Innen ist nicht Außen
The works of the German artist Ulla von Brandenburg revolve around the theater and related dramatic conventions such as funfair sensations and folklore rituals. In films, installations, performance pieces, and drawings, she probes facets of stagecraft and theatricality, the relationship between spectators and actors, the implicit rules of play, and the interfaces between reality and illusion.
In her early black-and-white films, Ulla von Brandenburg stages seemingly motionless arrangements of persons and minute performative actions in order to explore ritualized patterns of behavior and the relation between being and semblance. An exemplary work is 8, a film she made in 2007: the camera travels down the suites of rooms in a French baroque castle in a single uncut dolly shot, encountering people or groups of figures in each room who perform equally mysterious and portentous gestures. Her more recent film Shadowplay (2012) likewise addresses the doubling implicit in play-acting and the tension between the directed performance, the identification with the role, and the identity of a person. A woman and two men meet in the dressing room in a theater; they put on their costumes, do their makeup, engage in histrionics and a duel. The stylized representational means of shadow theater and the song the actors sing in alternation—it serves to set the film’s duration—lend the work a fairytale-like and poetic quality.
Ulla von Brandenburg frequently presents her films in multidisciplinary displays specifically adapted to a room that weave a dense web of cultural and historical references. On several occasions, she designed spatial structures made of panels of fabric in different colors and theater curtains that engender liminal areas between outside reality and the artificiality of the theater while also marking the threshold to the spiritual space of the subconscious and unsaid.
Ulla von Brandenburg, born in Karlsruhe (Germany) in 1974, lives and works in Hamburg, Paris, and Rome.
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