On June 24 artist Hanna Hildebrand will present her piece “Helianthus Coco” as our Double Feature. Her favorite film will be shown as the second part of the evening’s screening: Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the hole”.
The everyday would appear to have two levels of meaning, or so one might think after closer investigation: the trivial and the transcendental, i.e., what goes beyond the obvious. A urinal can thus be used in line with its intended meaning, or wrench it from its semantic context and exhibit it in an exhibition.
In this regard, a question can be construed as a desire for information, and on the other as a kind of statement. In Italian-born artist Hanna Hildebrand's piece "135WHY" (2014) one first of all hears exactly what the title promises: An artificially sounding female voice asks countless Why questions. Only a very few original voices, presumably from passers-by, have been edited in, and likewise have to do with questions. Whether all questions can be attributed to precisely these original voices or not is something that remains completely open. The film arose in 2014 while Hildebrand was staying at Geumcheon Art Residency in Seoul and thus at the pictorial level what we see are everyday situations from the South Korean capital: people in the subway, street shots, video games, meals, drawings and much else besides, while actor Young Q Sohn interacts directly with the camera in repeated sequences in a subway station. The montage runs a good 22 minutes and a melancholic, meditative mood grows, in which possible everyday settings seem to collide with questions as to what is specifically individual about them.
In "Caminando, mientras platicábamos, las moscas y las abejas volaban a nuestro alrededor" (2012) we see footage from a 330km-long hike through Mexico meld in a kind of silent documentation, whereby the soundtrack is only background hiss. The film was shown as part of an exhibition in which Hildebrand presented photos and found objects from the trip: as a permanent loop, exploring the reciprocal influence of humans and nature. Images from the piece are also to be encountered in "If all that remained of our century was a garbage bag" (2013), in which Hildebrand takes the now closed, huge Mexico City garbage dump as the basis for a kind of fictionalized documentary in which she tells a story about the "King of Trash" and his wealth, derived from the garbage, as the voiceover for shots of the dump and the now government-run recycling program. Hildebrand's works are united by her insight that images and cropped sections from specific lifeworld never reach us innocently, but are often already associated with particular ideas such that the specific and unique reveals itself in the ostensibly trivial.
Chuck Tatum directs a human tragedy
Billy Wilder's movie "Ace in the Hole", made in 1951, can to a certain extent be seen as a filmic analogy to the above. The once famous reporter Chuck Tatum (played by Kirk Douglas) has been banned from the major US editorial desks because of his personal capers, and is stranded with a flat tire in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, he boastfully offers his services to the editor in chief of the local paper, the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin an, hoping that by landing a real scoop he will manage to getg a foothold back in the door at the big newspapers. After a longer period without any really interesting stories, Tatum senses that the accident which befalls Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) in a cave in an old Native American territory could form the sensational piece that will launch his comeback. Tatum considers Minosa merely some banal guy whose destiny can be exploited for the media and thus, from the word go, directs the coverage of the entire tragedy, from the appearance on the scene of the man's wife (Jan Sterling) through to the attempts to rescue the trapped victim.
Billy Wilder presents Tatum as a scrupulous careerist who subjugates his surroundings to his own reading of them and to exploiting them to his own ends. Wilder stages the sensation-craving mob as even more terrible, as it gathers to watch the rescue efforts to save Leo Minosa, not because they are interested in him as a person, but purely in the sensation. Since Tatum can at least give rational reasons for his despicable behavior, he can still reflect on what he is doing, which is an option no longer open to the sensation-hungry mob. It would thus appear possible for a seemingly trivial event and the image of it that circulate around the globe day in day out to still have something special, i.e., individual about it. In the salvation of the specific, wrested here from the jaws of banality, and thus from indifference, we come back to Hildebrand's oeuvre, whose works are suffused with a similar insight.