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Janis Joplin and James Dean, but also Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz", a talk-show host who resembles a priest, or a war veteran haunted by his memories – these are the more or less heroic protagonists in the cosmos of German-Norwegian artist Bjørn Melhus (*1966), all played by himself. Melhus makes films of a slightly different art: they could easily be called extraterrestrial, but they always remain close to our pop-cultural reality. Ironically, he uses plots and action schemataund in the mass media and investigates their relationship to the viewer. He always stages moving images to self-arranged composite soundtracks of found footage material from movies and television. While in "Again&Again" (1998) he offers clones for purchase and caricatures telesales, and in the wonderfully strange "Auto Center Drive" (2003) he lets icons of American pop meet, in "Deadly Storms" (2008) he stages a news show in which the viewer is informed about an alleged danger until he finally understands that this is primarily a media strategy to keep him sitting in front of the screen. In the past few years, Melhus has dealt especially with war and its consequences, for example in "I'm Not the Enemy", which received the German Short Film Award in 2011.
Originally from the experimental film world, his works are shown at film and media festivals such as the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen or the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück as well as in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Serpentine Gallery in London or the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Melhus has won numerous awards, including the Marler Video Art Award (1998), the HAP-Grieshaber Prize from VG Bild Kunst (2003) and the Prize of the Cinema Jury of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2009).
The questionable perfection of beauty, the hard physical drills, the artificial female role templates and our cultural subconscious shaped by the cinematic images of Hollywood all belong to the leitmotifs of artist Salla Tykkä, who lives and works in Helsinki. Since 1998, Tykkä (b. 1973) has been shooting short films that are presented in exhibition spaces and film festivals and that laconically abstain from any commentary. At times as staged dramas, at other times as documentary observations, these films analyze our collective memory through the cliché situations imparted on us by mass media. Films like 'Lasso', 'Cave' or 'Zoo' (2006) depict leading female characters in fictitious key scenes derived from horror to Hitchcock film classics. Recent works, such as 'Air Above the Ground' (2010) about the dressage cruelty inflicted on the Lipizzaner horses, or 'Victoria' (2008), a time lapse of an only nocturnally and very briefly blooming water lily, use the supposedly objective documentary vantage point in order to question the idea of beauty. Tykkä most recent work, 'Giant' (2013), a cinematic visit to the training location of Romanian gymnasts who were once legendary for their grace, was honored at this year's International Film Festival Rotterdam with the Tiger Award for the best short film.
Blurring the boundaries between the documentary and the staged, the question of the veracity of stories' images and narratives, as well as the cinema as a real and conceptual place, are common themes in Clemens von Wedemeyer's work. The early stages of his work are often characterized by an exploration of concrete locations and inspiration from film history. In 'Silberhöhe' (2003-2004), for example, this leads to the camera's observation and migration through the empty housing Halle-Silberhöhe that was inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni's film 'L'eclisse' (1962) and in which the houses resemble a film set. Other works like 'Against Death' (2009), which focuses on an immortality ritual, or ‘Muster/Rushes' (2012), which, on three different temporal levels, deals with the history of the Breitenau monastery near Kassel, are complex and circular narratives without a beginning or end. Born in 1974, von Wedemeyer has received numerous awards and is represented with his works at both film festivals and exhibitions. In 2006, his film 'Rien du tout' (made in collaboration with Maja Schweizer) was honored at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen as the best German film. That same year, von Wedemeyer was awarded the Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Scholarship. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, MoMA PS1 in New York (both 2006), the Barbican Art Centre in London (2009) and the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2011). In 2012, he participated in (d)OCUMENTA 13.