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Freies Kino: Constanze Ruhm

FromConstanze Ruhm

WithGemma Vannuzzi, Mona Abdel Baky, Kheda Durtaeva, Ljubica Jaksic, u.a.



2 min. 35 sec., b/w, no sound,
Constanze Ruhm 2023

"I thought art was for women, I identified art as a female activity." Suzanne Santoro

The work series Black Mirrors (1975-1981) by the American-Italian artist Suzanne Santoro and the artist's book Un album di violenza by the American Stephanie Oursler inspired the work Dark Mirrors Turning Brighter, but also the use of a mirror as an optical device in the filming of A Shard is a Fragment of a Life. Dark Mirrors Turning Brighter interweaves Santoro's "dark mirrors" with Oursler's "album of violence" in a computer animation that shows the shattering mirror from A Shard Is a Fragment of a Life.

Cinema version of a 2 channel video installation, 20 min. 24 sec., color, sound,
Constanze Ruhm 2023

In order to link the past with the present and thus to visualize it; in order to transfer the history and testimonies of female prisoners - of revolutionaries, thieves, actresses, painters and feminist writers - from the 17th century to the present, to Rome in the Casa Internazionale delle Donne, which was built in the same century as the women's prison Buon Pastore, and also to raise the theme of the fragment to a conceptual-aesthetic level, an optical device was constructed. By means of this, reality and its image, reflected in the shard of a broken mirror, are recorded and fused together within a single image frame. Thus, the ghosts of the imaginary prisoners appear as reflections, as broken bodies, as shadows with blurred edges, which wander between reality and fiction, between two ontologically different images.

The cinematic image shatters into shards. The continuity of the space disappears in it: a shard cinema, but not a pile of shards, because the others, the men, have left that behind, and the ghosts have already reassembled this pile into a puzzle of their own, albeit incomplete, image. The shards become their compass, their orientation system, along whose splintering, sharp-edged, glittering edges the ghosts navigate between present, past and future. Every now and then they get lost and end up in the wrong century. However, the mirror shards can also become weapons and signal bodies, which they use to send blinding messages to the outside world from the roof of the prison in sunlight.

Constanze Ruhm 2020, 72 min., A / D / F

Gli appunti di Anna Azzori / Uno specchio che viaggia nel tempo refers to the film ANNA by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli (1972-75), which documents a few months in the life of a young homeless girl of the same name who is expecting a child and meets the directors in the spring of 1972 in Piazza Navona in Rome. Grifi and Sarchielli offer her help; in return, they make Anna the main character of a film project that oscillates between documentary and (re)staging, between empathy, distanced observation and exploitation. In Grifi and Sarchielli's film, the girl Anna becomes the actress of her own life. Gli appunti di Anna Azzori... uses material from Alberto Grifi's archive that was not included in the film ANNA and is dedicated to his heroine.

It tells the story of a film character caught between reality and fiction, who travels through time and also through several films before finally "changing the setting". This narrative is based on the fictional notes of the girl Anna, and is both an imaginary portrait and a feminist response to Grifi and Sarchielli's work. Gli appunti di Anna Azzori... itself becomes a "mirror that travels through time": a character named Anna, Daphne or Gemma wanders through her own (film) history; she crosses rooms, images and fragments of other films; she wanders through cities, archives and also through the virtual world of a contemporary computer game. She was a human, then a tree, then a human again; she was Ovid's river nymph Daphne on the run from Apollo, later became Anna; and at some point transformed herself into a young actress called Gemma, who is cast for the role of Grifi's Anna. In search of this casting, she crosses into an enchanted forest where she meets some young women (once virtual heroines of a long-forgotten game) who now live there as a feminist collective; she ends up in 1970s Rome, in the middle of feminist protest marches, and finally lands in an abandoned outdoor movie theater where the casting she was looking for has already taken place.

The past (of the archive) connects with a possible future: with the utopia of a feminist politics that designs other models of life. An image of this future also appears in the fleeting encounter with some young women who, in the context of another casting, light up for a brief moment in the present as Annas' revenants, but also as her companions in the fragments of this broken film mirror. (C.R.)

Concept, texts and direction - Constanze Ruhm

Performers - Gemma Vannuzzi | Mona Abdel Baky | Kheda Durtaeva | Ljubica Jaksic | Hannah Morscher | Cordula Rieger | Sidi Robol | Kadisa Seitinger | Alex Smith | Alisha Svestka | Livia Szankowsky | Law Wallner | Lia Wilfing | Stefano Mancini | Elisabeth Hrusa

Voice Overs - Judith van der Werff | Gemma Vannuzi | Constanze Ruhm