Close Up

10 June 2016: Shot – Countershot


This programme brings together the 16mm works of Peter Tscherkassky, highlighting the filmmaker’s early explorations of laboratory 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.

Introduced by Juliet Jacques

Peter Tscherkassky
1982 | 1'40 min | Colour & B/W | Digibeta

"One can determine a line in Tscherkassky’s oeuvre which turns around a game with filmic presentation, with degrees of recognisability – with the only-just and the not-any-more. Just to see desire. An example of this is Erotique. One sees swirling pictures, parts of a woman’s face, red lips, eyes in cyclical fragments of movement. Often it is difficult to tell which part of the body one actually sees (whoever wants to can see/imagine/think sexual organs and sexual acts.) The gaze gets hung up on partial objects, no integral, whole body to think about. No body, whose representation was always one of the problems in cinema." – Michael Palm

Ballett 16
Peter Tscherkassky
1984 | 4 min | B/W | Digital

"256 frame enlargements of a continuous dance movement were dissected into 16 segments, each consisting of 16 frames. These segments were rearranged and rephotographed frame-by-frame. The resulting synthetic composition of movement was rephotographed off a screen running at twice its normal speed in order to accelerate the final film." – Peter Tscherkassky

Peter Tscherkassky
1986 | 10 min | Colour | BetaSP

"The main distinguishing characteristic of Peter Tscherkassky’s work is the alternating between recognisable and abstract imagery, between theoretical reflection and lush sensuality. That is particularly true when he concerns himself with filmic space. In kelimba moving objects are introduced into a completely flat picture space. At the same time the movements are made "artificial" by being subordinated to a repetitive rhythm that transforms them into a dance." – Gabriele Jutz

Freeze Frame
Peter Tscherkassky
1983 | 10 min | B/W & Tinted | 16mm

"Freeze Frame is the best example of a filmic significator from which the transparency and invisibility has been removed. Material which has been repeatedly re-filmed (a construction site, a rubbish incinerating plant, industrial graveyards, an antenna and line-drawing like frame that continually falls over) are exposed on top of each other. The result is that an unambiguous reading of the picture, to say nothing of their positioning in a fictive room cannot even be attempted. This type of calculated picture removal is carried to the point where the film strip is stopped in the projector (and hence the title) and burns." – Michael Palm

Holiday Film
Peter Tscherkassky
1983 | 9 min | B/W & Tinted | 16mm

"[Holiday Film] juggles with closeness, distance and the successive removal of the object on show. A woman on a meadow, strolling around, narcisstically involved, wandering. Now and again one can see her breasts through her half-opened shirt. The camera film with a powerful telephoto lens. This idyll is radically destroyed when the woman suddenly looks directly into the camera. There is an immediate cut (the voyeur has been discovered) and the whole sequence of events begins from the beginning again, but each time re-filmed from the last till finally, only a completely abstract, flickering picture remains. The erotic view becomes increasingly memory." – Michael Palm

Love Film
Peter Tscherkassky
1982 | 8 min | B/W | 16mm

"[Love Film] is an ironic attack on one of the durable of the Hollywood clichés – the film kiss. A short take of mouths approaching each other is shown 522 times. But the kiss never takes place, merely the speed of the movement is continually increased. This excessive repetition of the theme destroys the "happy clarity" (Roland Barthes), that inhabits "the film kiss" myth." – Gabriele Jutz

tabula rasa
Peter Tscherkassky
1989 | 17 min | Colour | 16mm

"The target of tabula rasa is the heart of cinema. Voyeuristic desire as the pre-condition for all cinema pleasure is at stake here. What Christian Metz and Jacques Lacan have established in theory is rendered as film in tabula rasa. At the beginning we can recognise only shadows from which the picture of a woman undressing herself hesitantly emerges. But exactly at the point when one believes one can make out what it is, the camera is located in front of the object. tabula rasa takes distance, the fundamental principle of voyeurism, in so far literally, as it shows us the object of desire but continually removes it from our gaze." – Gabrielle Jutz

Motion Picture (La Sortie des Ouvrier de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon)
Peter Tscherkassky
1984 | 3 min | B/W | 16mm

"In the darkroom, 50 unexposed film strips were laid across a surface, upon which a frame of La Sortie des Ouvrier de l'Usine Lumière was projected. The stringing together of the individual developed sections make up the new film, which reads the original frame like a page from a musical score: within the strips from top to bottom and sequentially from left to right." – Peter Tscherkassky

Shot – Countershot
Peter Tscherkassky
1987 | 0’22 min | B/W & Tinted | 16mm

"Not a stage direction, but rather something very concrete is hidden behind the technical term. Something which betrays a little of the yearning for intelligent and playful dealings with the medium of short film" – Marli Feldvoss

running time ca. 60 min

Part of our Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller season