In recent years Martin Brand has carried out a number of projects based on observations and reflections about social and political developments and situations. His works often range between documentation and fiction, between chance observation and deliberate staging. Topics such as youth culture, the search for identity, orientation on role models, influence by mass media and advertising, the establishment of cliques and in-groups, violence, hierarchies and mechanisms within groups are central to his work.
Martin Brand presents:
Pit Bull Germany (excerpt), 2004, 3:00 min
The video installation entitled Pit Bull Germany shows a series of video portraits of adolescents belonging to different groups such as skinheads, gabbers, punks and gothics. Prior to filming, the adolescents were instructed to look into the camera in a concentrated manner for the duration of two minutes while allowing as little distraction as possible to take place. Almost every teen who steps in front of the camera is identifiable as being part of a certain youth-culture by his/her outfit. Through intense examination of the portraits, cracks and deviances in the presented identity-constructions become visible at a surprisingly fast rate. It is often particularly the adolescents’ gaze through which the insecuritites become noticeable. For this project, approximately 80 video portraits were created, of which no more than half are utilized, depending on the projection possibilities on site.
Remote, 2007, 12:30 min
An unfamiliar apartment, some skater kids in the park, as well as people and situations randomly observed on the street form the background in front of which Remote takes place. The observing and the cinematic or photographic recording of persons give rise to a personal, essay-like approach to an unknown city. Unfamiliar moments and those of exciting confrontation with new surroundings, yet also feelings of self-doubt and loneliness are made apparent through the interspersed comments of a speaker. As an observer of the video, one soon believes to be following the thoughts of the artist filming, although doubts about the direct authenticity of spoken words are appropriate.
Rebel Rebel, 2012, 22:45 min
The 2-channel video installation Rebel Rebel is based on documentary type footage of the Metal- and Deathcore scene of 2011 and 2012 around the musician David Beule. The artist’s ten film sequences portray situations out of the life, work and environment of the musician. Even though the camera closes in, the contemplation of the work remains distant and observing. Fascinated by the shimmer of elaborate tattoos, the full on life style and extreme musical expressions, the eye loses itself continually in details only in the next moment to regain a distance which releases the personality lying behind the images.
Driver, 2005, 6:36 min
An apparently bored girl is standing together with her clique, on the side of a bumper car ride, watching the events. The disco-like lighting, the use of fog machines, while people and bumper cars are passing by in front, all result in an incessantly pulsating and changing image. After some initial searching, the camera finds its motif and adheres to it – exposing for seconds the emotions and insecurities hidden behind the adolescents’ cool appearance. The applied camera zoom enables an approach and maintains a distance at the same time. It opens a way of reading, which talks about the difficulties of a boy standing at a distance trying to approach the girl. The girl acting aloof, meets the observing male glance, whose owner is afraid to let down his guard. The level of sound, with its increasingly over modulated and contorted, loop-like recurring basic motif, finds its equivalent both within the glaring and flickering light of the disco-like situation, as well as within the intense “screaming for attention“ appearance of the adolescents.
Station, 2005, 14:52 min
The documentary work entitled Station shows an adolescent clique from the train station scene in Bochum – how it first meets at the train station and then together goes to someone’s house. There, one hangs out, listens to music and smokes weed. A rightist-rock band plays for a while, and one assumes to be confronted with rightist teenagers at their best. Shortly hereafter, the ambivalence of the situation becomes clear when one of the adolescents – the ‘leader’ – says, “…we’re leftist man, and are listenin’ to this fascist music […] I’ll put in somethin’ better. No fascist tunes, I can’t handle that right now. Later sure, but not now!” Skirmishes of this kind obviously serve more as a pastime than a serious dispute about ideological questions. What becomes clear, however, is the general lack of orientation. The film shows the events in an almost casual manner, it does not comment or judge. The nearly imperceptible camera, which almost naturally accompanies the teenages, reveals hierarchies, behaviors and clique strutures.
Martin Brand (b. 1975 in Bochum, Germany) studied art and German philology in Bochum and Dortmund until 2002. He lives and works in Cologne. Brand’s works have been shown at numerous exhibitions and festivals; he has been awarded scholarships and positions as artist in residence, and in 2006 received the funding award of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for young artists. In conjunction with his current solo exhibition at the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (until July 7), the catalogue “Ricochet #6 Martin Brand”, a selective presentation of his work up to the time, was published.
Martin Brand’s web site: www.martinbrand.com