Elke Marhöfer

11 December, 2014 - 19:00
Cinematek, Brussels
talk+screening
Mattered Images: The films of Elke Marhöfer

One film shot in South Korea, another in Cuba. They are not anthropological films, nor narrative documentaries or film essays, but they are certainly concerned with foreignness and difference. prendas - ngangas - enquisos – machines was mostly filmed in the hilly communes of Yateras, searching for long disappeared clandestine settlements, so-called palenque, where African slaves, Taínos and Chinese forced laborers freed themselves from colonial violence. No, I am not a toad, I am a turtle! is the result of a research on the Korean song form of ‘pansori’ music and documents a journey through hinterland villages and wooded mountains, along shipping lanes and trade routes between China and South Korea. Both films ask whether it is possible to communicate something of the soul of a place, steeped in histories of violence and dissidence, without relying on didacticism or storytelling, without taking recourse on hierarchical distinctions between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the macro and the micro, the animate and the inanimate. Is it possible to escape from the systems of signification that constitute foreignness, as well as the heritage left behind by colonial anthropology, without getting detached from the palpable realities of the world? What if there was a way to approach the foreign by relying on the affects of the world that pass through us, giving way to sentimental cartographies, mapping out nameless intensities and collective sensitivities, leaving space for the non-human, including vegetables and animals that had to colonize the new land together with their humans? In these film, these places do not appear as an “outside” to our inside, but as a sensible texture without anchor or vanishing point, where humans are a part of the composition rather than the principal element.

 

In collaboration with Cinematek & erg (école supérieure des arts).

Ani, Nan DooKKeobiga Anigo Geobuk-ee Yo!

Elke Marhöfer
,
DE
,
2012
,
16mm
,
colour
,
51'

Sharing a name, a publication and a film Ani, Nan DooKKeobiga Anigo Geobuk-ee Yo! (No, I am not a toad, I am a turtle!) go back to a research project on the Korean song form of pansori.

The film, shot in 16mm, journeys through the streets of small towns and wooded mountains, along minor trade and busy shipping channels among China and South Korea. As it looks at the divide between the traditional and the modern, it is an exploration into the boundaries between humans, animals and things.

"The film No, I am not a toad, I am a turtle! is neither ethnographic, nor a narrative documentary, nor an essay film. However, it certainly is a film about foreignness, about ontological difference, and narrative power operating in a different syntax. It’s a film shot in Korea, which occupies a specific place in the 'Far East', trapped, as it were, between the Empires of China and Japan. The film comprises a few main topics: A pansori performance - a genre of music and oral narration -, a tiger, an aswang (ghost) story, an ironmonger and the landscape. There is no syntax imposed on the foreignness, no ontological laughter on behalf of the filmmaker but in each of the scenes there is an immanence, especially insofar as they are not subjected to narrative translation or commentary, thereby retaining their sense of mystery. Here 'Korea' is not an outside, but rather a 'trope' - a place, which is simultaneously real and imaginary. It is turned into a cinematic trope, without an anchor or vanishing point. It is a trope born out of what figures most prominently in the scenes: tales of transformation and metamorphosis. However, this is not a metamorphosis in the context of the fantastical or monstrous, or a transformative becoming for its own sake. The point is that each becoming has its own outside - that is, an external logic, a force that doesn’t derive from what is seen, said or else identified, but from the door that is left open, through which different temporalities and beings can enter the stage of actualization. [...] Perhaps what we are accustomed to call 'ghosts' or 'spirits' is in fact a faculty of images; images that inhabit the world and to some of which we are hosts. They transform us as much as we transform them. I think Elke Marhöfer's film is giving a different answer to [Chris] Marker's question regarding the communion with 'things' by means of cinematic images. Images though are not necessarily identical with what can be seen. On the contrary, the image is a semi-autonomous mimetic capacity, a power to lure and transform, a penetrative node, a being. In this sense images can never be entirely positivized and objectified."  (Anselm Franke)

prendas - ngangas - enquisos - machines

Elke Marhöfer
,
CU, DE
,
2014
,
16mm
,
30'

A film shot in Cuba. Not an anthropological film, nor a narrative documentary or a film essay, but certainly a film concerned with foreignness and difference. Mostly filmed in the hilly communes of Yateras, searching for long disappeared clandestine settlements, so-called palenque, where African slaves, Taínos and Chinese forced laborers freed themselves from colonial violence. The film narrates a sense of place, which feels real and imaginary at the same time. It asks whether it is possible to communicate something of the soul of a place, steeped in histories of revolution and dissidence, without relying on didacticism or storytelling, without taking recourse on hierarchical distinctions between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the macro and the micro, the animate and the inanimate.