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Clemens von Wedemeyer

Leaving (Otjesd), Germany, 2005

16 mm transferred to video, 15 min

Courtesy of the artist and Wolff Gallery, Paris

Clemens von Wedemeyer is a young German artist whose work exists at the juncture of cinematic art and plastic arts. His films address both the classical cinematography and burning social-political issues, and historic events.

The name of the piece, “Odjesd” (Leavers), is a term used in the communist Soviet Union as a polite term for “emigration”. The camera follows a young girl moving in an undefined forested space, while trying to pass a security check-point at which lines of people are waiting. Occasionally a voice is heard giving instructions in Russian through a megaphone. Being shot in a forest, and not a formal border crossing, the search, the lack of direction and circular journey executed by the protagonist of the film lend it the air of a dream or nightmare.

This Kafkaesque situation of a struggle against bureaucracy does apparently have a purpose: to pass from East to West. However, the line in the film leads nowhere, and its situation in the twilight region between East and West and between poor and rich, a transition marked by the bureaucratic queue, turn it into a state of mind of waiting and anticipation, which characterises any place in contemporary culture:

“What are “monuments” in this era? They are no longer the carved arch, the monumental avenue strewn with regal buildings, but the boredom, the monumental waiting for services in front of the devices, means of communication and telecommunication before which each of us does his best while waiting. The lines at the toll-booths on super highways, the flight captain’s computerised lists, late night tuning of computer and television terminals… this is an active wilderness in which each by each is exiled into private life (in French the term also means “deprived/dark lives”) (Paul Virilio, Critical Space, Tel Aviv, 2006.)