Klaus vom Bruch
The Propeller Tape (remastered version)
1979/2018, 30:36 min
Day 1, Screening 6
15 Dec 2018, 22:00

In his early work, vom Bruch undertakes a compelling inquiry into contemporary (postwar) German identity in relation to history and collective memory. Here he exercises his signature formal strategy of switching rapidly between two tape sources, one recorded and one live, to achieve a powerful visual metaphor, collapsing the historical and the personal, the past and the present. The imagery is also a vom Bruch signature: A repetitive fragment of a World War II archival film of war machines is sharply interrupted with flash-frame images of the artist's face. Documentary film footage of ground personnel starting the propeller of an American B-17 bomber is repeated in a tightly edited, rhythmic structure. The obsessive repetition and fragmentation of the young soldiers lifting the propellers renders their action an exercise in frustration. The tape's hypnotic tension is heightened by the unexpected insertions of the present -- the self-portraits of the artist as young hero -- into this representation of the mythic past. The length of the video is not only a test of the viewer¹s patience, but also alters the impact of the visuals. A one-time event becomes a Sisyphus-like key scene throwing light on the relation between body and machine, and the links of the latter with the war machinery.