Schauhaus (2023), 30:00min, Super8 & Full HD, in collaboration with Anna Lauenstein.
From a distance, the glass greenhouse looks like a spaceship which could have landed decades or only minutes ago. In any case, the Botanical Garden in Berlin seems to belong to another era. A group of young people are exploring, feeling plants, trees, and the building according to their very own criteria. Are they aliens? Are they imitating the expeditions of German explorers from the colonial period?
The commentary muses on the history of the place: at the end of the 19th century, work began on the construction of the new greenhouses of the Botanical Garden in Dahlem to bring the world to one garden. This idea formulated a claim of omnipotence, too. In the rambling park, the camera comes across the naturalistic statue of a semi-nude man sowing seeds. It was created by the sculptor Hermann Joachim Pagels, who was very successful under the Nazis. The deeper the film penetrates the thickets of this garden, the more traces of imperial and colonialist thinking come to light. But the Botanical Garden is also a utopian place. What if this greenhouse-spaceship were to take off to distant spheres again? Could the plants guarantee the survival of our species on other planets?
But perhaps they have a different plan, a life of their own?
(Text: Anke Leweke)
Directing, Script, Editing: Anna Lauenstein & Max Hilsamer | Kamera: Max Hilsamer | Ton: Adrian Gutzelnig | Musik: Sebastian Eppner Performance: Nadja Rothenburger, Minh Duc Pham, Johanna Ackva, emeka ene, Cary Shiu
"Schauhaus" premiered in the 2023 Competition of DOK Leipzig Film Festival.
Hotel Xenia (2019), 66:00min, Full HD, in collaboration with Anna Lauenstein.
Hotel Xenia explores complex histories of entanglement and portrays two historically and symbolically charged places in their current political situation, locations that were originally part of a tourist infrastructure and have been significantly changed by the financial crisis and recent migration movements.
At Thermopylae, a hot spring in central Greece, truckers, hippies and tourists bathe and meet a community of people from Syria and Iraq who have recently settled in an empty hotel. A monument has been erected next to the spring to commemorate the ancient Persian wars that took place here 2500 years ago. This battle of the 300 was not only the inspiration for two Hollywood films, but is also instrumentalized by numerous political actors. And while the guests of the old Hotel Xenia are slowly becoming hosts, the governing mayor of the district town of Lamia would prefer to expel them all - he has better plans for the site: the spring is to be privatized.
In the port of Piraeus one notices different mobilities: Of goods, tourists and migrants. At the edge of the harbour basin stands a copy of a plundered lion statue, which refers to the fact that cultural assets are also migrating and which recalls a time when the Parthenon of Athens was still a mosque. On the island of Lesbos there is a Statue of Liberty. It looks across to the Turkish mainland and stands there as if to emphasise once again that the strait at her feet is a border. The discussions on the spot shed light on how the history of this monument is also a history of relations with the Anatolian mainland, and how the hard demarcation that now separates Europe from the rest of the world came about. The statue stands in painful contrast to the fact that on the island up to 10000 people are concentrated in so-called "hotspots" in order to prevent them from continuing their journey to the European heartland. Nevertheless, the young people from the refugee camps have appropriated the place - the statue has become a meeting place and a new place of longing.
Wir Sind Zart Zu Uns Selbst (2016), 15:30min, Full HD, in collaboration with Juli Katz.
People in a dark room talking about exhaustion, about not having enough time, about having to function. They all have a bit of a hard time and still manage to keep going. They meet in team-building workshops and super vision groups. "We are tender to ourselves" evolves from the writings, gestures and discourses of the self-help and team-building literature of our time. A chorus of self-optimisers practicing its song. The video attempts to portray this dynamic in a single setting: The camera constantly turns on its own axis, and the performers have to subordinate themselves to this movement. Does it represent the group's view of the individual or is it a kind of internalised Foucaultian observer?