Close Up

10 - 12 June 2016: Close-Up on Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller


Close-Up is thrilled to present the first full UK retrospectives of the work of boundary pushing Austrian filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky and Austria based, American poetic filmmaker Eve Heller.

The films of Peter Tscherkassky have played a central role in the international reawakening of interest in avant-garde film. At the turn from a photographic to a digital culture of moving images, his work follows in the footsteps of Austrian masters Kurt Kren, Peter Kubelka, and Ernst Schmidt Jr. to create a thrilling filmic language that engages psychoanalysis and semiotics whilst exploring the physicality of the medium and its potential to overwhelm.

Tscherkassky’s working method – painstakingly hand printing found-footage material frame-by-frame in the darkroom – gives his films a deeply materialist form, yet through the flickering fragments they remain rigorously committed to deconstructing and expanding cinematic form. Similarly interested in investigating cinema’s origins and language, Eve Heller’s body of work largely takes the form of quieter, often lyrical, material experiments that utilise both found and self-shot footage to draw out latent meaning in her subjects. ­­­­

We’re delighted that all these programmes have been fully authorised and co-curated by Heller and Tscherkassky, and they will both be present to participate in Q&A’s with Juliet Jacques after each of Saturday’s programmes.

Curated by Oliver Dickens, this programme is part of the 60th anniversary of the Austrian Cultural Forum London. We would like to thank the ACF and Sixpack Film for their unconditional support to make this programme possible.

Programme 1: Shot – Countershot

This programme brings together the 16mm works of Peter Tscherkassky, highlighting the filmmaker’s early explorations of dark room technique and found footage film to form a clear trajectory from the astonishingly rich period of Austrian avant-garde filmmaking of the 1960s and 70s. Tscherkassky follows in the footsteps of celebrated masters Kurt Kren, Peter Kubelka, and Ernst Schmidt Jr., to create a filmic language that explores the three core concerns of material experimentation, sensual eroticism, and rigorous theoretical discourse. read more

Introduced by Juliet Jacques

Erotique, Peter Tscherkassky, 1982, 1'40 min, Colour & B/W, Digibeta
Ballett 16
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1984, 4 min, B/W, Digital
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1986, 10 min, Colour, BetaSP
Freeze Frame
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1983, 9'38 min, Colour & B/W, 16mm
Holiday Film
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1983, 9 min, B/W & Tinted, 16mm
Love Film
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1982, 8 min, B/W, 16mm
tabula rasa
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1989, 17 min, Colour, 16mm
Motion Picture (La Sortie des Ouvriers de l´Usine Lumière à Lyon)
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1984, 3 min, B/W, 16mm
Shot – Countershot
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1987, 0’22 min, B/W & Tinted, 16mm

running time ca. 60 min

Programme 2: Behind this Soft Eclipse

We’re thrilled to present a programme bringing together the film works of Austria-based, American experimental filmmaker Eve Heller in the first London retrospective of her work.

Predominantly working with found-footage material, Heller illuminates brief moments that slip away from the viewer’s gaze, like the clear yet fragmented images of a dream. Like Tscherkassky, Heller interrogates image and form through a multitude of material processes applied both in the laboratory and in-camera. Flickering light, multiple exposures, the grain of the emulsion, repetition, and slow motion reveal and heighten latent meanings and the often-humorous poetry of the everyday. read more

Eve Heller will be in conversation with Juliet Jacques following the screening

Self​-Examination Remote Control, Eve Heller, 1981-2010, 5 min, Colour, 35mm
, Eve Heller, 1978-2010, 2 min, B/W, 35mm
, Eve Heller, 1982-2010, 4 min, B/W, 35mm
Ruby Skin
, Eve Heller, 2005, 4 min, Colour, 16mm
Her Glacial Speed
, Eve Heller, 2001, 4 min, B/W, 16mm
Behind this Soft Eclipse
, Eve Heller, 2004, 10 min, B/W, 16mm
Creme 21
, Eve Heller, 2013, 10 min, Colour, Digital
Astor Place
, Eve Heller, 1997, 10 min, B/W, Restored DCP
Last Lost
, Eve Heller, 1996, 14 min, B/W, Restored DCP

running time ca. 90 min

Programme 3: The Exquisite Corpus

Our second programme on Peter Tscherkassky focuses on his 35mm film works, including his early flirtation with the format Manufracture, through rigorous structural experiments and comical home movie imagery; culminating with the UK premiere of his most recent, widely celebrated film The Exquisite Corpus.

Tscherkassky’s later oeuvre reveals a distinct shift and refinement of aesthetic, owing much to his move to the larger gauge format and its capacity for more precise technical handling of complex source materials. Investigating deep into the ontological basis of cinema, Coming Attractions interrogates links between early-cinema, advertising and the avant-garde; an agenda that Tscherkassky takes further still in The Exquisite Corpus’ sculptural montaging of soft porn films, surreal comedy, and rayographs to explore human and filmic bodies. read more

Peter Tscherkassky will be in conversation with Juliet Jacques following the screening

Manufracture, Peter Tscherkassky, 1985, 3 min, B/W, 35mm
Parallel Space: Inter​-View
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1992, 18 min, B/W, 35mm
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1996, 11 min, Colour, 35mm
Nachtstueck (Nocturne) (Mozart Minute 09)
, Peter Tscherkassky, 2006, 1 min, B/W, 35mm
Coming Attractions
, Peter Tscherkassky, 2010, 25 min, B/W & Tinted, 35mm
The Exquisite Corpus
, Peter Tscherkassky, 2015, 19 min, B/W, 35mm

running time ca. 120 min

Programme 4: Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine

Peter Tscherkassky’s first foray into Cinemascope – leading to his stunning Cinemascope trilogy – takes on the final instalment of Sergio Leone’s epic Dollars trilogy. Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine sees Tscherkassky gleaning footage from Leone’s genre classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, bending and augmenting it into his own revisionist Western – a Greek tragedy in which the hero meets the conditions of his own possibility. read more

Introduced by Juliet Jacques

Get Ready, Peter Tscherkassky, 1999, 1 min, B/W, 35mm
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine
, Peter Tscherkassky, 2005, 17 min, B/W, 35mm
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
, Sergio Leone, 1966, 180 min, Colour, DCP

running time ca. 200 min

Programme 5: The Cinemascope Trilogy

Completing our Peter Tscherkassky retrospective we present the Austrian filmmaker’s most well known body of work, a trilogy of films taking on the "widescreen" Cinemascope format. Beginning with L’Arrivée – cinema year zero – as the Lumière brothers’ infamous train arrives at the station and precedes to crash through the celluloid screen, Tscherkassky reconstructs cinematic language to his own devices. The second and third instalments both use the Sidney J. Furie’s voyeuristic poltergeist film The Entity as material with which to explore Freudian Otherness and the dream space of Cinema in a whirling maelstrom of fragmented imagery and flickering light. read more

Introduced by Juliet Jacques

L'Arrivée, Peter Tscherkassky, 1998, 3 min, B/W, 35mm
Outer Space
, Peter Tscherkassky, 1999, 10 min, B/W, 35mm
Dream Work
, Peter Tscherkassky, 2001, 11 min, B/W, 35mm
The Entity
, Sidney J. Furie, 1982, 125 min, Colour, Digital

running time ca. 150 min

Peter Tscherkassky's Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine, Cinemascope Trilogy and The Exquisite Corpus will also be screened at the ICA Saturday 11 June at 4pm:

This programme is kindly supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum and sixpackfilm: