Erik Schmidt’s films – his trilogy Hunting Grounds, Bogged Down and Gatecrasher – likewise weave together the different media of painting, photography and film in the most complex of ways; every film still is a perfectly composed, painterly photograph. Schmidt’s films operate with the mutual interference of media, deliberately placed breaks heightening the effect still further. In much the same way as he begins work on his paintings, Schmidt gathers impressions and images as he walks through his chosen film settings and then develops them into open narrative forms.
Performative play is here the essence of Erik Schmidt’s art: he himself acts as the protagonist of his films, passing in almost sleepwalking fashion through hunting scenes, a festive dinner party or a society dance in the aristocratic circles of Eastern Westphalia without stopping even once or giving a clear indication as to the direction the film’s story is to take.
There is no script. All the players in his films must take part in the same unpredictable production process. Schmidt’s beginnings as an artist in Berlin in the 1990s, his early performances and Pop art activities, come out most clearly in this process.
A constant calling into question of his status as an artist runs like a thread through Erik Schmidt’s oeuvre. In his film trilogy, for example, he explicitly concerns himself with the figure of the bourgeois artist and creates a symbolic framework of references that allude to the historical relationship between the aristocracy and the artist, simultaneously heightening and ironizing it to the extreme through the theatrical mise-en-scène. Some of the film scenes show the artist alone in the library, surrounded by precious books and paintings; in the scenes in the forest he switches roles from that of the hunter to that of the hunted. It is against the background of these clichés and symbolic images, and through their superimposition and demarcation, that Schmidt interrogates the present-day role of the artist and draws comparisons between different social worlds. – Sonja Claser
Erik Schmidt presents:
I Love my hair, 1997, 10:15 min
Parking, 2001, 8:12 min
Gatecrasher, 2010, 13:04 min
Bogged Down, 2010, 15:55 min
Hunting Grounds, 2006, 14:16 min
Erik Schmidt (b. 1968 in Herford, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. He has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Marta Herford (2007) and at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg (2011). His films were shown in festivals such as Videonale.11, Kunstmuseum Bonn, German (2007) and National Museum of Fine Art, Taichung, Taiwan (2011)
Erik Schmidt’s web site: www.erikschmidt.info