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Dortmunder U | 3rd Floor

In the series HMKV Video of the Month, HMKV presents current video works by international artists for the duration of one month each. In August we are presenting the video CLOSE TO CONCRETE II by Pola Sieverding.

Pola Sieverding
HD Video, Sound, 2014, 15:20 Min.

„Something that never changes, by day, or by night. The past represents its future. It goes forth in a straight line, yet it ends by coming full circle.“
Lemmy Caution to Alpha 60

Following the video CLOSE TO CONCRETE I, that was filmed in Lisbon in 2011, CLOSE TO CONCRETE II, filmed in Berlin in 2014, is the second in a series of architectural portraits by Pola Sieverding. Both videos not only show how much formal aesthetic concepts of art since the early 20th century have conditioned our gaze towards our surrounding but also her interest in materiality seen through the camera and the narrative quality of (atmospheric) sound.

In CLOSE TO CONCRETE II we see the façades of Märkisches Viertel and Marzahn-Hellersdorf, two large-scale housing estates in Berlin. The camera slowly and deliberately pans across its main materiality, concrete, and the structures formed by its windows invite the viewer to contemplate not only the architecture's aesthetic language but also about the living space it is defining.

Developed from different sources like the "Symphonies of the planets - NASA Voyager Recordings" (1977) or Jean-Luc Godard's "Alphaville" (1965) and a certain "space" sound composed from various wind recordings and syntheziser sounds, the soundtrack enhances the idea of a distant future which has now become the present. That present being the mid-20th century with its race to the moon and modern concepts of mass organization.

We look at concrete as a representative of a utopia, a no-space, that has rare site specificity but defines very particular social spaces worldwide. By treating architecture as a character in its own right, a method elaborated by Michelangelo Antonioni, Sieverding refers to the potential human space it determines. Similar to the function of a proxy the visual level of the architectural space as well as the sound space create a mental space that speaks about those who are absent, those one might sense throughout the film as if they’ve just left the scenery: the people.

Camera: Pola Sieverding, Ulrich Urban
Editing: Pola Sieverding
Digital Mastering: Christoph Manz
Sound Design: Julian Holzapfel, Orson Sieverding
Sound Sources: “Symphonies of the planets – NASA Voyager Recordings”, 1977; “Ballade von der Unzulänglichkeit menschlichen Strebens”, Bertolt Brecht, 1928; “Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution”, Jean-Luc Godard, 1965

Pola Sieverding, *1981, lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She studied at Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, Surikov Institute Moscow and attained her MFA at the University of the Arts Berlin in 2007. She has been invited as an Artist in Residence to Ramallah, Prague and Lisbon and as a visiting lecturer to the International Academy of Art Palestine. Since 2016 she is teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich.