Magazine article Artforum International
Clemens Von Wedemeyer: Kolnischer Kunstverein
Michelangelo Antonioni, as film critic Urs Richter once wrote, is the photographer among European directors: Image composition dominates montage and the moment wins out over chronology. Clemens von Wedemeyer's 35-mm film (transferred to video) Silberhohe (Silver Heights), 2003, cites the closing scene of Antonioni's L'Eclisse (1962): Moments of waiting in which the passing of time becomes palpable. The Antonioni citation sets the tone for a cinematic sketch of a concrete-slab housing development in eastern Germany, built between 1979 and 1989, that has lost more than half of its inhabitants since the fall of the Berlin wall--a shrinking city. The camera shows streets emptied of people, focusing on details in brief, almost still shots: a crane amidst debris, crumbling plaster, a bush in the foreground of a wintry cityscape, the interior of a model home in a neighboring single-family development. Von Wedemeyer's camera is fascinated with the surfaces and fragments of a modern social utopia that was built and then discarded, one whose ruined leftovers are not exactly the triumphal confirmation of a now universally installed capitalism. Rather, they mark an empty space.
Almost concurrently with his exhibition at P.S. I in New York, von Wedemeyer presented at the Kolnischer Kunstverein--where he has already been represented in two group exhibitions--a selection of works that approach the relationship between art and cinema from different perspectives. Occupation, 2002, for instance, is a 35-mm film (transferred to video) about the construction of cinema as spectacle. It uses and simultaneously deconstructs filmic strategies such as fade-to-black, dramatic lighting contrasts, and a montage technique that recalls Sergei Eisenstein. Yet all this, as Beatrice von Bismarck writes in the exhibition catalogue, aims "dramaturgically at the visualization of the loss of rules, when everything, at a sign, scatters apart, in full flight, and the dense occupation of the territory, its takeover, ends in the explosive freeing of the surface. …