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Ein Abend mit Starship und Gästen: Die nahe Zukunft
18.05.

Discourse, Visual arts
German and English

The Near Future is both the title of the exhibition at the Volksbühne pavilion and the subject of the evening. With this term, the Berlin art magazine Starship, which also designed and curated the exhibition, wishes to indicate a temporality that is directly derived from the present. Although the near future cannot be strategically or analytically planned like the future, it nevertheless stems from a decision, and thus represents a time in which the sum of all that is possible is reality.

The evening is made up of various vignettes compiled by former and current Starship editors. These might be conversational or performative reflections, a revisiting of texts that were published in Starship, or moving and still images in which Starship anticipates the new, lurking just beneath the layer of the present.

With Hans Christian Dany, Ariane Müller, Gerry Bibby, and guests


Past Activities

The Near Future: An Evening with Starship and Guests

Larry Gottheim, Barn Rushes, 1971

16mm film, color, silent, 35 min.

Klaus Weber, Das Witzetape (The Joke Tape), 1995
Video, audio, 30 min.

Larry Gottheim’s 1971 structuralist film Barn Rushes shows—in a series of elegantly oscillating tracking shots arranged into different views—nothing more and nothing less than the image of the silhouette of a large barn, dissolving in different conditions of light, depending on the different times of the day and year. In this masterful study of stationary cinema and the frenzied movement of the cinematic image, the viewer does not know what exactly this building or barn is, but senses that through its form and its materials of wood and celluloid it is connected to another, earlier modernity, and as a result seems to be already doomed to obsolescence. This lends it a serious clarity as a moving image and implicates the cinematic experience associated with it.

According to Wikipedia, in 1670 Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm forbade having barns within the city area for fire safety reasons, and around 1672 he arranged the construction of twenty-seven barns in the immediate vicinity of what were then the city walls. This is how the present Scheunenviertel (Barn district) came into being. Alexanderplatz was a cattle market at the time, requiring large amounts of hay and straw. As the fire safety regulations prohibited the storage of such flammable materials within the city walls, the barns were built right outside the wall. North of what is now Dircksenstraße, which marks the wall’s approximate course before the baroque city fortification, lay extensive agricultural land. The Scheunenviertel also served as a home for the agricultural workers employed there. After the city wall was torn down, the area was developed, but kept its old name in common parlance.

None of the Berlin Scheunengassen (Barn Alleys) exist today in their historical form.

While viewing a film such as Barn Rushes, anticipation and remembrance are active both in a long-term perspective and in the intensified perceptual space of the moments between short-term memory and projection. We learn while we are watching, wondering from time to time how much longer the film might last, and we can assume with some certainty that there are other variations of the barn images that will follow. At the same time, this apparent certainty allows you to zone out and reflect on things that are perhaps stored in the vicinity of the word “barn” or its image, or perhaps have nothing at all to do with the barn but because they lie close to the emotion of the cinematic image of the barn, they take shape and emerge.

Something might come to mind that you had forgotten a long time ago, or that you did not know you had stored in your own memory. The mind, the inner memory, conjures something in relation to the inside and the outside. An inner picture, a social image or perhaps a joke. But perhaps it is not a joke at all. Or you don’t know yet that it is a joke for someone else.

In 1995, the Berlin artist Klaus Weber approached passers-by on Oranienburger Straße and Chausseestrasse in Berlin, asking them to spontaneously tell him a joke. The resulting audio piece, the so-called Witzetape (Joke Tape), sets the tone of the second part of the program that deals with Berlin and its streets, and a drastic articulation of the burst of the pre-conscious into the conscious realm.

Photo: Filmstill Barn Rushes. Credit: Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.

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