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Loretta Fahrenholz

Loretta Fahrenholz is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Berlin and New York. Last fall, she had shows at sotoso.org in Brussels and at Reena Spaulings Fine Art in New York, where she presented Implosion, 2011. Other recent films include Haust, 2010, and Que Bárbara, 2011. She is currently shooting a new video-based work featuring the German actor and horror-movie director Ulli Lommel.

  1. PEDRO COSTA, NO QUARTO DA VANDA (IN VANDA’S ROOM, 2000)

    Against the ostentatious rawness of post–Dogme 95 neorealist European cinema (characterized by consumer-grade camcorders tottering through perfectly lit sets), Costa’s film mobilizes a completely different concept of cinematographic realism. Working daily for more than a year in the slums of Lisbon’s Fontainhas district, shooting nonactors exclusively, Costa constructed his narrative with the rigor of Straub-Huillet, telegraphing expression less through meticulous, nonidentificatory speech than through a highly stylized composition of texture, sound, light, and dialogue. No Quarto da Vanda is a grim, Victorian ghetto film about heroin and the painterly quality of DV images.

    Trailer for NO QUARTO DA VANDA(In Vanda's Room), 2000

    *Pedro Costa, _No Quarto da Vanda_ (In Vanda’s Room), 2000*, still from a color video, 170 minutes. Pedro Costa, No Quarto da Vanda (In Vanda’s Room), 2000, still from a color video, 170 minutes.
  2. CHRISTIAN KRACHT, 1979 (KIEPENHEUER & WITSCH, 2001)

    A key figure in the mid-’90s new wave of German pop literature, Kracht self-consciously abandoned the genre in writing 1979. The book makes me think of the refined stylistic hybridity that Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul effects in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010). Even though the two works drift in opposite directions— Weerasethakul’s journey is composed of a series of filmic transformations from the expanse of rural Thailand, ending in an urban Westernized space; Kracht’s wanders away from the latter into the total liquidation of the subject in the labor camps of Maoist China—both demonstrate a distinct form of genre reflexivity that doesn’t fall back on fashionable pseudo-Brechtian conventions.

  3. KENJI MIZOGUCHI, SISTERS OF THE GION (1936)

    If Stieg Larsson and David Fincher’s Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) appears as the embodiment of sexy, smooth feminism-on-demand for lefty intellectuals, Mizoguchi’s Omocha, the younger of two geisha sisters in this Japanese pre–World War II drama, is a much less service-oriented agent of antipatriarchal force. At the end of the film, Omocha launches into an intransigent speech that allies her with the disobliging heroines of Mädchen in Uniform (Leontine Sagan, 1931), Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1966), and Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967).

    *Kenji Mizoguchi, _Sisters of the Gion_, 1936*, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 69 minutes. Kenji Mizoguchi, Sisters of the Gion, 1936, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 69 minutes.
  4. AGNÈS VARDA, LIONS LOVE (1969)

    A Nouvelle Vague take on late-’60s America, Varda’s made-in-LA feature stars filmmaker Shirley Clarke (playing herself) opposite a hippieish ménage à trois of Warhol starlet Viva with James Rado and Gerome Ragni (the composers of Hair). For most of the film, the latter three are shown in their rented Hollywood bungalow reciting Pop aphorisms as they lounge around in a big bed in front of a TV. The double shootings of Andy Warhol and Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968 serve as a backdrop for this slack mix of French engagé anti-illusionism, Edenic acid fantasy, and examination of violence and media culture.

    Trailer for Lions Love, 1969

    *Agnès Varda, _Lions Love_, 1969*, still from a color film in 35 mm, 110 minutes. Agnès Varda, Lions Love, 1969, still from a color film in 35 mm, 110 minutes.
  5. LESLIE THORNTON, PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL: THE PROLOGUE, 1984

    One might wonder why, despite their use of the most sophisticated visual effects, recent sci-fi and fantasy movies are often so stupendously square in their vision of extraterrestrial and para- or abnormal activity. By contrast, watching Peggy and Fred—two kids completely immersed in the rapid, commodity-saturated mediascape of the mid-’80s—offers a highly disturbing, twisted vantage onto the apocalyptic disaster of contemporary life.

    *Leslie Thornton, _Peggy and Fred in Hell: The Prologue_, 1984*, stills from a black-and-white video, 20 minutes. Leslie Thornton, Peggy and Fred in Hell: The Prologue, 1984, stills from a black-and-white video, 20 minutes.
  6. WILLIAM (NEW YORK)

    Located in a garbage can on the fifth floor of 179 Canal Street, this promising contemporary art venue opened in January with a show highlighting the graphic production of Jack Smith. According to its website, the gallery is focused on emerging and midcareer artists and features a program generated by way of social networking, personal recommendation, intergenerational collaboration, and garbage.

    *View of “Jack Smith,” 2012*, William, New York. View of “Jack Smith,” 2012, William, New York.
  7. JOSH HARRIS, QUIET: WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, 1999

    On the cusp of Y2K, 150 participants lived together under twenty-four-hour video monitoring in a three-level loft in lower Manhattan, staging a deranged, dystopian social sculpture. In exchange for free lodging and meals, user-residents agreed to make every minute of their lives visible (via closed-circuit broadcast) to all others in the compound. This hydra of self-display, voyeurism, social control, and surveillance—masterminded by ’90s dot-com developer Josh Harris—anticipated the Internet’s coming deluge of realness, liveness, and simultaneity. Just as the new millennium began, Harris’s project imploded in all-out pandemonium. Twelve years later, clips of undressed, drugged-up subjects in baby pools humming off-key tunes haunt the Web like howling ghosts of the prophecy QUIET performed.

    *View from within Josh Harris’s _QUIET: We Live in Public_, New York, December 31, 1999*. Photo: Donna Ferrato. View from within Josh Harris’s QUIET: We Live in Public, New York, December 31, 1999. Photo: Donna Ferrato.
  8. GEORG BÜCHNER, DANTONS TOD (DANTON’S DEATH, 1835)

    Büchner’s first play, drafted in five weeks while the German writer was fleeing arrest, quotes numerous historical sources to provide a detailed analysis of the unsettled dynamics of the French Revolution. In light of the protests currently taking place worldwide, this complex drama renders a prismatic look at the uncertain alliances and rivalries catalyzed by a society in the midst of radical transformation.

  9. FREDERICK WISEMAN, NEAR DEATH (1989)

    Running almost six hours, this documentary follows doctors, nurses, and support staff as they carry out their daily work in the intensive care unit of Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. In candidly showing the medical, ethical, legal, psychological, and linguistic dimensions that accompany the process of dying in America, Wiseman brings institutional critique to the hospice system, exposing the excruciating bureaucracy of death that resides between the tubes and lung ventilators of end-of-life treatment.

    Frederick Wiseman at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

    *Frederick Wiseman, _Near Death_, 1989*, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 358 minutes. Frederick Wiseman, Near Death, 1989, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 358 minutes.
  10. EX.ORIENTE.LUX (BERLIN)

    In the later years of the GDR, an underground film scene emerged independent of the official media and the government-controlled amateur film circuit. Operating unsanctioned, it became the subject of an extensive secret-police operation. Today, only one archive of this material exists—ex.oriente.lux, run by Claus Löser, who was involved with the scene in the 1980s. The collection brings together the multiform output of this loosely connected movement, counting in its holdings some 150 films made between 1976 and 1989 by thirty artists. Among these are Ramona Koeppel-Welsh’s Konrad! Sprach die Frau Mama . . . ! , 1989, Gino Hahnemann’s September, September, 1986, and Thomas Werner’s Ina, 1985.