Hinausgehen, Parts I, II & III by Ceven Knowles
Curated by Tim Reed
2nd December, 2012 from 13.00
Jönköpings Läns Museum
non-stop public screening
through the hours of darkness
continuing through December
Internationell Konst Film Utställning presents Ceven Knowles’ three-part film Hinausgehen as a public screening on the north wall of the newly refurbished Jönkopings Läns Museum, under the auspices of the museum’s director, Sergei Muchin, and the curator Tim Reed. This autobiographical film study of the life of the artist explores his experience from the time that he left his homeland of the United States of America to settle in Berlin and eventually become a naturalized German citizen.
Ceven Knowles was born in Tampa, Florida and grew up in New Orleans and Kansas City, enjoying the traditional American subculture of hippies, bikers and artists of the 1970s and ’80s. His first love was music. He played the piano and drums and enjoyed the early years of MTV with its continuous presentation of postmodernist music and short films. At the Kansas City Arts Institute he became aware of the New York City underground filmmakers of the ‘cinema of transgression’, including Richard Kern and Nich Zedd. He was inspired by their hard-hitting anarchic counter-culture and began to spend his time walking around with a VHS-format camcorder looking to film the life around him as it happened.
Unable to support the cost of being at art college he developed independently as a film-maker, finding strength and inspiration in the work of art house film-makers such as Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman and Federico Fellini. In 1998 he was asked by Kristie Alshaibi to direct a film called Green and Red that was a part of her school studies as a producer.
This was followed in 2000 by a full-length film made in Chicago called Other People’s Mirrors. The director of photography was Richard Bluestein, with whom Knowles went on to make films for his web site www.insanefilms.com and experiment with social media forums like www.livejournal.com.
He travelled to Berlin as a tourist in 2004 but after only a few days found that he had friends, a job, a place to live and was a part of Europe’s most creative and avante garde centre of arts. He was able to stay and became a naturalized German citizen in 2010.
Richard Bluestein visited him in Berlin in 2006 and their collaboration continued in experimentation and pioneering live internet broadcasting: podcasts and the series Andercast, which was a variety show with two or three episodes a week, made by an ensemble of performers and puppets who improvised humorous sketches exploring ideas in philosophy, sociology, documentary, geography, science, language, art and history as adult children.
Hinausgehen is a public screening of Ceven Knowles’ film on the north wall of Jönköping Läns Museum, which can be viewed from the street outside. The title and subject of this film have a witty relationship with the context of this performance. The viewer, like the artist, is away from home, outside the comfort and security of their familiar environment, experiencing unusual and new ideas, sounds and images.
It is an autobiographical work composed of film footage captured on a Sony Ericsson mobile telephone and a Sony Hi8 at moments during the artist’s first encounter with life in Berlin. Ceven Knowles sees the image as a record of the present rather than a reflection of the past and these captured moments of present time, through the manipulative process of film-making, invite optimistic feelings for the future.
The film is in three parts, in ‘sonata’ form: exposition, development and recapitulation: Part One Unter uns Kollegen, Part Two IMP and Part Three Wesen. This musical form of construction is informed by Knowles’ youthful passion for music and his understanding of the forms and processes of music-making.
The soundtrack of the first movement of this audio-visual sonata is the voice of Ceven Knowles himself trying, in faltering German and with a poor accent, to read a poem by the Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters. The captured images of the time combine with his efforts to come to terms with a new language and culture and the challenge of re-establishing and developing his creative work in a new environment.
A feeling of anticipation is key to the expression of this film. Ceven Knowles’ move from his homeland to a strange new environment engenders all kinds of anxieties and fears of change. But he moves forward with his camera to engage with this new environment in a creative way. By doing so he not only comes to terms with the unfamiliarity of his experience but sets his mind to an engagement with a future in that place. He carries his camera with him everywhere and captures new scenes: the Berlin U-Bahn, the Autobahn, the streets, the homes of his new friends. New images, colours, textures and sounds that he moulds into an account of his experience and, in his words: ‘marks the transition from one state to another’. With his camera he engages with present time and with the creative process of film-making he projects his energies into the future.
This individualized perception of time is the preserve of art of the moving image. Whereas the literary autobiography may seek to capture time past, Knowles seeks to project the present forward to sensations about the future.
The second part of Hinausgehen, is a developmental section which takes its inspiration for an essay ‘What is free improvisation?’. by the Swedish professor of philosophy, Dr Christian Munthe of the University of Gothenburg.
Crucially, the process of creating works of art through improvisation allows the artists to create work in present time without necessarily being constrained by constructs of the past. It gives the artist the feeling that the present can be invested in the future through creativity. This, in Hinausgehen, is a second manifestation of Ceven Knowles desire to cut away from his past and invest in a future in an unfamiliar place.
Words and phrases from Dr Christian Munthe’s essay are flashed on the screen like notes or reminders of ideas, actions and goals. These are, as with Part One, juxtaposed with images of Berlin manipulated into a colourful, abstract and personalized impression of Knowles’ experience.
The third movement of Hinausgehen was made after Ceven Knowles’ naturalization as German citizen. It marks the culmination of the process of transforming his identification with one culture to another. The mode of filming changes from topical documentary material to digitally created and digitally manipulated film of sculptural material. The mobile organic forms that create the images of the film are reminiscent both of the microbiotic forms of nature and the nebula-like forms of the macrocosm. In this sense Knowles seeks to unite the detail of present, and palpable experience, with time and matter in a universal context at the limits of human perception.
Internationell Konst Film Utställning, IKFU 2012, presents this film during the season of Advent: in the Christian calendar, the time of the midwinter solstice and St Lucia’s festival that celebrates the chasing away of darkness and bringing back the light. Cultures throughout the world have festivals of light at this time of year when there is little daylight and long periods of darkness: Diwali in the Hindu culture, Hanukkah in the Jewish culture, Saturnalia in Ancient Roman culture, Inti Rayami in Ancient Inca culture. Every culture in the history of mankind has focused on the fear of the dark and the desire for the return of the sun and springtime. It is a time when people minds become engaged with feelings for the future. Ceven Knowles relates to this awareness of the changing of seasons through his interest in Druidism. The celebration of light and colour that is manifest in this film on the north wall of the museum engages with this universal desire for life-affirming colour and light.