Die Mauer - der negative Horizont (English)


1992, 01:51:32, PAL, color, sound, P006 Disc 2 01

The two-hour video Die Mauer – Der negative Horizont is both a historical document and cinematic experiment. The title refers to the theoretical essay L’horizon négatif by the French philosopher Paul Virilio, which reflects on the effects of increasing speed and a destructive present on perception and human behavior. The work is based on Pape’s wanderings through Berlin with a camera: from Köpenicker Strasse in Kreuzberg to Mitte, by way of Checkpoint Charlie, the former Gestapo headquarters, and the Brandenburg Gate to beyond the Reichstag building. When Pape became convinced on the very day the Wall fell, November 9, 1989, that the Wall would soon disappear, she decided to repeat her wanderings on the same route at four different times: in November 1989, in February 1990, in August 1990, and in November 1990. Following a brief historical introduction on the division of Germany in 1945 and the building of the Wall in 1961, Pape juxtaposes the four documentary films using a split screen. Views of the brightly painted Wall alternate with viewer platforms on what was once the West Berlin side of the Wall, with photographs of formerly divided streets, the activities of so-called Mauerspechte (Wall peckers, who chipped off pieces of the Wall as souvenirs), and the resulting “views through.” These scenes document the gradual disappearance of the border fortifications between East and West Germany. In her work Pape experiments with diverse camera perspectives such as full shots and close-ups, different focuses, and computer animation. Historical images from the past of the divided city are superimposed with documentary photographs of the Wall and testify to Pape’s artistic approach to contextualizing the format of the documentary film in a critical way. Blixa Bargeld, the lead singer of the band Einstürzende Neubauten, sings Der morgige Tag ist mein (engl. original: “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”) on the soundtrack of the film. The song was composed in the style of a German folksong for the musical Cabaret (1966) and was performed as such by Bargeld in the film Berlin Now (1985). Pape also produced a shorter thirty-minute version of the work in addition to this long version.