Christoph Girardet’s and Matthias Müller’s works almost always use found footage and operate at the intersection of cinema and visual art. Their film and video works function as distillations of cinematic history, using the principle of found footage to pose questions about the representational level of film imagery as well as to reflect on the methods of depiction and technological conditions of cinema as a medium. Not least, the snipped emotion in their works provide a substratum for our own desires, fears, dreams and projections.
Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller present:
Christoph Girardet Scratch, 2001, 5:00 min
A montage of record players and phonographs taken from various colour and black-and-white films. The original soundtracks have been replaced by the scratching sound heard at the end of records. Single rotations of the records are repeated over and over, the barely perceptible editing thus creating the skips on the records. The record players’ almost identical revolutions per minute create a rhythmic structure spanning the average length of a song – 4:45 min.
Matthias Müller Vacancy, 1998, 14:30 min
Brasília, the “city of hope”, “the ultimate utopia of the 20th century” (Umberto Eco), is being conserved as a cultural heritage today. It is a place as old as the filmmaker. Segments of amateur footage and of feature films shot on location in the early sixties are inserted in his 1998 travelogue. The utopian city as represented in Vacancy is a place abandoned from its inhabitants, a museum kept alive by its staff only.
Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller Locomotive, 2008, 3 channel video installation, 20:30 min
The history of cinema began with a train, and it is as if this train has been driving into film history ever since; as if destined to return unendingly, it crisscrosses the Lumière films and their ghost train journeys, it drives the phantom rides of early cinema and is then embraced with open arms by the avant-garde as one of the primary motifs of the cinématographe, a motif which, more than almost any other, allows us to engage with the modern experience of visuality. – Christa Blümlinger: Lumière, the Train and the Avant-Garde. Vienna, 2002
Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller, personne, 2016, 15:00 min
‘La reproduction interdite’, painted by Belgian surrealist René Magritte in 1937, is one of his most recognised works. We observe the rear view of a man looking in a mirror. Back to back – no face, no expression. The silent repetition of not knowing. The self cannot be verified by its reflection. Non-graspable. Girardet/Müller tell the story of the self via one of the heroes of European cinema: Jean-Louis Trintignant. He searches for an exit within closed spatial systems. The one becomes many, when his turning face becomes Fonda, Peck and once again Trintignant. The turn is a crucial moment of action in personne, belongs to the search, the gaze remains on the back, even when we look directly into Jean-Louis Trintignant’s eyes. If the man in ‘La reproduction interdite’ was to turn around, what would transpire? Fulfilment, redemption. ‘personne – that is somebody and nobody and anyone. That is us in the course of time. Persistently, in vain. The self is the need for permanent self-assertion‘, say Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet. The self begins to stir within the claustrophobic setting, in the rulebook of a vanished world. – Maike Mia Höhne, program brochure, Berlin International Film Festival, February 2016
Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller, Meteor, 2011, 15:00 min
Assembled from images taken from movies, uprooted fairy-tale moments, and vintage science-fiction motifs, Meteor stages the experiences and imaginary world of a boy at the threshold of self-discovery and disengagement. Fed by a child-like, media-stimulated imagination, a phantasmal voyage begins that takes us from the children’s room to an artificial cosmos.
Christoph Girardet (b. 1966 in Langenhagen, Germany) studied Fine Arts at the Braunschweig School of Art (Master’s degree in 1994). Since 1989 he has produced video tapes and video installations, some of them in collaboration with video artist Volker Schreiner beginning in 1994 and as of 1999 with filmmaker Matthias Müller. Girardet has participated in group shows at major institutions such as the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, and the Hirshhorn Museum Washington. Solo exhibitions of his work have taken place at institutions such as the Kunstverein Hannover, the Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; and the Kunsthalle Bielefeld. Girardet has taken part in major film festivals worldwide, including the festivals at Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto, Locarno, Oberhausen, and Rotterdam. His work is included in various public and private collections. He was awarded a stipend for the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York (2000) and the Villa Massimo stipend in Rome (2004). He lives and works in Hannover, Germany
Matthias Müller (b. 1961 in Bielefeld, Germany) studied Arts and German Literature at Bielefeld University and Fine Arts at the Braunschweig School of Art. (Master’s degree in 1991.) He has had film retrospectives at such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Center for the Arts, San Francisco, and Image Forum, Tokyo. Numbering among the awards he has received are the Preis der Deutschen Filmkritik, Preis des Verbandes der Deutschen Kritiker, and various prizes at international festivals. Müller has had solo exhibitions at such institutions as Tate Modern, London, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, and Campagne Première, Berlin. Among the group exhibitions he has participated in are the Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana as well as exhibitions at the Migros Museum, Zurich, Hayward Gallery, London, and Haus der Kunst, Munich. Works by Matthias Müller are held in the collections, among others, of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the collection of Isabelle & Jean-Conrad Lemaître, London, and Tate Modern, London. Since 2003, Müller has been a professor for experimental film at the Kunsthochschule für Medien, Cologne.
Girardet and Müller have been successfully collaborating since their found footage work, Phoenix Tapes, a high-profile contribution to Notorious – Alfred Hitchcock and Contemporary Art at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art in 1999. Phoenix Tapes was premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. The artists’ work has been screened at the film festivals of Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Rotterdam, Toronto, New York, Oberhausen, Vila do Conde, and many others. It has gained various awards, including the Marler VideoKunstPreis, the Prix Canal+ du meilleur court métrage in Cannes, the German Federal Film Award (Deutscher Kurzfilmpreis), and the Premio Principado de Asturias al Mejorcortometraje of the Gijón International Film Festival. It has been exhibited at major art institutions worldwide, such as the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Bozar – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Tate Modern, London, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, and EYE Institute, Amsterdam. Their joint projects are held in public collections such as, among others, Marta, Herford; Goetz Collection, Munich; Collécción Sánchez Ubiría, Madrid, and Kunsthalle Bielefeld.