Directed by Klaus vom Bruch
Introduced by Therese Grisham
Presented by White Light Cinema


January 30th, 2011

Das Schleyerband (1977-78, 112 mins., video, Germany), by Klaus vom Bruch.

“Das Schleyerband (The Schleyer Tape) is a compilation of television and news footage comprising two hours of media accounts regarding the infamous Baader-Meinhof gang. Klaus vom Bruch’s material begins with the September 1977 kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the dramatic news reportage from the scene of the car accident in Cologne where Schleyer was abducted. Vom Bruch then proceeds to chronologically relay footage from official press conferences, talkshow speculation, public interviews and the news, giving a broad and detailed account of the events leading up to the final downfall of the Red Army Faction and group suicide of Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and other RAF leaders. Bruch contrasts this with short episodes from other aspects of popular culture: a fashion commercial advertising lipstick, images of a space shuttle launch, disco shows and John Lennon’s song ‘Working Class Hero.'” (Klaus vom Bruch)

“All representations of the RAF are the RAF. They made and starred in what Timothy Leary called a ‘reality movie.'” (Matthew Todd Grant, Critical Intellectuals and the New Media)

On Klaus vom Bruch:
“Klaus vom Bruch works in video and multi-media installation. His video works of the 1980s engage in a provocative analysis of identity in relation to Western cultural mythology and history. This often ironic discourse is presented as a direct confrontation between the self and the theater of collective memory, which vom Bruch posits as an archive of media images – television advertising, Hollywood cinema, World War II archival films. Subjectivity is located in a violent confluence of the spectacles of war, technology, and capital. Aggressively deconstructing representations of the military and mass media apparatuses, vom Bruch’s videotapes take the form of propulsive, nonverbal collages. Relentless in their obsession and repetition, his signature visual systems exploit both the one-on-one directness of video and its relation to the mass media apparatus. In an exacting fusion of structure and content, his formal strategy is to use rapid-fire video switching to alternate repetitively between two visual sources – one appropriated, one a “live” self-image – so that they are seen simultaneously as composite texts. Rhythmically inserting flash-frames of his face into tightly edited, stutter- step fragments of archival films, cinema or advertising, he constructs associative, metaphorical meaning. Reductive, hypnotic soundtracks heighten the tension as self-portraits interrupt repeated images of war and mass media technologies.

Vom Bruch’s early works are compelling inquiries into postwar German identity. The mythic past collides with the media present as the artist is seen in collusion with World War II bomber pilots, wartime destruction, and TV advertising. Collapsing the personal and the historical, conflating subjectivity and history, desire and the cinematic apparatus, or the body and communications technologies, vom Bruch’s potent analytical systems expand on the theories of Paul Virilio.

Producing tapes, installations and performances since the mid-1970s, vom Bruch has focused in recent years on mixed media installations that analyze the public and private spheres of communications technologies, including radar and satellites.

Klaus vom Bruch was born in 1952. He studied with John Baldessari at the California Institute of the Arts from 1975-76, after which he studied philosophy at the University of Cologne.” (Electronic Arts Intermix)

Therese Grisham has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, and was awarded a Fulbright lectureship to the University of Dresden in Germany, where she remained for three years, winning a teaching award in film studies. She has taught the history of German cinema in Seattle, Dresden, and Chicago, with a specialization in the New German Cinema of the 1960s-80s. Grisham now teaches in the Cinema Studies program at Columbia College Chicago and in Media and Cinema Studies at DePaul University. She has given public lectures on German film and terrorism, and offers classes on directors and movements in German, Italian, and French cinemas at the Film School at Facets Multi-Media.

Special thanks to Klaus vom Bruch, Therese Grisham, Redmond Entwhistle, and Thomas Beard & Ed Halter (Light Industry).

Filed under: video