Arsenal Summer School 2016: Communities of Legacy

in cooperation with silent green

This year’s Summer School takes place from August 25 to 27 in cooperation with silent green, where the Arsenal’s film archive is situated.

This year the focus is on concepts of cultural legacy. What does it consist of, who does it come from, who is it for? How does it move from the past into the future? It’s about films, buildings, but also about ephemeral things like messages and performance art. And of course about cinema.

Contributions by Khaled Abdulwahed, Madeleine Bernstorff, Didi Cheeka, Bettina Ellerkamp, Milena Gregor, Jörg Heitmann, Regina Holzkamp, Ken Jacobs, Birgit Kohler, Volker Sattel, Marc-André Schmachtel, Bettina Schulte Strathaus, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Clemens von Wedemeyer, the Harun Farocki Institute and SAVVY Contemporary.

The presentations are partly in German language only.


Thursday, August 25 
9 am   Arrival and greeting

10 am –12 pm  
Opening discussion: What is cultural legacy?
Milena Gregor, Birgit Kohler and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus (Arsenal – Institute for Film und Video Art), Bettina Ellerkamp, Jörg Heitmann (silent green Kulturquartier), the Harun Farocki Institute and SAVVY Contemporary

The analogue film archive of the Arsenal is now open to the public at silent green Kulturquartier. It contains images and narratives from the history of independent cinema all over the world, with a total of nearly 57,000 kilograms of film material. Next door is the Harun Farocki Institute, founded to create access to his creative output, but also to pursue the ideas that he left behind. He had imagined a “facility” at which “we can also organize an association of people working, not from any abstract intuition, but from the points of contact in the work.”
Colonial Neighbours, a project by SAVVY Contemporary, is an archive and research project on Germany’s colonial history, which is often viewed as something finished, belonging to the past. But every past leaves behind traces: in the form of street names and brand names (Mohrenstrasse, Sarotti), in art, in literature, but also in documents, photographs, film footage and stories, which not only lie in public space, but also in private archives in Berlin. And finally the silent green Kulturquartier itself: located in a former crematorium, which was built in 1911 as the first crematorium in Berlin and the third in Prussia, and which is now protected as a site of historic interest.

1:30–3:30 pm   Madeleine Bernstorff, Regina Holzkamp, Birgit Kohler
Getting access, relaying, activating – the collection of Blickpilotin

“It’s not just important for women to make films, but also for them to be shown and seen.” This is written in the first pamphlet put out by the Initiative für ein Feministisches Kommunales Kino, as Blickpilotin was called in the beginning. From 1989 to 2003 a group of women in changing constellations organized and presented film programs at various locations in Berlin and elsewhere to draw attention to the creative film work of women. Many directors, scriptwriters, camerawomen, film composers, and others were (re-)discovered in this way, many films were seen and discussed in relation to new questions. Blickpilotin conducted research on film writers, film genres, and film countries, collecting and archiving specific film literature and bringing out their own publications. Now, many years later, the work of Blickpilotin has been documented on a website as part of film history, and the archive, which has so far been privately housed, will soon (if all goes well) move to a public location–both efforts to give visibility and provide access to feminist cultural history. The participants will get a glimpse into the programming possibilities of Blickpilotin and can discuss opportunities to use the collection.

4–6 pm   Didi Cheeka, Marc-André Schachtel, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus
Reclaiming History, Unveiling Memory

A few months ago a batch of Nigerian films was found that had been produced in the period following British colonial rule.
 Memory is a half-dark room where back-lit particles of dust hang, like a veil, over a dump of half-forgotten rusted cans of films; memory is fading images, in black and white and color, on decaying frames, each frame a moment frozen in time. Memory, like trauma, is never really our personal possession, is never solely about us. Memory is always collective. How does a national archive of films contribute to the practice of memory and coming to terms with the past? “Reclaiming History, Unveiling Memory” is an invitation to the uncomfortable, but none the less exciting journey of reclamation and negotiation through restoration and projection. It is a look back – to the future. In the sense that it seeks to place archiving – beyond restoration, digitization – in a curatorial context, in relation to the present and the future. Supported by Goethe-Institut Nigeria, “Reclaiming History, Unveiling Memory” is an archive-driven project of Lagos Film Society.

7 pm   Dinner

Friday, August 26

10 am –12 pm   Bettina Schulte Strathaus
Seeking Fritz Bauer – A Workshop Report from the Archives

The ubiquity of Fritz Bauer in today’s media might be cause for wonder. Until only recently he had led a somewhat shadowy existence, known only in specialist circles. Anyone who recognized his face at all would never have expected to see it on the screen, big or small. Television archives are largely inaccessible and invisible to the public. This is only one of the reasons why it has long been forgotten that Bauer was as active in front of television cameras as he was in the courts, giving interviews there, debating, or holding speeches. He spoke there about the NS trials, about the political responsibility of the justice department, about denying history and right-wing radicalism, but also about questions of white-collar crime, sex crime legislation, or humanizing the penal system. He also talked about his own biography, about suffering from both political persecution and anti-Semitism, about being a Jewish remigrant to Germany.
Already in 2014 Bettina Schulte Strathaus compiled a double DVD for the Fritz Bauer Institute in Frankfurt, bringing together a total of 298 minutes of original film and television footage of Fritz Bauer from 1961-1969. For editorial reasons, but also often for copyright reasons, sometimes only clips were used, images were replaced by sound, text frames were added, bonus material was included, and other such ‘emergency solutions’ were taken. Like all intertwined paths, this process occasionally led to relevant findings and discoveries, which sometimes found their way into the publication, and sometimes left loose threads behind, which need to be followed.

1:30–3:30 pm   Clemens von Wedemeyer
DIE PFERDE DES RITTMEISTERS (The horses of the cavalry captain), Clemens von Wedemeyer, Germany 2016, 10 min & presentation of the exhibition concept P.O.V. (Point Of View) at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (May 28 – July 31, 2016 )

Clemens von Wedemeyers examination of historical phenomena is the basis of his interest and establishes socio-political references right to the present day. The starting point of the exhibition P.O.V. (Point Of View) at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, which assembles seven new works, is the documentary footage of Captain Freiherr Harald von Vietinghoff-Riesch, who as an amateur cameraman filmed in Europe during the Second World War between 1938 and 1942 behind the front line. Using the material as an example, von Wedemeyer examines pictorial spaces and boundaries of the subjective camera at war. Von Wemeyer here investigates, who is behind the camera and which information can a subjective view provide at war. The 16mm material serves as a basis for the most recent media space installations.

4–6 pm   Ken Jacobs
PERFECT FILM, Ken Jacobs, USA 1986, 22 min
THE DOCTOR’S DREAM, Ken Jacobs, USA 1978, 23 min

The interplay of the two films PERFECT FILM and THE DOCTOR’S DREAM shows two diametrically opposed ways of using found footage material: reconstruction in PERFECT FILM and deconstruction in THE DOCTOR’S DREAM. While a historical event, the assassination of Malcolm X, is called to memory in Ken Jacob’s PERFECT FILM, THE DOCTOR’S DREAM uses ruptures and rearranges the film images from an old television film, bringing to the surface the latent sexual connotations inherent in the story. Broken up in this way, the story of an elderly doctor who is curing a sick young girl appears in a totally new light. What the two works share is that they return the forbidden and the rejected to visibility. In both films the appropriation and artistic processing of existing materials becomes a seismograph of the Zeitgeist depicted in them. Ken Jacobs on PERFECT FILM: "A film that was never made... unedited clump of out-takes of history. US TV newscast reportage of Malcolm X assassination. Presented for your delectation as lifted directly out of the garbage can."

Saturday, August 27

10 am –12 pm   Khaled Abdulwahed
The permanence of crisis as cultural legacy & the manipulation of the collective memory by means of censorship

In my film JELLYFISH, I’ve tried to explore the media pictures of the Syrian conflict, in order to understand, in depth, the events of the Syrian revolution and the transitions that led to a civil war, while I’m outside my country. By doing so I explored the circumstances, mechanisms, of producing pictures, and the process of including and excluding these pictures from media exposure, which later will become our collective memory of the conflict. The result was, simply, that the new picture I produced about the conflict ‘my film’ was excluded from being in that collective memory. (Khaled Abdulwahed)

1:30–3:30 pm   Volker Sattel, Birgit Kohler
LA CUPOLA, Volker Sattel, Germany 2015, 40 min

The portrait of a house without supporting walls. A bold dome made of concrete, an open space – right in the middle of the bizarre rock formations of a rugged coast made of reddish granite. The house belonged to actress Monica Vitti and director Michelangelo Antonioni. The emptiness of the “cupola” and the deserted quality of the site are the starting point for speculating – seemingly at random, figures wind up in the image and enter the dome, and even today, the utopia of an alternative concept of living seems to float above its form. LA CUPOLA interweaves the story of a building with the story of a love, letting the two come into dialogue with one another. Different levels of time, spaces of reflection, and histories overlap and correspond with one another. The secret inherent to Antonioni’s abandoned villa, the reality of life during the time shared between Vitti and Antonioni, cannot be definitively answered. The future of this piece of cultural legacy, however, significant to both architectural history and film history, is uncertain.

4-6 pm, Closing Discussion followed by reception


The number of participants is limited (35 persons). 

Attendance fee: 135 Euro / 115 Euro (members, students, Berlin-Pass) / 95 Euro (members of arsenal freundeskreis)

Registration deadline: August 10, 2016

Event venue

silent green Kulturquartier 


Angelika Ramlow | Organization