Forgetting is one of the foundational problems in the artistic practice of Maya Schweizer, who has been making experimental films and exploring various video essay forms for 15 years. Most of her films focus on specific locations: the director explores catacombs, memorials and historic buildings in order to jolt our collective memory into action. The subject of Insolite is the volcano of Mount Vesuvius. By layering various media – archival footage of its eruption, seismographic readings and Medusa’s final glance from a Pompeiian mosaic – Schweizer conveys the power that lurks within the volcano. Isn’t fear of the recurrence of disaster reason enough to look to the burning rocks beneath our feet?
Fear is also located in the past in Regarde par ici,… where the Berlin Wall is no more. Looking at everyday life in the city, even through the holes of a watchtower, how can we preserve history in our thoughts? Schweizer plays fragments of memories, buzzing sounds and Cold War-era radio broadcasts to greet the ghosts of this place. Though her medium is the moving image, she teaches us that looking is not enough to remember. We must also hear and touch. Voices and Shells makes use of undercurrents, the open doors of museums and a snake shedding its skin to sharpen the senses.
Schweizer’s experiments invite us to lean out of the watchtower of ordinary perception. At the same time, the director warns against the dangerous illusion of complete understanding. In I, an Archeologist, a tour of the catacombs of Rome turns into a performance. What we are able to learn about the past is subject to the personality of the narrator, the script notes and the whims of the lighting technician.
Curator: Galina Kukenko