Wir lagern ums Feuer, Performance, Dauer: 40 Min.
Mit Jürgen Reble und Jochen Müller
December 19th, 1987: Schmelzdahin produces film strips at the 1st Filmwinter Stuttgart in a back room at the Casino pub. The short film programme is called “Hell und Dunkel” (Super 8) – (“Light and Dark”). Involved in all this are Michael Brynntrup, Matthias Müller, Hanna Nordholt and Fritz Steingrobe, Anarchistische Gummizelle, Inga Sawade and the festival’s founder Ebi Niethammer.
We invited Schmelzdahin to do an anniversary performance 300 years later. There will also be a retrospectives show with digitally restored works.
Schmelzdahin from Bonn should be considered a pure film production collective rather than a performance group even though the group indeed realized public film actions. In the course of their six-year-long concerted film production from 1983 to 1989, the members Jochen Lempert, Jürgen Reble and Jochen Müller set up a comprehensive archive of found, bought and self-made films. The basic idea of their works was not just to put together individual film sequences in new combinations to generate a new field of association and correlations. An important aspect were the varied and unique forms of treating the material. For months, certain film strips would lie in a pond until they were covered in algae. Bacteria would corrode the film’s layers while stored in the garden. The “harvested films” were then cleaned and dried and copies were produced on a self-made machine. Based on aesthetic criteria, the random results of the degradation process were explored thoroughly until deciding on a final selection of the film strips for the respective productions. In this almost uncalculable biochemical transformation of film material, the film explorers discovered the “natural wonder celluloid”. Upon filming the material again, overheating also brought up new visual dimensions of film, ranging from a change in colours to formation of bubbles. Among critics, the poetry of rough images often led to irritation: “They simply transport the recipient to incoherent emotional moments which leave no fundament for thought patterns. Furthermore the film technique lets go of all conventions: in parts, one can make out nothing but blurred colours or shadows” was the criticism of film connoisseurs. (...) Going beyond pure film productions, they often did public performance-like presentations of their distinctive film craftsmanship. Klaus Peter Krager of Badische Zeitung, describes the process and aesthetic possibilities of such a film performance as follows: ‘There is something mysterious to it. The Super 8 projector is set up on a small table in front of the screen – it’s an old machine, one can see what it has been through. A piece of a black and white movie – glued together to produce a loop of a few metres – a German Western copied from a movie format to Super 8 to be watched at home, back then when Video had not been invented yet. The film is diverted via a coat hanger and several wire hoops so that the same images run through the projector again and again. The dim flickering lights of candles on the table is just enough for the two alchemists of the Bonn-based experimental group Schmelzdahin to work on the material – simultaneously with the screening. Steam arises as they put on the acid. The film is dragged through degrading solutions, scratched, pierced by punch pliers, and treated with transparent colour. The images on the screen are constantly changing – none of the cycles are like the ones before. The black and white images take on a brown-yellowish patina, then turn to a gloomy red and a blue trace, running down from the right edge, bleeds into the images. Due to the impact of the chemicals and the heat of the projector’s light, the images decompose more and more until one can see nothing but ulcerous bubbles on the screen. The latent image of the film, formerly only made visible with developer and fixing bath in the first place, is becoming blurred again with the help of chemicals.’” (Ulrich Wegenast, Der Experimentalfilm im deutschsprachigen Raum 1977 bis heute, Stuttgart 1996)
FITZ! Zentrum für Figurentheater, Studio, Theater tri-bühne
Kulturareal „Unterm Turm“, Eberhardstraße 61, 70173 Stuttgart
U-Bahn / S-Bahn: Haltestelle Stadtmitte / Bus: Haltestelle Wilhelmsbau