Please look at me, and smile

Laura Engelhardt, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Video Screenings: Tang Han, Laura Engelhardt, Ivar Veermäe and Xandra Popescu

x-embassy presents four video works by relating to the production of identity via the mediated gaze of the camera.

Like a mirror, recording devices can be deployed to socialise, distill, crystallise, warp or subvert how we see ourselves. What kind of superhero avatars do we make of ourselves under the artificial gaze of the camera, traced by the ear of the microphone? What kinds of dialogues, misunderstandings, and identities are produced when this artifice is internalised? PLEASE LOOK AT ME, AND SMILE presents four positions:

Tang Han’s ‘Pretties Make Up!’ (2017) is a short filmic montage of her childhood drawings and the transformation of the Sailor Moon manga cartoon, marking the progress of a child’s projection of gender as she teaches herself to draw. An avatar of a different kind will guide us through Laura Engelhardt’s ‘Die Forschungsfrage ist fest’ (2017), a critical documentation of the use of 3D imaging and ‘biological cybernetics’ as Max Planck Institute scientists attempt to investigate the human perception of self, body and space. ‘Name’ (2012) is a 6 minute-long investigation into the naming of commercial enterprises in Berlin and a series of vignettes in which Ivar Veermäe and his microphone provoke multilingual (mis)communications with their conversation partners. They get there in the end (mostly). Finally, in ‘You Are Safe With Me’ (2015), conceived by Xandra Popescu in collaboration with Adrian Knuppertz and produced by Larisa Crunţeanu, two female voices coming from behind the camera call the shots, while male bodies – at times delighted, at times squirming under the camera – dance, stretch and demonstrate the use of weapons upon command:

“Flex one of your arms.”
“Raise your other arm.”
“Please look at me, and smile.”

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