Videonale.scope #1 (2013)


Retrospectives: Birgit Hein and James Benning

With Videonale Scope, Videonale Bonn opens a new series of events dealing with the crossover and the interfaces between film and video art. The programme, curated by Daniel Kothenschulte, will start with retrospectives of two world-famous film artists who have influenced the film avant-garde for some forty years: Berlin-born Birgit Hein and American James Benning. Both of them will be there to discuss their works with the spectators. However much their positions may differ – Hein, with her collages and their frequent explosive cuts, was a pioneer of found-footage film, while Benning is known for his long, austere landscape shots – they have much in common: They were both born in 1942 and were successful in the experimental field of structural film; both drew upon the rich aesthetic pool afforded by the early cinema, and, as university teachers, inspired numerous, now well-known film makers.



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Birgit Hein: Found-Footage-Films, 1968-2013

Sat 16/11, 6.00 – 7.45pm
Auditorium, Kunstmuseum Bonn

Around 1968, Birgit and Wilhelm Hein were two of the pioneers of “Found Footage” films. In their works, they made the reproduction processes of the films become visible. In Rohfilm (1968, 20’), they demolished the familiar “film image” in a process which S. Dwoskin called “visual bombing”. In Reproductions (1968, 28’), travel photos dissolved into grey images. In Portraits (1970, 15’), photos were changed by the development and reproduction processes. In her recent video works, Hein returns to this stylistic device, and also to her mistrust of official film production. Kriegsbilder (2006, 10’) is a montage of war pictures taken since the end of World War II, while Abstrakter Film (2013, 9’) shows videos, taken on cell phones, of the fighting in Libya and Syria.


Birgit Hein will be present for the discussion.




Birgit Hein: Baby I Will Make You Sweat / 625

Sat 16/11, 8 – 10pm
Auditorium, Kunstmuseum Bonn

Baby I will make you sweat (1994, 63‘; Musik: POL):Hein’s examination of the theme sex tourism is an intimate travel diary about growing older and the longing for tenderness. In her post-processing of the video material on 16mm, she achieves an aloofness which contrasts with the realism of the electronic medium: “You can feel me there, behind the camera. The personal quality of this film is enhanced by the hastily formulated diary notes which describe those experiences which I could not film”. In 625 (1969, 34’), B. and W. Hein tried out the aesthetic of electronic images distorted by film. The title refers to the number of lines in a television picture.

Die Ästhetik durch das Medium Film gebrochener elektronischer Bilder erprobten B. und W. Hein in 625, benannt nach der Zeilenzahl des Fernsehschirms (1969, 34‘).


Birgit Hein will be present for the discussion.




Birgit Hein: The Kali-Films

Sun 17/11, 8 – 10pm
WOKI Cinema, Bonn

For the avant-garde public of London and New York, the Kali-Films (1987-88, 70’) are among the most popular works of B. and W. Hein. In their aggressively assembled collages they deconstruct horror films, films of women in prison and others. “The Kali Films present fantasies of sex and violence which official culture regards as taboo: in the depths of trivial cinema we find pictures which appeal to our own baser instincts. Kali is the mother goddess in the Indian Hindu mythology. She is the child-bearing and at the same time, the killing and castrating, woman. Men have feared her might since primitive times. This woman’s film portrays the Kali of our times.” (B. Hein, 1988).


Birgit Hein will be present for the discussion.




James Benning: 13 Lakes (2005, 16mm, 134’)

Thurs 21/11, 7 – 9.45pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

In one of the most radical, but also most beautiful of his landscape films, Benning offers his viewers an unforgettable experience of time: Everything which they invest in patience is paid back in gold. 13 great lakes of the USA are presented in the same number of shots, structured in light and colour, weather and seasons, noise and tranquillity. A tale about landscape, nature and culture, one which teaches us how to hear and see. “In 13 Lakes, it’s all about light. About light falling down from the sky on the water […] My problem was to frame all the lakes in the same way (half sky, half water) and yet to capture their uniqueness at the same time.” (J. Benning)


James Benning will be present for the discussion.




James Benning: Eleven By Fourteen (1977, 16mm, 81’)

Thurs 21/11, 10pm – midnight
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Benning’s first full-length film is a landscape study of the Midwest. Pictures of mobility, such as a journey of several minutes through the slums of Chicago on the overhead railway. Benning dares, in the USA, to experiment with a film in which form and structure take the leading roles. “The storyline and the ending are deliberately open, in order to emphasise that the reality of the film comes not just from the film itself, but must also arise from the experience of each person who views the film; every viewer must develop his own metaphors with the help of the film. Yet the style of the film – the actual passage of time and a documentary, static camera – contradicts the idea of a metaphor.” (J. Benning)


James Benning will be present for the discussion.




Birgit Hein: Die unheimlichen Frauen The Frightening Women (1991, 63’)

Fri 22/11, 7 – 8.15pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

“From the dawn of history women have also been perpetrators. They are just as bold and courageous as men, they can be just as cruel and criminal, and, of course, just as randy. In spite of this, the ideal image of femininity still exists today ‘free from aggression - peace-loving - asexual’ […].The film shows women in labour, drunk, masturbating, powerful women, but also the circumcised, operated on and dismembered victims, who have to pay for the fear women can summon up in men. Scenes from […] documentaries and trivial films, and sequences of my own, have been assembled into a collage… And yet, it’s always about myself: my fears and my struggle to live out my own strengths.” (B. Hein)


Birgit Hein will be present for the discussion..




Film as Film: A discussion with Birgit Hein and Wulf Herzogenrath

Fri 22/11, 8.30 – 9.45pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

“Film as Film”; this was the name of a landmark exhibition held in 1977 in the Kunstverein Cologne, and curated jointly by Birgit Hein and Wulf Herzogenrath, director of the Kunstverein. For the first time, the pioneering efforts of the experimental film avant-garde from the 1920s on were examined, and compared to the works of the flourishing underground scene of that time. As early as 1972, B. and W. Hein had participated in documenta 5. We are looking forward to this reunion and, together with Birgit Hein and Wulf Herzogenrath, will talk about the era when pictures were learning how to move, even those in the museums, although they soon forgot how to do so. Only at the end of the nineties did moving images finally find their way into the art institutes.


Moderator: Daniel Kothenschulte



James Benning: Grand Opera – A Historical Romance (1979, 16mm, 84’)

Fri 22/11, 10pm – midnight
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Anyone who regards James Benning as a master of cinematic duration will be astonished by his speedily-cut history of avant-garde films. Interleaved with static shots of landscapes and cityscapes one sees experimental games: an extravagant game using various materials. In addition, icons of avant-garde film such as Hollis Frampton, George Landow, Yvonne Rainer and Michael Snow put in an appearance. “Using autobiographical elements, 360 degree panning-shots which show the facades of houses he has lived in, and references to his earlier works, Benning generates a comical “structural” tale of his place within the avant-garde.” (The Whitney Museum of American Art).


James Benning will be present for the discussion.




James Benning: Ruhr (2009, HD Video, 120’)

Sat 23/11, 7 – 9.45pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Ruhr is the first film which James Benning made outside the USA. An American artist looks casts his eye over the Ruhrgebiet (the Ruhr area). Based in Duisburg, he explores the former industrial region. The focal point is always his understanding of culture and work – culture which arises from work, work which gives rise to culture, and art which, as a work of art, gives the concept of culture a social component. (Arsenal Institut für Videokunst – Arsenal Institute for Video Art)


James Benning will be present for the discussion.




James Benning: Landscape Suicide (1986, 16mm, 97’)

Sat 23/11, 10pm – midnight
Filmclub 813, Cologne

There is often a close connection between geography and crime, as Benning demonstrates with two cases:, as Benning illustrates using two cases: The murder of a Californian schoolgirl in 1984, and the serial murders of E. Gein, who dismembered his victims and prepared the fragments of their bodies – and is seen as the role model for “Psycho”. Interrogation protocols and the minutes of his trial are juxtaposed with pictures of the places where these people lived and died. “What interests me is life, death and place, but from a certain distance. And only in fragments, so that the viewer has to add the rest. […] Sometimes in actual time and for a certain duration, to force him to think, or as an act of remembrance.” (J. Benning)


James Benning will be present for the discussion.




Double Play – James Benning and Richard Linklater (R: Gable Klinger, USA/F 2013, 70’)

Sun 24/11, 7 – 9pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Awarded the Lion for the best documentary film at this year’s Venice Film Festival, this amazing double portrait of two seemingly diametrically-opposed directors is given its German premier: Benning’s austere filmic concept meets Linklater’s Slacker Movies, coming-of-age tales and love stories. Both directors have in common not only a high esteem of the other’s work, but also a love of baseball. And Gabe Klinger finds imposing camera shots which fit both of them. And as a bonus, James Benning’s unorthodox Youtube-Trilogy (2011, Video, 41’), from pieces which the lover of music found on the internet.




Birgit Hein: Eintagsfliegen (Mayflies) / La Moderna Poesia

Sun 24/11, 9.15 – 10.45pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Can the quality of love be expressed in numbers? Eintagsfliegen (1997, 25’) combines pictures and texts of painter and writer Gabriele Kutz – a statistic of mutual silence, of kilometres driven, of beers drunk and dried-up red wine. The central theme in La Moderna Poesia (2000, 67’), this personal report on a trip through Cuba, is the portraits of Che Guevara. “On enormous billboards throughout the whole country they proclaim ‘Your example lives on’. This conflict between pathos and kitsch, and real life, mirrors my own split personality as a tourist. My astonishment about ‘What has become of Che?’ is transformed into the question ‘ What has become of us?’” (B. Hein)





Kunstmuseum Bonn

Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 2

53113 Bonn

Metro 16/63/66: Heussallee / Museumsmeile



Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz 1-7

53111 Bonn

Metro 62/66: Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz


Filmclub 813 e.V.

Kino 813 in der BRÜCKE

Hahnenstraße 6

50667 Cologne

Metro 1/3/4/7/9/16/18: Neumarkt


Entry Fee 5 Euro / 3 Euro (reduced)






In 1968, Birgit Hein was one of the organisers of the legendary X-Screen-Festivals in Cologne. Together with her husband Wilhelm, she created film collages which radically deconstructed found material in order to reveal how the films operated. At the same time, she called into existence the politically-based scepticism about the institutions which produce moving pictures. In 1977 in Cologne, together with Wulf Herzogenrath, she curated the legendary exhibition “Film as Film”, a milestone in the opening of the art world to avant-garde filmmakers – Videonale is bringing them together once again for a discussion on this theme. After the separation from Wilhelm Hein, she created pathbreaking essay films which, in their highly individual approach, were viewed as contributions to the influential discussions about gender, violence and feminism.



In James Benning’s first full length film 11x14 (1977), shots of the middle west of the USA taken with a static camera are merged into a paradox narrative. The painterly camera work is underlined by a contrapuntal interplay of image and sound. Although no direct reference was made to the contemporary photographic art of a Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz or Bernd and Hilda Becher, Benning’s films are similarly positioned at the interface between documentary and artistic portrayal of reality. He is no less interested in natural beauty than in urban sprawl and industrialisation. In Ruhr (2009) he was able to depict the “Kohlenpott” (the Ruhr industrial area in Germany) in six long, fixed-camera shots of laconic beauty: A tunnel, a wood, a factory, a mosque, graffiti and a chimney stack. The film Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater, first presented at the Venice Film Festival, can be seen in Germany for the first time.