Birgit Brenner

Ein Anfang. Von Was. Oder so.

11 November – 23 December 2011

Birgit Brenner's installation for the Dortmunder Kunstverein is titled ‘Ein Anfang. Von Was. Oder so.’ This exhibition marks the beginning of a new series of exhibitions: The focus is on artistic works that, through means of the performing arts, examine the question of narrative structure, function and form of visual art. ‘Performatives’, ‘Excessives’, ‘Narratives’ in contemporary art will deepen the examination through the artists and their works over a longer period of time.

Birgit Brenner takes a literary approach to her work, her texts are organized like film scripts and serve as a starting point for an installative film set that is more like a stage for the soul. Using oversized photo plots, cardboard, signs, and verbal set pieces, she maneuvers us into the oppressive banality of the soul's life. Influenced by filmmakers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Jean-Luc Godard, the characters are like those from Ulrich Seidl's ‘Hundstage’ (Dog Days). Most of them struggle, fail, and express doubt in inner monologues. Nevertheless, Birgit Brenner is not primarily interested in interpersonal drama - it is merely a vehicle for finding images.

A beginning. From What. Or so.

8:26 p.m. He sits at the computer and watches a film. It's almost over and you can already guess the ending. Killing himself. Or something. It has to be quick. While the blood drips onto the floor and onto the cat, the actress says sentences like ‘Who's going to take care of my mother now?’ He knows this scene by heart and speaks the words along quietly. While she dies very slowly in the film, he does his weight training in the study. Sitting down and with five kilos per arm. He does not sweat.

The music gets louder and more melancholy. Finally, the credits roll. Meanwhile, in the background, his girlfriend pushes the vacuum cleaner from room to room. He stops exercising, sits there in his underpants and imagines the woman in the film kissing him, lying on top and having feelings. The fantasies are accompanied by the noise of the vacuum cleaner. The webcam records everything.

8:39 p.m. He has done what he had to do. He takes a handkerchief, wipes himself, puts his naked abdomen still close in front of the camera, close-up, and turns the camera off minutes later. All done. But it goes on.

8:43 p.m. He hugs his girlfriend from behind. She holds the vacuum cleaner handle tightly in her hand. His bare belly against her back. Then his hands are on her neck. Life has not been worth it. Always problems. He decides spontaneously, she goes first and he follows. He should squeeze hard now. And does.

8:57 p.m. When she finally lies lifeless on the floor below, he takes a photo of her. Calls it ‘woman on carpet’. He goes to the computer and puts the picture on the Internet. Quickly, there are the first reactions. Maybe it's not all for nothing after all. He thinks. Maybe it's all a beginning. Of something. Or something.


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