Long-term performance and artfilm
Currently in post-production
Performance: May 8th to June 15th, 2015
Press reviews: Kunstforum | Heilbronner Stimme | Performance Is Alive | Lavanderia Young
A VestAndPage production, 2015-16
On behalf of the Kulturzentrum Ostpreußen, Ellingen.
Funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
Artistic collaboration: Douglas Quin (Soundscape), Stephan Knies (Violin), Andreas Bauer (Basso profundo).
Collaboration: Heart of the City Bureau, Kaliningrad; Dom Samok Association, Chernyakhovsk.
TO REMEMBER IS LIKEWISE DANCING WITH THE MIND BETWEEN MYTH MAKING, TRUTH AND FORGETFULNESS.
From May 8th, 2015 on - marking the end of World War II in Europe in its 70th anniversary - German-Italian artist duo VestAndPage (Verena Stenke & Andrea Pagnes) walked the path of war exodus that Stenke’s ancestors went 70 years before, from East Prussia to Northern Germany, this time in the opposite direction: From Hemmingstedt, Northern Germany, to Insterburg/Chernyakhovsk (RU).
The plant plantain (German: Spitzwegerich) has been used as a signpost in times when there were no paved roads, as it grows because of its glutinous seeds where someone or something had already gone before. Hence this geophysical and anthropoetic project takes a personal story of the past civilian war displacement from East Prussia as a base for performatic reflection on the complexities of identities and memories of today. Through a process of identification within historical and geophysical emancipation, poetry of relations and memory relics.
The project builds on a long durational performance walk covering a distance of about 500 miles. It aims to investigate artistically themes such as: recollection - forgetfulness, roots - displacement, loss, endurance, lasting and emotional facts.
The walk has been entirely documented and rendered through an artfilm assembling art actions, dialogues, texts, relics, found objects, installations, soundscapes, images and videos. Along the itinerary, outsiders' remembrance authority played a determinant role in the process of gathering material for the recordings, to revisit fragments of history, which have been left behind: invisible threads, transformative evidences that connect past to present. The result turns into a sequence of moving images scanned through the lens of a social and geophysical perspective.
Stenke's grandmother fled upon the evacuation of East Prussia in winter 1945 in the civil exodus along the Baltic Sea to Northern Germany, over 500 miles that she would never go back. Later, the family was moved to southern Germany, where Verena was born. As a young adult she only knew that her grandparents "fled during the war" and "came from the north". There had never been a dialogue about the war or what it meant for the life of each single member of the family and the entire family.
As artists, it became necessary to find ways to connect spaces, lapses and gaps, might it be through fact or fiction. This includes the urgency of recalling what has been left unsaid, to puzzle pieces back together, to dig in the dust, to imagine possible worlds and to map impossible ones, to open closed boxes and to reveal what resides inside.
We listen to memories and opinions, remembering that all has been already edited by time and the mind, resulting little more than insects of time, skewed and prepared, doubting if it will be ever possible to keep a collective memory of those times accurate and accountable. Nevertheless we consider artistic memory work and poetic research not only of socio-historical and individual importance, but rather a collective responsibility to counter the silence, repression and oblivion – the ones of the past and the ones of the present.
As part of the transformational process, we went to pick up remains, details of the everyday, potential vessels of history, and re-frame them through a process of equally fragmented time. Through interpersonal communication and direct exchange of information that this project intends to facilitate, we can grow as individuals and enliven cultures in a global context, learning to see current events through the eyes of Walter Benjamin’s "Angel of History."
As for the project's process and result, while the actual live performance is physically strictly linear in time and space, the film work uncloaks the process by finding links between actions that occurred apparently disconnected – film here functions as a worm-whole, where space-time deludes in trivial boundaries. If the live performance is likewise an alchemical process, film is here a metaphysical attempt, and by combining live performance with filmmaking artistically an explosive theory of perception is being devised.
Plantain is an opportunity to engage with the recent past while focusing on the issue of the displaced - replaced - in-place body of today, through an investigation into how past and present speak to and through our bodies facing ethical, social and existential challenges.
Performance-based art film, Memory, History, Identity, Displacement, Exodus, Site-specific;, Soundscape, Archeology, Architecture, Politics, Anthropoetics, Filmmaking, Long Durational Performance