By Pamela Cohn
In the introduction to her handbook called Direct Approach, Danish artist and filmmaker Stine Marie Jacobsen states that: “Narrating a film scene is a complicated process of constructing a story from thousands of components. A film scene recalled from memory invariably consists of different memories, the participant’s own world view, and their personal identification with the characters involved.”
Filmmakers and artists who use elements of documentary filmmaking in their work – individually, and as a community – pride themselves on being adept at traversing across underground sectors that are still largely perceived as taboo to the general society in one way or another. Usually this has something to do with sex, but not always. While some of us might fancy that we’re more sophisticated and open-minded than most, we all have our distinctive no-fly zones.
In this series of interviews, I wanted to shine a light on three artists – a Czech, a German and a Dane – that use cinematic language in a very straightforward way. These works are hand-made, pared-down to their essence, pure portraiture – but with a twist or two, like all good yarns that lull you into thinking you’ll be hearing the same familiar tale. In much of this work, I see a kind of miracle happen where it’s clear that the right storyteller met the right protagonist – or, perhaps, the better word to use here is collaborator – and, together, they create something life changing for all involved through this particular kind of witnessing, using a camera and finely-honed storytelling skills as the agent for some kind of transformation that otherwise may not have been possible. (Special thanks to, and appreciation for, my extensive talks with filmmakers Jesse Moss and Henry Corra, among many others, for helping to stoke this ongoing investigation/obsession).