THE AIRSTRIP – DECAMPMENT OF MODERNISM, PART III (The Airstrip – Aufbruch der Moderne, Teil III) Heinz Emigholz, D 2013, 108 min
Photography and beyond – Part 21 / Decampment of Modernism – Part III. After PARABETON and PERRET IN FRANCE AND ALGERIA the third part of the series.
My new beginning came in 1993 with the project Photography and beyond, which Wilfried Reichart, a producer at WDR TV-station and a fan of The Holy Bunch, let me make. Reinhard Wulf, also from WDR, and various film subsidies sustained this collaboration with Filmgalerie 451 and Amour Fou Vienna. But at the time I had no idea how long this project would keep me busy. Here is an excerpt from the project description of the time: ‘Photography and beyond is a film project about writing, drawing, sculpture and architecture. The film’s theme is the active work of design and projection – imaginings that have become real. A process of reversed seeing, so to speak, is analysed: seeing as expression, rather than impression. The eye as interface between brain and external world, the gaze as a composing force that turns the inside out and presents it in reality in a mirror image.’
Photography and beyond was initially supposed to be a film essay of about 100 minutes in which I wanted to explore the facts of a designed world and its appearance on cinematographically designed depiction surfaces. Architectures, sculptures, photographs, drawings, paintings, writings, cinematography, collages, prints and urban landscapes were on the list of motifs. The story would not be told by means of language or dialogue, but through the depicted things and situations themselves. Not exactly a project for the BBC or the History Channel and their soft-boiled kind of documenting; I began calling the resulting films ‘hard-core documentations’. Because it didn’t stop with a single film. After a footage-shooting phase that lasted years and then an editing block – and an interlude to establish an Institute for Time-Based Media at the University of the Arts in Berlin – finally in 2001, initially three short films were released under the overarching title Photography and beyond. Constant cell division on the list of motifs and the new collaboration with Artimage in Graz then led to many more short and long films. Now, twenty years after the beginning of this enterprise, ten long and seventy-four short films are on the project’s back catalogue list. These films are characterised and were made possible by rigorously eliminating any inflated production apparatus and concentrating all means on the desired and ultimately crucial visual and acoustic cinema experience. A list of the films with accompanying descriptions and commentaries can be viewed at www.pym.de and www.filmgalerie451.de. I presented the further epistemological implications of the series in the footnotes to the text The End in Disko 22 at www.a42.org.
Most of the films in the series so far have been concerned with architecture, giving the project a certain unintended imbalance. In point of fact, the architectonic studies and field researches are finished with the new films Two Museums and The Airstrip – apart from three long-term projects that will keep me busy for some years more. At first, catalogues of the works of my favourite Classical Modernist construction engineers and architects (Sullivan, Maillart, Loos, Schindler, Perret, Goff, Nervi) stood in the foreground of my interest; but triumphing in the end was the cinematographer’s interest in anonymous architectonic situations that can no longer be attributed to a known designer.
It would be the fulfilment of a utopia if I were given an annual budget with no earmarks; I would return the favour with at least two architecture films shot around the world: a comedy and a tragedy. I am sure that everything people can narrate can be found in architecture: their love for one another, their fears of one another, their desire for protection and outfitting, their embedding in the circle of nature. Not least, an uproarious comic aspect inherent in architecture is underestimated all over the world. Unfortunately this utopia cannot be fulfilled, because the advance financing of films feels committed to the word and not the image.
"The Airstrip" is Emigholz's latest investigation of modernity via architectural form - and the third chapter in his "Decampment of Modernism" series. The film presents a global panorama of structures including stadia, shopping centers, airports and prisons, through which to quietly mediate upon war, capitalism, ideology and national identity. With music from Kreidler. (Barbican London, 2014)
In his new film Heinz Emigholz traces links that reach from Modernism’s concrete cult to the ‘concrete culture of war’, as the film-maker says. The last outstanding image analyst of German Cinema was never more sparkling. (epd film, 2014)
Wakeling gives us some indication how to interpret his findings in an early reference to 'mosaic theory,' defined thusly: 'disparate items of information which individually have no utility to their possessor can take on added significance when combined with other items of information.' A more compelling expression of this idea—likewise concerned with the presence of the past within the present—can be found in The Airstrip—Decampment of Modernism, Part III by Heinz Emigholz, who has been making films since the early 1970s. (In the company of the artists presenting new work here, this makes him downright venerable—Abrantes was born in 1984, and Wakeling is only a few years older.) Beginning with sculptor Reinhold Begas’s 1901 Prometheus, read as an allegory for the self-image of Germany under Wilhelm II, then shuttling to Rome’s Pantheon, Emigholz traces the interleaving histories of modernist architecture and twentieth-century political catastrophe, photographing buildings by Viktor Sulčič, Eladio Dieste, and Luis Barragán, while pursuing a wending route from Normandy to South America to Saipan, where Fat Man and Little Boy were loaded for delivery to the Empire of Japan. All the while, Emigholz elaborates and frustrates the elusive connection between what one US veteran, quoted in on-screen text, describes as “that indescribable cleanliness which one feels with bombs away” and a new cleanliness of design. (Artforum, 2014)
'Saipan, Tinian landmarks star in German film out in spring' A German filmmaker travelled to the Northern Marianas last year to shoot scenes for a movie that is scheduled for release this spring. Heinz Emigholz, who founded the production company Pym Films in 1978, was on Saipan and Tinian from April 5 to 12, 2012, with colleague and fellow artist Ueli Etter to work on the film The Airstrip-Decampment of Modernism. The two-hour film is the last installment of a series of films about modern architecture that have been shown worldwide in cinemas, film festivals and were especially acclaimed in the United States, said Emigholz. “It will contain several scenes with concrete ruins of Japanese military buildings on Saipan, and “Northfield” on Tinian with its concrete loading pits for the atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man,” he told Saipan Tribune, adding that the principal photography for the movie was done all over the world in 62 days. Emigholz, 64, said that his reasons to come to Saipan were manifold. He has studied and written about the Pacific War for decades, and loved the film Anatahan by Josef von Sternberg since childhood. Rat Beach, a story about 1945 Saipan written by William Styron, also piqued the interest of the professor for Experimental film at Berlin University of the Arts. What finally convinced him, however, was the book The Roman Pantheon: The Triumph of Concrete by the late American war veteran David Moore and published by the University of Guam, which he came across when he did a film about the historical and one of the best-preserved structures. “He was a civil engineer and his book is the best about the Pantheon I ever read,” Emigholz told Saipan Tribune, saying that Moore's book also led to his discovery of Moore's website, www.battleofsasipan.com. “I definitely will come back to Saipan and stay some time to work on a book.” When Emigholz returned to Germany following his brief stay in the Northern Marianas, members of the German group Kreidler approached him and asked him to do a video for a track in their new album Den released last Oct. 5. Founded in 1994, Kreidler combines electronic and analog instruments and is categorized by critics, depending on the publication, as electronic music, pop, avant-garde, post rock, ambient, neoclassical, krautrock or electronica. “I listened to their material, liked it and decided to do clips for all seven tracks,” said Emigholz, adding that he used materials shot in the CNMI for the videos of two tracks. He used the shot during the ride to the loading pits on Tinian for the video for Rote Wüste (Red Desert), which was released a month before Kreidler's album came out “and became very popular.” Meanwhile, Emigholz used shots of La Fiesta, the site of the Japanese Banzai attack on July 5, 1945, for the video of Sun. The Rote Wüste video, which has 5,804 views as of press time, can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkuIMV-tUGc while the Sun video, which has 2,128 views, can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Efw_Zpg71E. (Saipan Tribune, 9.1.2013, Clarissa V. David)
Awards and Festivals
- Berlinale / Forum, Premiere am 8. Februar 2014
- Kinostart-Premiere am 17. September 2014 in der Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin mit KREIDLER-Konzert.
- Copenhagen Architecture Festival 2014
- Festivales de Buenos Aires 2014
- IndieLisboa International Film Festival 2014
- Jeonju International Film Festival 2014
- Subversive Film Festival Croatia 2014
- Seattle International Film Festival 2014
- Jerusalem International Film Festival 2014
- Milano Design Film Festival 2014
- Architecture on Film & City Visions at the Barbican London 2014
- VIENNALE Vienna, Austria 2014
- Seville Film Festival 2014
- CGAI-Filmoteca de Galicia, the film archive of Galicia, FIAF Associate 2014
- CulturArts - Generalitat Valenciana (Valencia Film Archive) 2014
- Filmoteca de Andalucía 2014/2015
- Migrating Forms Film Festival at BAMcinématek New York 2014
- Centro Cultural / Goethe-Institut São Paulo 2015
- Instituto Moreira Salle / Goethe-Institut Rio de Janeiro 2015
- Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015