deformed image, a direct product of the curvature of the animal’s ocular perception system, serves as a metaphor to an altered present, an altered environment in which these animals now live. These images dialogue within the piece with found footage of the first spacial mission, the subjectivity of the astronaut looking at the earth from above directly responds to the subjective perspective of the deer itself.
Julian Charrière, 2016
4K color film, 16:9 aspect ratio
sound by Edward Davenport
21 minutes 03 seconds
The film work captures the structures’ of the Bikini Atolls’ atomic-industrial architecture decay, its manner of editing further suggesting morphological overlaps with the monstrous wrecks lying on the bottom of the Bikini Atoll lagoon, assailed by tide and time. Making no use of archival material––its original underwater images captured at depths far below standard dive profiles – Iroojrilik is unquestionably the most unique, and comprehensive, perspective on the maritime ruins of Bikini ever put together. Yet, rather than explicating individual vessels or buildings, the cumulative impression given is that of an Atlantis or lost civilization —architectural features of one ship cut together with those of others, such that it appears as though a submerged mega-structure has been discovered. On a more general note, the film employs another series of elisions and substitutions. Through a series of montages, mixing sunsets and sunrises, it proposes an uncertain distinction between daybreak and night fall––first light of a new day in Pacific history, and the waning of another. Visions of multiple suns and endless dawns stretch across the horizon. Pictorial energies shift and sway, like palm trees and coral ferns growing on cannon mounts, between construction and destruction, transporting the viewer to a “non-place,” or the beginning of a brave new world.
Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charrière, 2018
Three-channel video installation, Full HD color video, 16:9 aspect ratio, 3.1 sound
26 minutes 13 seconds
The artists Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck take the way we see natural monuments as the starting point for their latest work. Whether verified as World Heritage by UNESCO or designated as national parks, some parts of nature are considered more beautiful and precious than others. Such allocations of meaning are not objective but tied to culture-related constructions of value, as evidenced by the different ways in which nature is treated all around the globe.
This piece asks: What happens when one of these value-laden symbols is deliberately, arbitrarily destroyed? The general image of nature as an essential, positive entity still pervades, because such a brutal act of nature-vandalism seems hard to imagine. In a staged terroristic act, the two artists blow up an arched rock formation. A blurry video taken with a mobile phone shows the masked ‘perpetrators’ running away to safety. It is a successful illusion: both the arch’s typical reddish-brown rock strata and the surrounding scenery make us believe that the video was filmed in the Arches National Park, Utah. The presentation of the explosion does the rest.
In reality it is a different story. The actual explosion of the arch does not occur in Utah but in Mexico, with an artificial counterpart. In a very detail-oriented process, the arch is re-created with coloured concrete. The explosion is staged in a controlled manner with the assistance of a local production team.
The way everything is set up inevitably calls to mind ISIS propaganda videos – especially the blasting in Palmyra – or the destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan by the Taliban. Countless symbols of built heritage have already been wilfully destroyed. In this case particularly, a part of nature is targeted as a substitute for the man-made monuments of rulers, gods or cultural objects but to the same extent it is an attack on civilisation. This significance will be highlighted in the expected media coverage. The revelation of the video as fake news and the fact that the blown-up arch was not an actual natural monument do not make the action any less explosive. The way we construct and value nature becomes obvious. The destruction of this one, merely visual, signifier, perceived only by humans as symbolic and multivalent, stands against the rapid progression of the global destruction of the environment.
Colombia is traumatized by a deadly conflict that has lasted for more than 50 years. Death is omnipresent in social discourse; likewise, corruption, poverty, and exodus continue to shape the daily lives of many Colombians. It is primarily the civilians that suffer from human rights violations. Between 2000 to 2014, there were over 6 million internally displaced people in Colombia, and 26,000 Colombians are still missing to date. Injustice continues even after death: bodies disappear into mass graves, and families are left without any information about their losses.
Artist Edinson Quinones Falla is one of Colombia´s many displaced people. Like most of them, he spent his childhood in a house illegally built by his parents in a "barrio invasion." Because he beat a friend to death with a machete, he is threatened with juvenile detention at the age of 12. Afraid of prison and fearing revenge against himself and his family, he fled from home and spends the following years alternately with friends, his family, and in prison. In prison, he encountered art for the first time. He found in it a medium to express his frustration, pain, and powerlessness. It helped him to redeem himself - to heal his wounds, as he says. In his art, Edinson confronts the crimes and injustice of his country. By chance, in 2008, information fell into his hands - reports, indictments, wanted posters, and interrogations related to the murder of civilians in the Cauca Department. The names and execution sites of countless innocent civilians who were murdered were noted. Among the information, there was an old friend of his who was executed as a 'falso positivo'. His mother had denounced his disappearance. Edinson, who has information about the location of the burial, seeks out the mother. He asks her to allow him to dig her son up, to bring him back. Together they go to dig up the son's bones. In the meantime, he has visited 3 more families and exhumed 3 more dead bodies. His goal is to bring together an entire human skeleton, from the bones of different people.
Andreas Greiner, 2021
A photo archive collected by the artist in different forests since 2017 for the purpose of training Machine Learning Algorithms is displayed on a mobile phone similar to the one some of the pictures were taken with. This ‘digital forest’, exhibited across the room from a tree killed by bark beetles becomes more captivating than the ‘real’ forest standing opposite the video.
Felix Kiessling, 2020
Felix Kiessling’s new show entitled Taumel at Alexander Levy’s Berlin Gallery examines the „chaos within the social context of large cities“. A condition, or state we all experienced to a certain extend, not only in urban context’s like the city, but in our immediate surrounding. In a spatial context. In one that bares the structures of our feelings and associations as well as the symbols of our modern society. The bicycle here used by Kiessling represents both as one of such symbols: individuality and mass-production, modernity and mobility, but mostly it visualizes the divided relationship of an affluent society to its artifacts. This relations unfolds within Kiessling’s dialogue with the space. Material steel is formed into a minimalist sculpture by bending a four-meter long plank. Exposed to permanent tension, always close to escalation. Drywall profiles are braced against the gallery ceiling by a scaffolding spindle - freezing like a moment of deformation, before merging into a collective unit. Like his presentation, Kiessling’s raised questions seem utterly vital: Who and to which extent actually shapes the city – the citizens or the economy? Who looks at what our culturally constructed sense of stability consists of? And who considers moments in which our reality begins to crumble? The reality presented by the artist is minimal to a point, sublime in it’s construct, and uncannily concentrated!
-Philipp Fernandes do Brito
Johannes Förster (*1985) is a freelance filmmaker living and working in Berlin. Förster has been self-employed as a photographer and director since 2009.
Since 2012, he has increasingly focused on the production of art and documentary films.
His works deal with the visible and invisible roles of the individual in society and their engagement with the environment in the Anthropocene. In particular, his documentary works focus on contemporary socio-cultural issues, elaborated through historical juxtapositions. Förster questions the social status quo and invites viewers into imaginary and phantasmagorical spaces that challenge their viewers to reflect. His video works can be read as rhythmic, audiovisual collages that let viewers confront the surrounding realities by deconstructing them. He pursues a collaborative approach and has developed various video installations with artists presented in international museum contexts. In addition to collaborations with Julius von Bismarck, Malte Bartsch, and Andreas Greiner, he has worked for several years as director and editor with the conceptual artist Julian Charrière, such as: Iroojrilik, 2016 (Berlinische Galerie, MAMbo Bologna); An Invitation to Disappear, 2018 (Berghain Berlin, Taipei Biennale); Towards No Earthly Pole, 2019 (MASILugano, Dallas Museum of Art).
Director and Editor
Immersive video installation
Excerpt, by Julian Charrière
Aargauer Kunsthaus, 2020
© Julian Charrière
Kunsthalle Mainz, 2018
© Julian Charrière
© Julian Charrière
DoP and Editor
Excerpt, by Malte Bartsch
Co-Director and Editor
Excerpt, Julian von Bismarck and Julian Charrière
Excerpt, by Julian Charrière
Vienna, Austria, 2017
Co-Director and Editor
3 channel video installation
Excerpt, by Julius von Bismarck, and Julian Charrière
Director and DoP
Documentary film trailer
Excerpt, by Andreas Greiner
Excerpt, by Felix Kiessling
Alexander Levy, Berlin 2020