Maybe this act, this work, this thing by Joachim Koester (2016)

Joachim Koester, ‘Maybe this act, this work, this thing’, 2016. Courtesy the artist, Greene Naftali Gallery and Jan Mot.

Maybe this act, this work, this thing, 2016, conveys the advent of cinema through the bodies of vaudeville performers. Mimicking the apparatus of a new world that threatens their livelihood as stage actors, they simulate shutters of cameras and projectors, quivering electricity and the whirring celluloid. Their movements are amplified by the sounds of their heels hoofing, limbs shuffling and voices muttering with a sense of desperate urgency that echoes the cultural revolution that dawned with the film industry.

Performers Boglarka Börcsök & Zeina Hanna
Cinematographer Adam Jandrup
Light Adam Jandrup & Artur Castro Freire
Sound recording Irvic D’Olivier & Marie Paulus
Choreography & assistant director Liz Kinoshita
Costume, make up & hair Anne-Catherine Kunz & Marie Messien
Film set design & construction Søren Assenholt & Herman Sorgeloos
Data handler Loup Brenta
Production manager Jesse Van Bauwel, Marie Logie & Rebecca Jane Artur
Editing Joachim Koester & Lui Mokrzycki
Sound editing & mixing Stefan A. Pedersen
Color grading Ulrik Heltoft
Produced by Auguste Orts
Co-commissioned by Camden Arts Centre & Bergen Kunsthall
Supported by Beckett-Fonden, Danish Arts Foundation, Knud Højgaards Fond, On & For Production, Statens Kunstfond & STUK | House for Dance, Image and Sound
Thanks to STUK team Wieter Bloemen, Laura Delaere, Ilse Van Essche, Bregt Janssens, Richard Kerkhofs, Neal Van Pee, Karen Verschooren and Sven Augustijnen, Michel Balague, Ellen Blumenstein, Gina Buenfeld, Martin Clark, Jenni Lomax, Anna Manubens, Maxim-Jo Beck McGosh, Jan Mot & Morten Søkilde

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The film is set in the late 1890’s. The set could be a theater, an apartment or a distinct “psychic architecture.” In this setting a group of Vaudeville performers are rehearsing an act. They are channeling the spirit(s) of the newly developed cinematic apparatus, miming the machine, embodying the machine. As the spirit(s) enter they are transformed into cogs and wheels and moving belts. The grinding momentum of their movements creates a sense of extended urgency. Their movements are accompanied by occasional moaning; like squeaks of metal and sizzling of hard rubber. This is a truly revolutionary technology. The Vaudeville actors “fall” into poses like old photographs that have suddenly come alive. Great holes are poked in space and time. These are the holes they try to slip through in their attempt to utilize the forces unleashed.


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Joachim Koester, Maybe this act, this work, this thing, 2016 (video still). Courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery and Jan Mot

Joachim Koester (b.1962, Copenhagen) lives and works between New York and Copenhagen. He has exhibited widely, with solo shows at Turner Contemporary, Margate (2016); Forum Eugénio de Almeida, Evora, Portugal (2015); Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (2012); Kunsthal Carlottenborg, Copenhagen (2012); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2010); The Power Plant, Toronto (2010); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007); Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (2000) and PS1 (project space), New York (1999) among others. Selected group exhibitions include: The Crime Was Almost Perfect, Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2014); From the Collection, S.M.A.K, Ghent (2014); Prospectif Cinema, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); Habitar el tiempo, Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2014); and ARKTIS, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2013). Koester’s work has also been exhibited in numerous biennales including the Taipei Biennal (2012); Manifesta 7, Trento, Italy (2008); Sharjah Biennale (2007); the Venice Biennale, Slovenian and Danish Pavilions (2006, 2005 respectively) and Documenta 10 (1997).

Aesthetica Magazine