16 / 11 / 02 – 15 / 12 / 02
Exhibition / Films / Talks / Performance

Stadtluft (Version 2)
Wendelien van Oldenborgh (NL)

A little building in a urban park.

Beyond material abundance, the forces of the economy promised two distinct freedoms to those who lived behind the city’s walls. Today the visitor can see above the city gates, in cities which belonged to a medieval trade network, the Hanseatic League or Hanse, the motto: Stadtluft macht frei. In Paris, as in the hanseatic cities, the economy promised people to set them free from the inherited dependence embodied in the feudal labour contract. More, the city promised people new individual rights of propert.(…)
Medieval economic and religious developments pushed the sense of place in opposite directions, a dissonance, which echoes down in our times. The economy of the city gave people a freedom of individual action they could not have in other places; the religion of the city made places where people cared for each other.
Richard Sennet in Flesh and Stone, 1994

When the camera was hiding, a scene took place, expressing the split between the different spaces marked off visually by the different levels in the image.

There is the inside of the building where the toilets are, not visible, whilst closed off by doors. Then starts the outside, still under the roof, slightly elevated and separated from the surroundings by a row of thin pillars. This is where some people have created their room. The footpath passes in front of this space and is visually squeezed between it and a railing, which at this point keeps us at a distance from all the areas.

To talk about expression in public leads naturally to the question: what kind of expression is the human capable of in social relations? When a man pays a stranger a compliment for example, does he act expressively in the way a stage actor does?
Richard Sennet in The Fall of Public Man, 1972

When the camera was hiding it recorded a situation in which two men start a fight, a woman with white hair passes and is disturbed by the violence of the scene; some more people pass, show no interest in the goings on; meanwhile the woman disappears from the screen, the fight turns into a more ambiguous relation and ends in a romantic image.

Carnival celebrates the destruction of the old and the birth of the new world – the new year, the new spring, the new kingdom. The old world that has been destroyed is offered together with the new world and is represented with it as the dying part of the dual body. That is why in carnivalesque images there is so much turnabout, so many opposite faces and intentionally upset proportions.
Mikhail Bakhtin in Rabelais and his World, 1965

When the camera was introduced as a player and included in the situation, its presence clearly stated and accepted by all participants, another scenario unfolded. The scenes, which took place in front of the camera this time, were shifts between a serious practising and acting out of an imagined scene and moments when no acting was required.

A second camera follows the characters more close-up and they are at times jokingly checking if it is still looking at them.

To tell the truth as you see it is not necessarily the truth. To tell the truth as someone else sees it is, to me, much more important and enlightening.... I absolutely refuse to judge the characters in my films and it is imperative that the actors neither analyse themselves nor others, during the course of the filming.... I just wanted to record what people said, what they did, intervening as little as possible, or, in any case, trying never to film inside them, so to speak.
John Cassavetes, from a quotation in
The Films of John Cassavetes by Ray Carney, 1994

The second, handheld, camera records the characters as they are: aware of their role, aware of their exposure. Like actors who must create a believable character in front of an audience of strangers

The camera is capable of provoking people to reveal aspects of themselves that are fictional, to reveal themselves as creatures of imagination, fantasy and myth that they are.
Jean Rouch, quoted by Mike Eaton in
The Production of Cinematic Reality, in Anthropology – Reality - Cinema 1979

They are people who spend their days outside where exposure is inherent. Exposure and expression become connected. Public experience and private life become closely connected, and physical expression acquires visibility and judgement.

And we must never forget that if the atom’s structure is invisible, it is none the less real. I am aware of the existence of many things I have never seen.
And you too.
Clarice Lispector in The Hour of The Star, 1977