Sandra Schäfer’s artistic practice deals with the production of urban and geopolitical space, history, and visual politics. Her works are often based on long-term research concerned with the process of unfolding and re-reading documents, images, and spatial narratives.
Sandra Schäfer will show:
The Making of a Demonstration, 2004, 10 min
The film focuses on the reenactment of a women’s demonstration against the employment ban introduced by the Taliban in 1996. The shots were taken in the streets of Kabul during the shooting of the Afghan feature film Osama in November 2002. One thousand women came to act in this scene. Although the demonstration is a reenactment of a demonstration, it shows a glimpse of the political reality of these women. All protagonists were, without exception, played by individuals who experienced (and experience) what they portray. Their demand for work in the film reflects their present situation: the fact that they act in this demonstration means that they’re able to work, and, furthermore, to demonstrate.
A country’s new dawn, 2001, 5min
The theme park Millennium Dome was one of the most spectacular projects of the year 2000 in Great Britain. According to the British neoliberal policy, it was meant to mark the beginning of a new Millennium. At the 31st of December 2000, after one year of running, the by now biggest event center of Great Britain closes down. The political entanglements in the preliminary stages of the project are serious. The financial deficit is running into millions. The Millennium Dome becomes the by now biggest auction event of the country. The auction company Henry Butcher disposes the exhibition items in a big tent next to the Dome, while the inner architecture under the cupola is taken to pieces. The inner of the Dome is completely taken apart, only the cupola remains. The Millennium Dome as a national and neoliberal symbol remains as an ephemeral manifest.
Notes on Pasolini’s Form of a City, 2013, 25 min
The dual projection explores Pasolini’s research into the form of city in small towns in Italy, which he compared with Sana’a in Yemen or Sabaudia, a ‘new town’ on the Pontine Marshes reclaimed under Mussolini. In the colonisation process, the settlement structure of these small colonial towns on the drained marshland near Rome was also echoed in Libya and Eritrea. In 1932, Mussolini ruthlessly pushed through his plan to construct the Via dell’Impero in Rome, creating a straight line connecting key classical monuments, the Colosseum and his seat of government. In the course of colonialisation, the objective was to create fictive lines of continuity forging links to the ancient Roman Empire and its architectural heritage.
I have borrowed Pasolini’s approach of visual notes to draft a sketch on the form of the city on the basis of his Appunti. In this process, I create a new montage of excerpts from Pasolini’s films, comment on them, and expand them with new material.
Mleeta, 2016, 11 min
‘Mleeta’ was filmed and staged on location at the ‘Museum of Resistance’ in Lebanon. During the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon (1982-2000), Mleeta Mountain stood right in the middle of the occupied zone. Thirty-five kilometers from Israel to the south and forty kilometers from Syria to the east, the mountain served as a haven for Hezbollah fighters, making it the site of real battles as well.
The summit of Mleeta is now home to the ‘Museum of Resistance’, a propagandistic re-enactment that reproduces scenic and military scenarios. Set up in the style of a theme park, visitors assume the role of both observer and performer. An auditorium screens lavishly-produced films that dramatically tell the history of the past battles, while guns and other weapons are integrated into the museum’s architecture.
The installation ‘Mleeta’ explores this theme park’s script with its perspectives, stagings, and narratives, with a focus on the creation of affective perception.
Constructed Futures: Haret Hreik, 2017, 28 min
The Shiite dominated neighborhood Haret Hreik in Beirut houses the headquarters of the Hezbollah Party, invisible to the outside. In 2006 the Israeli Army bombarded the neighborhood, which Hezbollah then quickly rebuilt. This rebuilding project is part of a military conflict and a geopolitical network in which architecture takes part in the production of space, landscape, and memory. The video shows offices where the reconstruction was planned and designed, one of the rebuilt houses itself, as well as a hall where Hezbollah sympathizers regularly gather to attend video addresses by the party leader Hassan Nasrallah. What does it mean when new buildings are meant to be added without rupture or break into the existing urban structure and into individual memories? How has the interpretation of resistance by Hezbollah become a dominant project that is manifest spatially? What does building mean if it leaves no room for ruins and commemoration, because it thinks in a logic of brief intervals of warlessness?
Sandra Schäfer (b. 1970 in Altenkirchen, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. 1991-1998 she studied fine arts, politics and sociology at Universität Kassel, 1995/96 at Slade School of Fine Arts, University College, London, 1999-2004 at Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe (post graduate scholarship in media art and film). In 2000 Sandra Schäfer held the European media artist in residence, Artec, London.
From 2010 to 2012 Schäfer participated in the interdisciplinary research project “The Urban Cultures of Global Prayers”, which was initiated by metroZones, the House of World Cultures, and Viadrina European University. Her works have been exhibited at the Berlinale, Berlin; mumok, Vienna; Depo, Istanbul; La Virreina, Barcelona; National Gallery of Art, Vilnius; Camera Austria, Graz; House of World Cultures, Berlin; and Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologien (ZKM), Karlsruhe. Schäfer’s practice also involves curating film and lecture programmes. In 2003, together with Jochen Becker and Madeleine Bernstorff, she curated the film festival “Kabul/Tehran 1979ff: Film Landscapes, Cities under Stress and Migration” at Volksbühne Berlin and Filmkunsthaus Babylon. In 2006, a book with the same title was published by b_books, Berlin. Schäfer is an associated member of the feminist film distributor Cinenova in London. Together with Karolin Meunier, Kerstin Schroedinger, Marina Vishmidt, and other members of the Cinenova Working Group, she curated the “Select and Dispossess” festival at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna in 2013.