Braunschweiger Schule: Experimental Films from Germany

Expired October 29, 2021 2:00 AM
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Image credit: Cropped stills from Veit + Kätzl’s Blastogenese X.

Virtual admission is priced on a sliding scale: $5–25. Please pay what you can!

About this series:

The monthly film series GERMAN CINEMA NOW! is curated by Goethe Pop Up Seattle. This year, the series explores themes of disruption and continuity to inspire public dialogue about the ways in which the past shapes our moment and can inform a radically different future.

This screening, curated by Conrad Veit for Goethe Pop Up Seattle, is co-presented by Northwest Film Forum, Interbay Cinema Society, and Engauge Experimental Film Festival. At the in-person screening (ticketed separately) at Northwest Film Forum on Oct. 27 at 7pm PT, Program Curator Martin Schwartz of Goethe Pop Up Seattle will moderate a Zoom Q&A with directors Conrad Veit and Charlotte Maria Kätzl.

Curatorial Statement:

Today’s visual arts are hardly imaginable without the presence of the moving image, even if, as cross-border commuters between the art market and the film industry, filmmakers still find it difficult to assert their presence. However, in the Germany of the early 1970s, when the moving image still faced serious opposition within the established art world, it was a pioneering, practically visionary achievement when the University of the Arts in Braunschweig (HBK Braunschweig) had the bold idea to establish a seminar in film and video that understood itself wholly as visual art. In 1972, directed by Gerhard Büttenbender (later co-directed with Birgit Hein and since 2006 by Michael Brynntrup) the film department at HBK Braunschweig came into being. With it, something we can call the “Braunschweiger Schule” (Braunschweig School) has developed, encompassing to this day experimental films, video art, and multimedia installations that, far from conceptions of scenic-narrative feature film, testify both to a powerful visual richness and to an anarchic lightness, and demonstrate how diverse and colorful film can be if only it is afforded full artistic freedom.

Accordingly, when Goethe Pop Up Seattle approached me after the premiere of our film Blastogenese X at the Berlinale regarding a screening of the film and a possible accompanying program, it seemed only fitting to “bring along” a selection of films and representatives of this Braunschweig School, who arose from the same context in which I too was, in part, socialized into art. In the context of Blastogenese X, the program focuses on highly idiosyncratic, at times heightened staging of figurative performance. Common to all these works, whether by Mattuschka, Melhus, Brynntrup, Versum, or Charlotte Maria Kätzl and myself, is that, made with simple and quite limited means, they draw freely from the most various bits and pieces of film history and pop culture, consciously employing trash as an ironic stylistic device in order to give rise to strange, other, nearly iconic figures and filmic spaces.

Conrad Veit, Guest Curator

By quoting the most diverse identification models from the memory bank of 20th century Pop culture and its embodiment by Melhus himself, a completely new contextualisation of known roles is provoked. In a psychic sense the film’s creatures are animated by the voices of the non-dead dead (James Dean, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison), who achieved eternal youth and media immortality only through their early death.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    28 minutes
  • Note
    16mm transferred to video, color
  • Director
    Bjørn Melhus