Ulla von Brandenburg

Ulla von Brandenburg
Photo 1: Ulla von Brandenburg, The Record, 2005 - 2014, collection Frac Franche-Comté, © Ulla von Brandenburg - Photos 2-4: Ulla von Brandenburg, Le milieu est bleu, 2020, collection Frac Franche-Comté, © Ulla von Brandenburg

The Record, 2005-2014

Video: original super-8 film transferred to digital file, black and white, sound, video projection, 58''.

Work presented as part of the exhibition Echos d'une collection - Works by Frac Franche-Comté

In a short scene from L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934), Michel Simon runs his finger over the circles of a record over and over again, and to his surprise, an accordion tune comes out every time. What's actually being played by the barge's sailor, still off-screen? A handful of years after the advent of sound, Ulla von Brandenburg offers her version of this little game about the origin of music in cinema, eighty years later.

Here, the scene takes place outdoors. On the actor's body, as on the quilt suspended behind him, are projected the shadows of branches. Shot in Canada in 2005, it was not until 2014 that the artist finalized the work, adding a piano melody composed and performed by herself.

The reference to Jean Vigo's film, the use of quilts (it was during the shooting that Ulla von Brandenburg discovered this quilting technique made from several layers of fabric, which she would later use in a series of projects), the two-stage production of the work (image then sound), all evoke cinema as an artificial, constructed object. Right down to the title itself.

The middle is blue, 2020

Video installation: bench; video, color, sound, video projection

Super 16 mm video film and sound transferred to HD digital file for video projection 23'43''

Courtesy of the artist and Art : Concept (Paris) ; Meyer Riegger (Berlin/Karlsruhe) ; Pilar Corrias Gallery (London) ; Produzentengalerie Hamburg

Work presented as part of the exhibition Echos d'une collection - Works by Frac Franche-Comté

Once again, Ursula von Brandenburg blurs the boundaries between film, theater, storytelling and life itself. The artist chose to work with the Théâtre du Peuple, in Bussang in the Vosges, whose motto, inscribed on the stage frame, is "Through art for humanity". She films actors and dancers, "like a group of inviduals who have withdrawn and settled in this place". The characters engage in craft activities, making quilts and dolls in their own image, and playing with ribbons.

It's both the preparation for a ritual, the ritual itself, and a tale of transformation and emancipation, as one of the characters - the woman who seems "unstuck" - opens the doors to the forest and takes the group into the wild, to a nomadic life without walls. Singing and dancing are clearly part of the process. In addition to a nod to Joseph Beuys' performance Ja, Ja, Ja, Ja, Nee, Nee, Nee, Nee, Nee, the sung text is inspired by the play Le Poisson des grands fond (Der Tiefseefisch, 1930), by Marieluise Fleisser (1901-1974).

The film Le milieu est bleu was the centerpiece of the exhibition of the same name at Toyko Palace in 2020. The theatrical scenography deployed in the halls was an extension of the film, and actors from the Théâtre du Peuple regularly performed in the halls.

In partnership with Théâtre du peuple, Bussang, CND, Centre national de la danse and Opéra national de Paris

Ulla von Brandenburg

Born in 1974 in Karlsruhe

Lives and works in Nogent-l'Artaud (Aisne) and Paris

Trained as a set designer, Ulla von Brandeburg worked for only a short time in the theater before entering the Fine Arts School in Hamburg. She found greater creative freedom in the visual arts, exploiting a wide variety of techniques and media, from watercolor to film, collage to installation, often with an important role for dance, music and song. She has retained from her early training an ability to seize exhibition spaces and transform them according to her own vision, mainly through the use of large, colorful fabrics.

These sails, often salvaged from theaters or opera houses, recycled from one installation to the next, enable him to build a flexible architecture, imbued with a memory, a history, as close to the human as possible. The idea of décor is essential, linked to its reversibility and fluidity. Ulla von Brandenburg deploys an art of emancipation. She invites us to traverse mental spaces. Her use of timeless rituals and the codes of theater and cinema enable her to question our social structures and the way we fit into them.

His art is inhabited by figures of modernity, from Johannes Itten to Bertold Brecht, by way of the pioneers of cinema and psychoanalysis, but also by folk tales and the history of utopias.

Ulla von Brandeburg has been teaching at the Academy of Visual Arts in Karlsruhe since 2016.

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