Bettina Nürnberg & Dirk Peuker
Elephant Bearing an Obelisk
2018, 15:00 min
Day 1, Screening 7
15 Dec 2018, 23:30

Marbled paper blue, a book’s illustrations, the flicker of film’s materiality: these are just a few of the narrative devices that punctuate Bettina Nürnberg and Dirk Peuker’s essayist film tracing the atmospheric efects of Italian architect Carlo Scarpa’s significant buildings, including the Brion family cemetery. As homage the work continues the filmmakers’ interests in documenting architectural histories. What is significant about this more poetic rendering is how it follows the rhythm of the spatial forms and motifs of their subject: Scarpa took an apolitical stance and refused to make architecture during the reign of fascism in Italy (1922–43); in the years that followed however, he produced Venice’s modernist exemplars, arguably the most beautiful architectural works of modernism for how they create mental spaces embedded in and indebted to his phenomenal city. With awareness of their medium, Nürnberg and Peuker capture both the structure and free- forming style of Scarpa’s architecture: their camera is equally focused on the mood of the city, the flow of water, the mandala as dichotomous form—light casts shadows. In turn, the film oscillates between document and experimental realism. The punctuating book pages that were an inspiration for Scarpa and ofer a structuring means for the sensuality of the recorded images come from the Venetian treatise of 1499 ascribed to Poliphili, which loosely acts an inventory of life-forms and classical humanist thought while following the story of courtly love. The act of ceremony is important to the book and so it is to the film as it mediates on Scarpa’s constructions, anachronistic zones that cross life with death, only to return to life once more: the film flickers, the paper is left wet, a hand all blue rises from the ruins ... (Laura Preston)