Surface Tension Series

The Surface Tension Series

A three- part video series by

Liz Rosenfeld

 
Frida & Anita, 2010, 20 mins
A glimpse into 1920’s Berlin through an imagined one night stand between the queer chanteuse, Anita Berber, and Frida Kahlo. Inspired by early expressionist silent German films, this video challenges the use of nostalgia through a particular lens of queer underground Berlin today.     
 
Film Trailor: http://vimeo.com/13571889      
 
Höch, 2011, TBA
Set in East Berlin in 1977, this short experimental documentary interviews the Dadaist Artist Hannah Höch as she reflects upon her experiences living and working during part of the 1920’s in Berlin. Höch compares the socio- political landscape of Berlin in the 1970’s to it’s romanticised past of the Wiemar Era, while questioning the usefulness of nostalgia as an emotive tool.
 
Film Trailor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpdOD1wdXGM
 
 Die Neue Frau, 2011, TBA
A reel constructed of “un-covered” home movies made by Leni Riefenstahl in 1933 ( the last official year of The Weimar Republic), exposing an ambiguous relationship she had with Eva Braun. This video is an intimate portrait of two prominent women who are integral witnesses to Berlin’s transition from decadence into fascism.

SHORT DESCRIPTION

The Surface Tension Series is comprised of 3 experimental videos tracking the rise/fall of the Weimar Era in Berlin through the perspectives of three female artists. This series examines contemporary queer Berlin, and the way in which nostalgia has infected/ affected romantic perspectives of how queer histories are read.

TREATMENT

“…finding a space for the enactment of a queer self can, in itself, be a queer act.”Jose Muñoz, Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer, Act (13)

As a triptych presentation, Surface Tension imagines the lives of 3 artists (Anita Berber, Hannah Höch, Leni Riefenstahl) who lived during the Weimar Era in Berlin. Historicized through popular culture and the romantic cliques of this period, these artists share experiences of The German Women’s Suffragist Movement, elements of queer sexuality, and ghost-like qualities in their work, thus leaving room for an anachronistic read into who they are. Frida & Anita, Höch, and Die Neue Frau track the rise and fall of the Weimar Era in Berlin.

Surface Tension uses anachronistic strategies ensconced in a specific historical moment as a reflection of queer Berlin today. This series queers and experiments with the classical film genres of silent film, documentary, and home movies, to explore the subjectivity of historical documents, and encourages personalized perspective and interpretation of what possibly occurred. Pushing the boundaries of the way in which we read, interpret and observe history, is central to shifting identifications such as queerness. Questions regarding nostalgia, desire, and ephemerality are approached within this experimental framework as well.

While the Surface Tension Series “ takes place” during the 1920’s, the figures of Berber, Höch, and Riefenstahl are vessels portrayed by non- actors, who are all connected through the same queer landscape in current day Berlin. These historical figures, played by intimate friends of the director (who influence these representations) mark a queer consciousness in a living way.

This series challenges the way dominant popular culture characterizes and labels socio- political figures and movements, with whom we identify with, and suggests that we can find a side of our own unique selves in the people we look back to through history.

“Surface Tension” presents history as a composition of diverse perspectives and interpretations, outside the factual. Accessibility to many different audiences is key to this project, whose production methodologies, and approach to subject matter, discuss the way in which community and relationships record history collectively. Although, clearly coming from a queer perspective, “Surface Tension,” is not just about/ for queer people because it challenges dominant cultural norms of historiography, and encourages the cultivation of an autonomous and personal historical narrative.

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