Critics’ Picks

Still from Der Firmling, 2004.


Nina Könnemann

Galerie Karin Guenther
Admiralitätstraße 71
February 7–March 31

Video artist Nina Könnemann depicts interim worlds, zones through which people reenter the everyday after the kind of collective transcendent experiences that might be had at, say, a rock concert. Taking a sober and even disaffected tone, the films seem fictional but are actually documentary, and cumulatively they offer a disquieting portrait. At Galerie Karin Guenther, Könnemann shows two new works: Castles Made of Sand, 2004, and Der Firmling (The Candidate for Confirmation), 2004. In the first, one finds oneself swept along as the camera zigzags along a shabby pedestrian underpass through which a group of people appear to be leaving some sort of festival. The sound track picks up fragments of their conversations, but overlaid snatches of music make it difficult to tell who is speaking; everyone seems atomized, isolated from one another. In Der Firmling the camera follows a father and son as they cut through the crowd on the outskirts of Berlin's annual “Love Parade.” The film focuses on an incidental detail: The son has curled his finger around a clothes hanger attached to the strap of his tipsy father's shoulder bag. It is unclear whether the older man is dragging the younger with him or whether the son has devised this tactic in order to keep track of his errant dad—an ambivalence that also seems to pertain to the camera’s dogged pursuit of the pair.

Translated from German by Emily Speers Mears.