The films of Anja Kirschner and David Panos stage collisions of historical, literary, and popular culture references in complex dramas that reflect on the role of art in society and its relation to socio-political phenomena like gentrification and financial speculation. Their fragmentary mode of narration moves, on the basis of conscientious research, between documentation, historical actualisation, melodramatic staging and a critical engagement with different genre devices and modes of performance.
Their recent films have looked at the historic emergence of art in relation to class and political power. The Last Days of Jack Sheppard, set in the early 18th Century, dramatises the relation between the thief and jailbreaker Jack Sheppard and the entrepreneur and author Daniel Defoe to draw out the relations between fiction, abstraction, and finance capital. The Empty Plan (2010) looks at theory and praxis in the work of Bertolt Brecht, playfully reimagining scenes of Brecht in exile in California, working on his unfinished theoretical work The Messingkauf Dialogues, and interpolating these with rehearsals of his 1931 play The Mother, in which Brecht’s techniques are contrasted with those of Stanislavskian naturalism.
At the Secession, Kirschner and Panos will premiere a new film that they've been working on in Greece over the period of one year. It will draw on a diverse set of references including archaeology, philosophy, pedagogy and ritual and explore the way in which monetisation and industrial labour have transformed the way we see, represent and interact with the world and the affective impact they have on our lived experience.
Ultimate Substance was commissioned by Secession (AT), Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen (BE), Liverpool Biennial and FACT (UK), with support from Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (DE), CentrePasquArt Biel (CH), DEMERGON Daskalopoulos Foundation for Culture and Development (GR) and Artscouncil England.
Anja Kirschner (born 1977 in Munich, DE) and David Panos (born 1971 in Athens, GR) live and work in London (GB) and Athens (GR).