||in: Out Of The Intermix. Audience, genre, new media
West 6/7 1993
Faculty of Visual and Performing Arts, University of Western Sydney
ISBN 1 86341 123 2
ISSN 1038 8565
From the Supermarket of Sentences
An Interview with Rotraut Pape on the work of Raskin (Rotraut Pape and Andreas Coerper)
by Gabrielle Finnane and Colin Hood
Introduction: Gabrielle Finnane/Colin Hood
Working under the partnership title of "Raskin", Rotraut Pape and Andreas Coerper have developed a vocabulary and style of video performance and installation which distills elements of collaborative intermedia into uncanny dialogical and visual assemblages. Their association began in the early eighties, when with Oliver Hirschbiegel, Eschi Eiege and Kai Schirmer they created the performance group M. Raskin Stichting ens.
Working out of Hamburg, their early performance work consisted of spontaneous 'gatherings' (to make and perform art) at construction sites and in unoccupied buildings. The use of video in these early performance was limited mainly to documentation, but was soon adapted as an integral element of the live performance.
1981 saw the release of the first four hour edition of Infermental, a 'video-book' compilation of interviews, videos and trailers, conceived by the Hungarian film and video maker, Gabor Body, edited by Gabor Body and Astrid Heibach. Aiming at a reconciliation or exchange of cultural, regional and media differences, the first program contained almost forty works (or segments), including those by Body, Heibach, Pape, Coerper, Hirschbiegel, Jon Jost, Ulrike Rosenbach, and a staged video-taped conversation between Gabor Body and Marcel Odenbach. Pape and Hirschbiegel edited a Hamburg edition in 1982. The division of this issue into six thematic sections, Stress Therapy/Heroes and Gnosties/Modern Life/What l Am/ Services/Ritual Mechanics, reflected the commitment of the editors, M. Raskin Stichting ens., and nearly seventy other artists (including Australia's S.P.K.) to establishing new forms of interdisciplinarity and media analysis.
Since 1987, Pape and Coerper (collaborating under the abbreviated title, Raskin and utilising the resources of the Lyon-based media 'laboratory', Frigo), have focussed on synthesising fragments of everyday speech and video 'portraiture', foregrounding the anomalies and incongruities of 'living' dialogue in a series of videos and video-installations. The tropes of promise, revenge, love, relief, remorse, insecurity, the clichés of soap opera and advertising ("drawn", as Pape remarks, "out of the great supermarket of sentences") form a web of intersubjective confusion, a primal phantasm of talking heads, supported by, perhaps provoking, an image repertoire of symbolic or 'found' associations.
Rotraut Pape: Die Mauer/Negative Horizon
1992 Beta SP stereo 110:00
When I think of the reasons for my attachment to the bunkers (an attraction that has lasted some twenty years), I realise that it results, not only from an intuition, but also from a convergence between the reality of the construction and its emplacement at the edge of the ocean, a convergence between my attraction for the spatial phenomenon, the powerful allure of those stretches of sand, and the very position of these constructions set against the wall of the Atlantic, facing an empty vastness.
Paul Virilio, "Bunker Archaeology"
In her four channel video work, Die Mauer/Negative Horizon, Rotraut Pape utilises the boundaries of the 'old' Berlin Wall to document a walking tour of the once divided city. Walking around the wall (once the site of a division and of a privileged form of spectatorship surveillance), her video-camera halts at strategic, perhaps whimsical moments, alighting on souvenir sellers, 'wall-ghetto' dwellers, and details of the wall itself. Pock-marked, graffitied, punctured (with twisted steel poking out of gaping holes), the wall appears as a memorial to cold-war antagonism and a wounding division within a once homogenous urban culture. To walk the wall, in Pape's treatment (post-'89), is to work the image of a 'defaced' logistics of perception and division, to create (in Virilio's terms) an image block, "which is both a contamination and a communion." (C.H.)
Raskin: Mutter Vater ist Tot/Mother Father is Dead
1987 U-matic video 7 min
199O Beta SP 11 min
Raskin: Du Hast kein Herz/You Have No Heart
1991 Beta SP 16 min
1992 video installation Beta SP 2x60 min
ln a work from 1987, Mother Father is Dead, Rotraut Pape and Andreas Coerper reworked a Dallas story in a scene like some video clinic of the future, a technocratic vision of soap opera. Key elementstalking heads, stealthy sideways glances, confessional language of magazine psychology, hyperbolic musical punctuation, filming within a studio space, flashbacks and dissolvesplayed on a stylistic crossover between TV soap and some modernist polemic against action, realist mise-en-scene and staging. The archetypal story involves a father who goes missing in an airplane accident, is found by natives, suffers amnesia, reappears wearing dresses and wigs, returns to live near his family disguised as a ranchhand. The mother believes this is her husband, the three sons consider him a liar and a crook. The mother recounts the story, the sons take up the thread and in a tightly structured seven minutes a story unravels in which each teller of the tale in turn becomes the 'l' of the flashback, a pseudo-memory recounted to the mother by a pseudo-father whose 'return from death' triggered the story in the first place. In an open-ended conclusion the sons decide to expose the ranchhand/father in the hotel as a liar and a crook and while the mother pleads with them 'no violence', news footage of a policeman breaking down a door plays in a scratch repetition.
Pape in brown silk and white pearls playing the mother, a floral background for a nostalgic photo, strange wigs superimposed over the performers faces standing in for the amnesiac father, optical screens and backgrounds covered in mathematical formulae, all combined to reconstitute the rich artifice of a formulaic story. The deep colours of the studio backgrounds, the white studio earplugs evident in the actors' ears, the changing mise-en -scène of the clothing imparted an ambiguous air to the presentation.
The shuttling of the story between different performers takes a different slant in the trilogy which commenced with Smokenights and You Have No Heart. The trilogy traces the permutations of soap operatic sentences through an inventive variety of formsunravelling the pictorial and plastic nature of their language.
Smoke Nights looks initially like some fabulous advertisement dissecting the opposition between thought and feeling, gesture and daydream, in a scenario of seeming glamour people whose thoughts alternate between the fantasised objects of consumerism (image dissolves appearing in clouds of smoke as they puff on their cigarettes) and outbreaks of trembling contagious emotion (spoken fragments such as "something's missing", "you knew how much he meant to me").
The appeal of all this is in its inventive investigation of dialogue in everyday human relationships, a kind of psychology of experience lived in the era of too many soap operas, a zone of feeling-language. This is why Raskin describes the circularity in psychological and not just formal terms: "There is normal dialogue: Question and answer. Commentary and contradiction. There are also internal dialogues, with a bad conscience. Now and then, the protagonists get caught up in arguments that culminate in speechlessness, or they are drawn into a whirlpool of repetitions, like a choir." >1<
The average artistic response to melodrama is parodistic, camp, reducing it to a set of gestural histrionics. In contrast Raskin, like much other post-Brecht German theatre, plays on a heightened form of melodrama, treats it to ironic distance, in a manner that intensifies its effect and its display of the forms of social psychology. Reminiscent of the Brechtian legacy too is the mock-pedagogical tone, perhaps best exemplified in the M. Raskin Stichting ens. works by the title of an earlier performance, Studies on Brain-Picking and True Emotions (1984). A wealth of modern styles resonate in the videos. The dynamic of self-accusation and counter attack, the confronting of the audience with the ambiguous stares of the performers, are as reminiscent of punk spectacles as of performance art. The mundane fetish objects of TV glamourcigarettes, 'big' hair, chiselled made up faces, 'love' flowers, red carsthe whole evocation of a hard-edged pristine look pervades the works with an imperturbable post-pop cool.
You Have No Heart formalizes the commentary on the self implied in the earlier works.>2<
One is reminded of Jung's characterisation of emotion as "the intrusion of an unconscious personality", in the dual protagonists of You Have No Heart and Heart House Ice. In both versions this other as projected self is the lover, "repulsive monster", a figure who, in turn, finds you, the self, a "repulsive monster". The implied mirroring of personalities and emotions in the lover duo appears not only in the doubling up and repetition of each other's language but, in the first channel version, in the form of a Persona-like dissolve of one (male) head into the other (female) head, the spiralling of the dissolve or the grid-like shunting between the two behind the arrow and, in the two channel version, in the division into two wall projections of the male and female protagonists and their simultaneous mirror reflection alongside the opposite image. Like Jung's vision of the traces of demonic spirits in the metaphorical language of emotion, You Have No Heart conjures up the mutation of language into object as the argument intensifies. A literal mutation occurs when the woman's face endlessly transforms through new hairdos to the sound of the man calling "a new face, a new face" and the woman insisting "you're not like the others".
An early performance featured the alter ego as a doppelgänger/bad conscience on wheels that accompanied the performers on stage. The sculptural vision of a bad conscience whether a companion on wheels, an axe splitting wood, a rotting applelends a concrete humour to the depiction of the duality of the modern romantic self. Certain dualisms, however, are thrown out the window in the videos: the opposition between 'real' feelings and 'acting out', 'formulaic' and 'individual' expression, speech and interiority, deceptive words and 'revelatory' (truth telling) body language. En route through postpunk hard-edged style crossed with American glamour soaps and a virtuoso mastery of video effects, the Raskin works have indeed succeeded in mixing "everyday life topics" and "all sorts of genres of media expression" as discussed in the interview below. (G.F.)
CH Would you like to talk to us first about your involvement with Infermental over the last ten or twelve years?
RP I got to know Gabor Body in 1981 and he had just done the first edition of Infermental together with Astrid Heibach in Berlin. He asked Oliver Hirschbiegel and me to make the second edition for '82. We found the money from the city of Hamburg and asked people we knew and liked to send their work on video. We also taped people and things we thought of as being important for that time. We didn´t want to make a purist video-art magazine, we thought of video as an electromagnetic living-space and a way to store audio-visual information, to make it accessible, more like an encyclopedia. We edited and arranged the works under different topics and the whole thing came out six hours long. The original idea of Gabor Body, who was an avant-garde filmmaker from Hungary living in Berlin, was the exchange of information with the cut-off eastern countries, to build bridges between the media-islands, to create a functioning network. Each following edition of Infermental was made by a different team of editors, in a different country. The coordination was done by Vera Body, his wife. Out of the pool of editors, one was sent to supervise each following edition, to make sure the project didn´t get out of hand. In 1984 I was invited to Budapest to supervise the third edition made by Laszlo Beke and Peter Forgazs at the Bela Balacs Studios. In 1987 I was sent to Buffalo, New York. Other editions were made in Rotterdam/Holland, Lyon/France (Frigo), Buffalo/USA (Hallwalls), Vienna/Austria, Tokyo, Vancouver/Canada (Western Front) and Osnabrück/Germany in collaboration with Ljubljana/Ex-Yugoslavia. One edition a year. They were shown more or less frequently in different parts of the world. We´re still waiting for someone willing to do the Australian edition.>3<
CH Who or what would you say were the major influences on your work during that period or through the eighties?
RP I'm influenced, I think, not much by other artistsl'm influenced by life in general. The eighties were the time of punk rock, dilletantism and simulation, but also of rigid structures. In our performance work with the M. Raskin Stichting ens, we worked on everyday life topics, manipulation, overstimulation, mixing all sorts of genres of expression. "Reality is the private domain of those who control the mass-media", so we felt we'd have to understand things from the inside, to analyze and use these technologies. Our shows were called "Studies on Entertainment" with changing subtitles. We mixed film, TV, cooking and concert with action. Reconstructing dry theory and embarrassing superficiality to create situations where it wouldn't be important if the result had nothing to do with our original intentions.
GF We'd like to hear about the collaboration with the M. Raskin Stichting ens. How it worked and what the early performances were like.
RP Four of us studied fine arts at the academy in Hamburg, each of us working in a slightly different field. Andreas Coerper was into painting and sculpture; Eschi Fiege gave lectures about the colours of passion; Oliver Hirschbiegel was torn between formalistic story-telling and violent action-pieces; Kai Schirmer worked on artificial intelligence for a linguistics degree; and I did heavy-duty experimental films. We founded the group M. Raskin Stichting ens in 1981 so we could work together. Being an artist is a very lonely job, you are always by yourself. l spent most of my days sleeping and the nights working alone in the dark, so that was the perfect balance: live performance meant risk. We started to work in the street and in places where we would meet at midnight. We met at a certain time at a certain placeanyone could join infor example at a construction site. We met and drove there 'in formation', occupied the building for a couple of hours, worked, and then toured the exhibition ourselves. Then we left and forgot about it. The more spectacular aspects were our performances. They were subtitled Ritual Mechanics, Studies on Hate Man & Love Culture or Studies on Brainpicking & True Emotions . It was the five of us on stage. lt was a live reflection on life on stage.
GF Could you tell us how and when Raskin moved from performance to video?
CH ...and at what point does your performance become more a construction within video as opposed to a situation where you document performance with video?
RP We always taped the performances and made videos from it later on. The last performance we made was already a video performance. We had five video containers with monitors in them: they had rollers under them and we pushed them around as our doubles, our lookalikes. There were ten people on stage and everybody would be fighting with their own bad conscience and the bad conscience would kind of wreck the show and say "Now we want to go to the toilet". And so we'd all have to go to the toilet.
CH So it was like a doppelgänger on a TV monitor on wheels?
RP Right, that was the idea. We wanted to have the monitors telling us what to do, and it sounds great now but it didn't work. Our doppelgängers couldn t make it down the stairs. That was in 1986.
CH About the same time you did the Temple of Reason Performance ?
RP That was at the Biennale in Paris in ´85, the last real performance without video, with only us on stage. The Temple of Reason became a video-sculpture afterwards. We were replaced by five monitors and five tapes. We finished art school at that time and moved to different cities. Only Andreas Coerper and I continued working under the name of Raskinwithout the M. and the Stichting and the ens. We presented the installation Waswaswaswaswas (Whatwhatwhatwhatwhat) in Berlin in l99O. There were five heads on five monitors (Andreas Coerper, Klaus Dufke, Michael Esser, Rotraut Pape, Regina Staegemeir), talking and interacting with each other, the monitors sitting on oversized wooden chairs. A Macintosh assured the perfect synchronization of these talking heads.
GF Did you do single-channel works like Smoke Nights and Mother Father is Dead first? Or were they installations at the start?
RP Most of our single-channel works where parts of installations in the beginning, we made tapes from the footage afterwards. It s so much easier to have a tape shown than an installation. Then again the tapes help us to find possibilities to present the installations.
CH Do you think it's possible to create an interactive space through video installation in a way which is unobtainable throughsay, live performance?
RP No, I don't think there is any medium better than the other. Normally you do performances just oncethat's not like theatre you know. And in doing a show, it depends a great deal on the audience, how it comes out. Installations go on for weeksyou can look at them when you feel like it, even come back to study them. Everybody can choose their own way to approach it. We, as the makers, were happy when we first sent our electronic lookalikes to do the job, because we then could stay home and work on the next thing. Now I start missing the live-kick, but I do live-TV at times, that also serves the purpose.
GF Could you comment on the visuals in the video works, in particular the style of photographic portraiture that you use for filming the five performers? First, does any of it come from glamour photography? Secondly, I noticed you said earlier you wouldn't cite any particular artistic influences, but when I first saw them I thought the videos were stylistically reminiscent of the inexpressive portraits done by artists such as Axel Hütte and Thomas Ruff.
RP I would say we are in between Thomas Ruff and Dallas. For a video monitor, the best thing to show is a face in the middle that talks. That is the video image per se . And the image itself? lt's all a question of lighting, of good lighting.
GF And did you use a certain style of make-up?
RP We paid a guy to fix us up, to de-individualize us. I think this kind of Max Headroom atmosphere, a cold atmosphere, cheap glamour, comes because we are not playing, we are not trying to be sympathetic and we are not acting since we aren't actors. l think that's the difference between performance and theatrewe're talking like normal human beings and we're not making faces and not rolling eyes. We have this knob in our ears where the text comes from. The original Waswaswaswaswas installation is 45 minutes without a single cut. You cannot have anybody learn a text like this that's looped and repetitive, who is not a professional. We are working with long pauses and then on the exact same frame everybody starts singing or drinking beer. Impossible to keep the timing if you're not a robot.
GF So the performances were all to playback.
RP We'd listen to the sound and speak it out loud. There wasn't only the text in the ear but also stage directions like "now l,2,3 - look to the right" and things like that. Each of the five had a different tape of course. The concentration made the eyes of the performers go onto zero. That s what makes them look so distant.
GF But sometimes in the installation you start yelling and sometimes there are pronounced actions such as the eyes shutting and the eyes moving.
RP Some of it is technical distortion.
GF How's the text generated for those performances? ls it written or do you improvise it initially?
RP: Mostly it's a compilation of sentences taped from TV and Radio and only some is written. We take the words out of the great supermarket of sentences flying around us. In Heart-House-Ice, two heads, of a woman and of a man, are communicating, and the theme of their relationship is seen in fragments. Reflections of language and speech are one focus of this work: the mimicry and the breaks and the spaces between the sentences competing with the sentences and the fragments of sentences. There is normal dialogue like question and answer, there are internal dialogues with a single bad conscience. Now and then the heads get caught up in arguments that culminate in speechlessness, or they are drawn into a whirlpool of repetitions, like a choir. The sentences are simple mega-sign-sentences like "you have no heart", "you have no feelings", "something's missing", "you're not like the others". These were filled up with other images reflecting the action between the two performers and by the complicated images they generate in their brains. You see what they think, while they talk. The information hides between the sentences and the images, within the unsaid.
GF What about Mother Father is Dead? Is there a storya soap operatic story?
RP There's a story in it but it's twisted around a bitsomeone burnt in an accident who has lost his face, voice and memory, then fixed up by plastic surgery matching a picture they found in his pocketa picture of his wife. When his consciousness comes back, he finds his family, but they thought he was dead and they don't recognize him, because he is a woman now. Some 'real Dallas fans' might recall the story, but we doubled it, giving a female face to the father, using a woman with a wig. It's a work on memory and identity with questions like: was it really me, or do l only think so, because l've heard this story so often?
GF As we're talking about hair, l think of the hair sequence in HeartHouseIce and l wonder how much you think about the motivation of the video effects you use in videos? Most of your effects seem explicitly symbolic.
RP The images that you see are all thought out very thoroughly. Each person's speech may take on a pictorial or typographic shape, and in this shape it may be converted into a wounding arrow or a protective shield. In the sequence with the different hairdos the woman says "you're not like the others, you're not like the others" and it's always the same face just different hairdosat the same time the man says "a new face? a new face!" l think that's a good image for a very complex problem.
GF Often in video art effects are used in an arbitrary or purely formal manner. With these images, the words of ice and so on, there is a literal correspondence to the speech. You don't seem interested in effects that are purely abstract or decorative at all.
RP For every wipe, for every fade there must be a reason. If one hasn't thought about it, concentration drops right there, around the effects.
GF You started out making films, are you interested in making more films?
RP I might do more films. I´m not addicted to one medium. I started with video in '77. I did five pieces in a room without cutting, because at that time there was no editing possible for me, so I decided video was a live-time medium and I wouldn't touch the time-line, I'd touch the rest. I'd shoot each work three times, pick the best take, and that was it. Movement and changes were made by light, by turning around mirrors that reflected or cut off the sight-lines throughout an apartment. I moved the world, but l'd never move the camera. I showed these videos in art school at a party, and the next day the film professor Rüdiger Neumann came to see me at home with an old Bolex camera and a couple of films and said "you make films now". So I made films. I liked the new possibilites of editing with filmwhich I couldn't do with videoof dominating time and rhythm. He also gave me an optical printer that he built. I started to make films in a 'real woman's' way, like knitting. l really liked to be able to touch the material, to walk on it, to rip it apart, and then pass it back through the printer. People appeared, not to tell a story, but to define the space. Ideas developed while working on them. I worked on different things and only some of it entered the films. I once made an installation, an oversized book-shelf filled with paper-mache books. I made a couple of books a day, putting titles on them to mark the topic that I thought into them. After exhibiting it, I put this private library out on the street and filmed it while passing through it with a car. Then I threw the books away. In the film Aviators shouldn´t be afraid, this sequence only lasts for a couple of seconds. Later on my camera broke down and I couldn't afford to fix it. At the same time I was invited to work with the people of Frigo in Lyon, so I moved to France and started to work with video again because I had easy access to the facilities.
CH Could you tell us about this idea of 'archaeology video' in relation to Die Mauer/The Negative Horizon. You talked about archaeology as documenting the destruction of the wall, rather than reconstructing, or what conforms to a conventional practice of archaeology, and you also talked about it in terms of assisting in the disappearance of the wall. Could you elaborate on that.
RP This archaeology idea can be found in different layers inside the film. First of all you have the archaeology on the surface of the wall: every little thing written there would refer to something complex about our culture during a specific time. The wall was a mirror that reflected its surroundings, only if you knew how to read the information, how to put it together in your head. The video shows the wall at four times during one year (89/9O). The last time I filmed it, it was gone. lt's like an inverted archaeology. As a normal archaeologist you find pieces of pots, you get them out, you put them together. Here it's the other way around, the Wall was literally beaten into pieces by millions of people from all over the world. After november '89 Berlin became the latest place of worship, where busloads of pilgrims turned around in circles. New relics for a modern time, charged with a romanticism of disillusion, these chips of concrete have made their way into people's apartments and pockets. To offer them to one another has become a new ritualhaving your own share of history.
CH In some ways though the disappearance of the Wall has made it more precious. It's become aestheticised through its slow destruction.
RP The wall as a symbol, as the key link between the 8O's and the go's was multiplied by all those small portions of it spread out over the whole planet. It's the aestheties of politics. I wanted to make a real objective point in my film. When I understood what was happening, I walked along the wall with the eye of the camera attached to it, to keep myself from forgetting. From time to time the camera just slides off a little and looks at something funny happening along the way, but I wanted to film just the wall, to note this physical aspect of it. In other films about the Wall it either looks like an oversized gay comic strip, or they show you the death strip at night with watchdogs and watchtowers flooded with greenish neon light. But they never show you the real thing. My film walks along the wall for one hundred and eleven minutes, right through the center of Berlin, there are eight or ten minute-stretches with the Wall on the right barely painted and a couple of bushes on the left. With this monotony you start getting the message of what it meant in everyday life.
CH: Why the performance aspect in Die Mauer/The Negative Horizon? Why for example do you maintain the live commentary in relation to it and why don't you incorporate that commentary into the soundtrack?
RP Normally I show this film without 'travelogue'. The commentary is something I do from time to time but I won't do it often. The commentary changes with the people watching the film. It's far more interesting to talk along with the film in Australia, than in some place in Germany. Totally different thoughts popped up while I was doing it at Experimenta in Melbourne. The film changes with these different commentaries. It's a very meditative workvery hard to get into and I like the idea that it's a film that you really have to work on while you see itit's not given to you. I like it a lot without me talking. It gets very hypnotic and draws you into your own thoughts.
CH So ideally Negative Horizon was moving to a kind of video book genre?
RP Well I always wanted to do a book to go with the video. lt's interesting to know for example, that the only remaining 200 meter stretch of the wall stands now fenced-in on the commemorative Prince Albrecht grounds, the ruins of the Gestapo Headquarters where Erich Honnecker spent some time in prison in 1935. That sort of information should be printed to be read along with the video. It's more of a tape that one should own, one should be able to stop it and rewind or fast forward it. It's such a marathon to look at the whole thing in one viewing.
GF What determined the two hour length?
RP The length is determined by geography. The walk started in Kreuzberg at the river Spree, followed the wall by the side of the streets. After about seven kilometers around the center of East Berlin the wall crosses the same river to continue on the other side again no bridgesso that's where the film ends. Also it's the most interesting stretch of the wall, you come from the outskirts of Kreuzberg (the hippie-freak area), past Checkpoint Charly (carrying weapons off-duty is prohibited), and the Brandenburg Gate (the tourist hang-out), to right behind the Reichstag where the new German government will soon move into. The artwork changes with the surroundings.
CH Are you thinking of staying in Berlin to document the construction of Berlin as the new capital ?
RP I keep on filming the same walk but only once a year now. It has been decided that no trace of the Wall is to remain to remind people about this latest German invention. All plans to integrate the wall into architecture and urban styling seem to have failed. It s amazing how fast this scar becomes invisible. Soon it will be impossible to detect the former course of the Wall throughout the city. Life is growing from the two sides of the border at such a speedbut l'm sure that they will dig around another ten years or so before they have all their new lakes filled with water and their new skyscrapers, before the final look will be achieved.
GF Your work is done on hi-tech equipment. How does that happen and how is it financed?
RP lt's the biggest problem with video that you cannot really own hi-tech video. You can have a VHS at home but you cannot really have the stuff you need to make films like the Raskin films or the Wall film. When Frigo invited me, I went there right away because they had a u-matic studio and a radio station so it was the perfect paradise to work in. We'd tape the footage for the Raskin installations in Germany and I'd work on them in France. Also I was always lucky to find jobs in that field, so I could get a hold on fancy hardware, at least from time to time. We had good jobs with the Frigo groupwe made commercial films, TV features, designed the graphics and the jingles for a TV station, worked on movies, for fairs etc. With jobs like these we contributed to the upkeep of Frigo and also funded our own works. This made us independent. Outside money always comes with demands and contracts and lots of other peoples opinions.
GF Who paid for the wall film?
RP When all the footage was shot, I started looking for money to synchronize the four images and copy them into one image. I also wanted to ask Klaus Duflke to make a computer animated introduction. Jo Eckhardt from the Video Forum / Neuer Berliner Kunstverein was interested and made a proposal to finish it with their help as co-producers. I got their whole budget for productions for a yearabout three thousand dollars. Keeping in mind that a day in a Beta studio costs about 15OO and that the video is really four times 111 minutes. You can imagine how far you get. lt was only possible finally with a little help from my friends who run the Weltbild studio in Berlin. They let me work after hours and l learnt how to use the machines while spending nights there. When l was finished l was a real specialist in that studio. l often work for them/with them now while continuing to do my own stuff. l think this is a much nicer way to finance your work.
GF And what about the context in which the works get shown in Germany? For instance would the Raskin videos get shown on TV? Ever?
RP Sometimes at night on small cable stations. Not on the big channels. They might show excerpts when they talk about video art, but I don t recall that an entire tape has been shown ever. Of cause, the tapes are presented in festivals and in museums, but we don´t earn loads of money with them. Doing performances we had a much harder time. We had many more shows outside of Germany than in Germany.
GF Do you do the soundtracks for the videos yourself?
RP Yes. l think the sound is as important as the image. The contents are generated by the relation of the two. Since I worked at the private radio station of Frigo, Radio Bellevue, and did lots of radio shows called "films for the ears", I have a different approach. You can tint an image by a sound. Pull it into another corner.
CH So what are your next projects?
RP l will continue to work with different people under different names, but also do just plain Rotraut-Pape works as well. I work a lot more with computers lately. The idea thrills me to be able to touch the image again, to do a little more knitting, to paint on it, slightly distort 'reality' and then put it back together on videotape.
Rauchnächte/Smokenights and Mutter Vater ist Tot/Mother Father is Dead were screened at The Sixth International Australian Video Festival, l991. Rauchnachte/Smokenights and the two-channel installation, Herz-Haus-Eis/HeartHouse-lce, were featured in Experimenta, 1992. A single channel version of Du Hast kein Herz/You Have No Heart was also sereened for the film and video program of Wit's End at the MCA in Sydney, 1993. Rotraut Pape's video/travelogue performance Die Mauer/The Negative Horizon was presented as part of the Erperimenta film and video program, 1992.
>l< Excerpted from Raskins synopsis for Du Hast Kein Herz/You Have No Heart.
>2< Joyce Rheuban, writing in Millenium Film Journal (No. 13 Fall/Winter 1983-84), has observed the inflection of a German romantic conception of the self in Rotraut Papes early films, films which explored a personal poetics of space through an architectonics of perception.