Critics’ Picks

Maya Schweizer, Regarde par ici ... And there the Puschkinallee, 2018, video, color, sound, 25 minutes.

Maya Schweizer, Regarde par ici ... And there the Puschkinallee, 2018, video, color, sound, 25 minutes.


Maya Schweizer

Museum Villa Stuck
Prinzregentenstrasse 60
October 22, 2020–March 14, 2021

By training her camera on everyday places, film essayist Maya Schweizer conjures the lingering memory of atrocities, reworking B-roll into a kind of metaphor for the diffuse yet ubiquitous nature of unofficial historical narratives. Screening eleven videos made across thirteen years, this exhibition, simply but aptly titled “Voices,” shows how the artist has persistently prevented the past from coming to rest. In Passing Down, Frame One, 2007, the earliest short on display, an audio track featuring the patchy recollections of Schweizer’s Jewish grandmother—who narrowly escaped deportation from Lyon in 1944—plays out alongside present-day shots of that city along with those of Aix-en-Provence and Berlin. Image and text do not always neatly correlate: As we scrutinize a residential parking lot, a caption informs us that the artist’s great-grandfather fled from Marseille to a villa in Lyon that once sheltered famous Resistance leader Lucie Aubrac before she had to flee from the Vichy regime. The grandmother tells how Aubrac returned after the war, searching in vain for the correspondence that she left there.

Schweizer often intertwines autobiographical perspectives with official, literary, and mass media narratives, sometimes abolishing the separation of inside and outside—symbolically, concretely, or both at the same time, as in Regarde par ici, ... And there the Puschkinallee, 2018. In this twenty-five-minute video, Schweizer first focuses on a listed GDR-era watchtower in a park on the former border strip between Berlin-Kreuzberg and Treptow, setting up her near-sociological lens behind the tower’s embrasures (once outfitted with iron shutters) to pan across undiscerning park-goers. Schweizer’s work reveals how when such structures are monumentalized, their relationship to past and place is alternately distanced, sealed, and even worshipful—which is to say, forgotten.