Installation View: Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden

Yet Untitled [»Pieces of Nature«] (2008) describes both performance and studio film production. Situated in a loose, self-reflexive narrative poised between the traditions of structural film, dance and theater, the carefully-choreographed film follows actors in what appears to be a casting process. Breathing, moving, and literally constructing the film before our eyes, crew members and the director himself are also revealed as actors, literally mirroring a photograph by Jeff Wall's famed photograph "Picture for a woman" [1979]. - Amy Patton

YET UNTITLED [»PIECES OF NATURE«]
S16mm transferred to HD, 11’’30min, Stereo, Colour
© 2008

Cast: Evelyne Cannard, Simon Denny, Assaf Hochman
Andrew Kerton, Anca Rimnic Munteanu
Mira Partecke, Bastian Trost

Producer: Mario Pfeifer/ Amy Patton
Cinematography: Max Penzel
Sound Design: Thomas Wallmann
Montage: Mario Pfeifer/ Amy Patton
Sound Recording: Michael Klöfkorn
Light Design: Patrick Albring

Supported by Städelschule Frankfurt am Main, FilmXchange & FujiKine

Produced by [blackboardfilms]
Conceived by Mario Pfeifer

  Pieces of Nature, like Flowers in Water [After Robert Bresson] , 2011

Pieces of Nature, like Flowers in Water [After Robert Bresson], 2011

Exhibitions/ Screenings

Städelmuseum Frankfurt am Main, 2008
California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, 2009
ATA Gallery San Francisco, 2009
KOW Berlin, 2009
KunstFilmBiennale, Cologne, 2009
Waseda University, Tokyo, 2010
Lichter Filmtage, Frankfurt am Main, 2010
Salon Populaire/ Kunstsaele, Berlin, 2010
KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2010
Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2010
Museum of Art and Design, New York, 2011
Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, 2011
Circa Projects, Sunderland, UK, 2012
Lipsiusbau, Kunsthalle Dresden, 2013
MMC Luka, Pula, Croatia, 2013
Kaistrutz Kulturhistorisches Museum, Görlitz, 2013

Nomination for Hessischer Filmpreis 2009, Frankfurt am Main/ Germany
Nomination for Bild-Kunst Award for Experimental Film, KunstFilmBiennale Cologne, Germany, 2009

Press

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27/11/2011
"Image, Reality and Staging" by Christoph Schütte

Artnet, September 2009 Artnet, September 2009
"In der Erfahrungskoje: Trouble with Realism, KOW Berlin", by Astrid Mania

Exhibition Views by Alexander Koch (KOW) and Ragunath Vasudevan

 Frame O, C-Print, 2008

Frame O, C-Print, 2008

A Better Articulation of Something Real.
Simulation and Imagination in Mario Pfeifer's Yet Untitled [„Pieces of Nature“]


Mario Pfeifer’s new film Yet Untitled [»Pieces of Nature«] (2008) is a structural narration about the production of moving images. Departing from the abstract space of an empty film studio, the German filmmaker is developing a poetical investigation of the spatial and aesthetic conditions of his medium and the implications for the production of meaning. The script being the result of a close collaboration with the actors revolves around their immediate reactions to the design of the studio; their performance of a casting situation for a fictitious film project serves as the plot of the piece.

MarioPfeifer_YUPON.jpg

Pfeifer’s fragmentary scenes are based on experiments of structural psychology in film from the 1970ies. The analytically sharp focus of the camera registers the concentrated warm-up, spell-out, waiting-for of a couple of young and beautiful people. Vague snatches of a conversation with the director are popping up from the busy soundscape of the shooting, only to vanish into the mythic depths of the studio curtains again. The carefully montaged details of the space – traces of heavy use on the floor, the harsh light of neons, a bouquet of flowers, a compilation of carpets, doors, tables – are adding up to an atmosphere of indecisiveness; the paradox of the fabricated real, the hyper-real. The philosophical concept of hyperreality, as articulated by the French post-structuralists especially Jean Baudrillard in the early 1970ies, deserves a closer look: The debates grapple with the problem of the image as something that doesn’t exist in itself but is merely the simulation of another thing; the simulacrum. This key term is derived from the Latin simulo , meaning at once phantasm, fetish and reflection. The simulo erupts in the middle of Yet Untitled [»Pieces of Nature«]: the director and crew appear for the blink of an eye in the minimal scenery of the studio, then the image is been carried out of sight by some installation workers – it is a huge mirror briefly reflecting the space behind the camera. Jeff Walls Picture for a Woman (1979) and its reference to Edouard Manets A Bar at the Folies-Begère (1882) serve as models for Pfeifer’s re-staging of the metaphor of the mirror as the coming-into-being via coming-into-thepicture of the subject. Then nothing but empty studio space again.

Pfeifer’s recourse to the canon of classical genre painting and postmodern dia-positives, his transformation of art historical material into moving images and his psychoanalytically loaded meditation on spectatorship merge into moments of growing distance towards the notion of essence. Niklas Luhmann discusses this tendency as metamedialization, the interlacing of different realities and their perception as symbolic systems. The actor’s speculations on their very roles, their relations among each other, their indirect communication with the director and last but of course not least the mirror wall – Pfeifer’s delicate web of representational strategies foregrounds exactly this inter-mediality, the symbolic power that jostles our imagination and fosters the wide range of associations immersing in the very process of meaning making. But what cultural consequence is to follow? The ambivalent relation of the as highly as hermetically loaded studio space and its factual surrounding is becoming clear when Pfeifer closes his film with the shot of an actor leaving through the back door of the studio onto a real road. The notion of „the streets“ and its oppositional model of agency contrasts intensely with the constructedness of an ‘art-icifical’ realm of image production. This provocative coda is the powerful critique of Pfeifer’s piece.

"So when the construction is exposed it makes the line between performer and performance a bit more complicated and perhaps in that way a better articulation of something real." These lines of an actor in the film are echoing along the frames. A certain longing for dis-alienated image production resonates within. It is by no means coincidental that the „Nature“ – the strongest and yet most complicated metaphor of truth –serves the work as a non-title. Yet Untitled [»Pieces of Nature«] is thus an ambiguous ode to the hallucinatory institution of cinematography, overflowing of poetic allusions towards the sheer materiality in the process of image making. Pfeifer’s particular synthesis of the real and the symbolic, the representative and the sensuous ultimately manifest the philosophical depth of the piece without straightening out the paradoxical discomfort of his very medium.

-Julia Moritz