Art and Power:
The DEFA Film Library is very pleased to premiere the complete cinematic oeuvre of German filmmaker and media artist Lutz Dammbeck in North America. ART & Power: Lutz Dammbeck, a retrospective that includes 21 short and full-length films made from 1975 to 2018, gives audiences the opportunity to discover one of Germany’s most innovative contemporary artists, whose work intertwines film and art in bold and unexpected ways.
The retrospective includes documented performance and media collages, animated films, experimental films and documentaries. All are linked to one another and to the overarching questions that have intrigued Dammbeck throughout his career: the relationship between art and power; the artist’s role in society; art in relation to political networks and movements; and the role and influence of new technologies.
From the 1970s through the mid-1980s, Dammbeck’s art projects were crucial and powerful contributions to East Germany’s alternative art scene. At first he focused on animated films, which he produced as a freelance artist for the state-owned East German DEFA Studios. These groundbreaking films differed in style and content from the studios’ other animation productions; controversial at the time, they are now part of international animation history. Dammbeck also made his own independent short films; breaking with officially imposed artistic limitations, these are experiments in non-camera animation and other elements of film as a medium. His search for new conceptual ground culminated in spectacular exhibition concepts—which involved collaborations with artists in different fields and media—and in his unique media collage series focusing on the heroic/tragic figure of Hercules, whose identity and modern role Dammbeck has explored in his art and films since the late 1970s.
In 1986, after official interference in his work and many other obstacles, Dammbeck left the GDR for West Germany. This transition to a new political and cultural system did not make a deep break in his career; while continuing work on existing projects, he sought new inspirations that would allow him to dive even deeper into his themes and motifs. The series of full-length documentaries that Dammbeck has made since the early 1990s brings these themes and motifs together in intriguing, mature and provocative explorations of underlying political, artistic and technological social systems.
We are honored and extremely grateful to Lutz Dammbeck for giving us the opportunity to include his rich cinematic oeuvre in our collection and for his trust that his work will be in good hands with us. We would also like to thank all the sponsors and partners involved in the fall 2019 US tour for helping to make possible this stimulating encounter with Lutz Dammbeck’s films. And a special thanks goes to Seth Howes (University of Missouri) for sharing his valuable expertise.
We hope you enjoy the screenings!
Hiltrud Schulz (Retrospective Curator)
and the DEFA Film Library team
Check out venue websites for the dates the director will be present
September 19-24 University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA
September 25-27 Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
September 25-30 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
October 3 German International School, Portland, OR
October 7 + 9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
October 8 Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
This retrospective is supported by DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; the DEFA-Stiftung, Berlin, Germany; the program Wunderbar Together: Germany and the U.S. and all our partners in the tour.
Special thanks to the following:
Our tour partners: Yvonne P. Behrens (Portland German Film Festival), Benita Blessing (Oregon State University), Kurt E. Fendt (MIT), Seth Howes (University of Missouri), Daniel Kojo Schrade (Hampshire College), Jennifer Kuchta (Boston Latin School), Carol M. Johnson (Amherst Cinema), Raleigh Joyner (Goethe-Institut Washington), Elizabeth Mittman (Michigan State University), Karin Oehlenschläger (Goethe-Institut Boston), Margaret Parsons (National Gallery of Art), Blake Peters (German International School), Jed Rapfogel (Anthology Film Archives) and Evan Torner (University of Cincinnati).
Our production partners: Niklas Bräuner and Jasper Brandt (cinepostproduction.de), Ayse Akgün and Swantje Glock (ffs-subtitling.de), Detlef Helmbold (zenon design), Boris Karnowski-Janzen (enteractive.de) and Barbara Scharfe (durchblickreisen.de).
The ART & POWER: LUTZ DAMMBECK tour was organized by the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
English subtitles: Skyler Arndt-Briggs, Hiltrud Schulz, Victoria Rizo Lenshyn | Film Material Rentals: Kevina King, Katrin Bahr | Curation and Organization: Hiltrud Schulz