A number of very varied female art performances hailing from Austria have been collected on one solid DVD.
When I think performance art it's usually associated with sexual shows, Vienna actionists, Olivier de Sagazan and so on, but that's mostly because that's where my interest in the "genre" has been. I'm well aware that performance art comes in literally any shape and form. Which is why I had an interest in checking in this collection, as it looked different from the (to me) typical stuff. Instead we have this collection which is free of restrictions and even theme - outside of being a group of Austrian female performance artists put together on one DVD. The themes and messages of the performances seemed to differ a lot.
As always, I want to go through a few of them. It starts out with what might have been the oddest one, and in the beginning something I didn't enjoy. The longer I watched it the more it entertained me. This one is "Maria Lassnig Kantate", and it has an older woman (I suppose Maria herself?) singing about her childhood, how she did things differently, how important art has been to her life, and of course how she left the country for Paris, France. She is greenscreened in front of painted backgrounds. Once you get into the lyrics it's pretty interesting to follow, but hadn't there been subtitles I would've thought of it as stupid and boring. Luckily that wasn't the case!
Moving on to "Strangers", one of my favorites on the DVD. This is about how it feels to be a stranger somewhere, what strangers think, and what it is that eventually makes them break free from the term "stranger". One line from this performance sums it up to me: "Why does a stranger feel strange in a strange land?". This one has a woman coming off a train and then walking into the train station with a long rope/band getting stuck under a person's foot so she is leaving a long, red trail of rope after herself. Mildly amusing with a philosophical nudge in the narration.
Hands down the greatest of these films was "Byketrouble" simply because it was funny. It's just a camera set-up in an elevator, and we watch a woman trying to get her bike in there. It's the lowest form of comedy but I found it hilarious. It was even more fun when someone had to ride the elevator with her and watch her trying to get it out.
"SW-NÖ 04" featured, yet again, greenscreened people on painted background. But this time it was much more fascinating because they literally put the people into paintings. They even swin in the painted seas. It never really goes anywhere, and seems to lack message, but it's just a visual treat.
"Schminki 1, 2 + 3" is an experiment using photographes to cut together the scene, and it shows three different scenes of women putting on make-up. On top of it is a diffused, hypnotic sound. The bonus material of this DVD comes with an additional make-up scene, which I thought made this entire thing more interesting. It's clearly old footage, and it's of a little child putting lotion in her face. As simple as that, but that's enough to enhance the rest of the performance/film.
Mara Mattuschka and Chris Haring are back (check my review for "Mara Mattuschka / Chris Haring: Burning Down the Palace") with another performance of similar style, and yet again with Stephanie Cumming in the role. It's as great as ever to watch her pull off what could only be seen as unnatural movements and dialogue. Sadly it doesn't feel like it offer much more than the other films by them and even though I am fascinated, it's hard to say it was a surprise or took me by storm. But Stephanie Cumming sure knows how to handle her body.
These are the ones I felt are worth talking about. Not that the rest are bad, but they're either so short that I didn't have a solid idea about it, or that it just didn't wake any specific feelings. I think that this DVD is a worthy addition and yet again am happy to see a company focusing on releasing these odd films. It's hard to watch these things without leaving with a sort of fascination because of how they use their bodies, how they deliver a message and so on. "As She Likes It" is what it is.