“Into the Unknown” is a film edited from material sourced from the E-TV archive, specifically footage from films produced by DEFA in the former-DDR. In the images there is everyday life of East Berliners documented over the course of 20 years (with a high proportion of footage from the 1970s and 1980s). The everyday scenes are of both the city and countryside, close-ups of people when they are relaxing, and hard at work, and of big crowds at an official outdoor gathering. The interior views are of private and public spaces. The images are suggestive of the ordering of the people’s lives. Individuals are squeezed into strict social systems. The images, originally made to promote socialist way of living, show us how “well balanced” the socialist lifestyle was.
By re-editing different clips of films and mixing up the soundtracks I wanted to bring back a certain “existential weight” to those cinematic representations of archetypical socialist protagonists. Old workers, young pupils, concerned doctors and nurses are all fragile human beings, vulnerable to the flow of time. The flow washed away the system – twenty years ago. Even though many of the people in the film are still alive, their archetypal visualisation has changed, and only exists in the films produced by DEFA. The images have disappeared, their style is ephemeral. Is this problem only specific to that system of “state socialism”?
In the soundtrack there are several English language voiceovers. The sound is collected from a range of documentaries from the period and not necessary linked with the footage. Some sentences are taken from Czech film Vyzva do Ticha [Challenge in Silence, 1965].
The text expresses people’s complicated relationships with their environment. Constant internal monitoring and censorship of speech and politically correct behaviour provoked a mild-schizophrenia in a number of citizens. Nevertheless, the superimposed normality and highly organised life, depicted in the DDR film footage, reflects an ideal, or, an exemplary view of life. I consider it the creation of a cinematic standard which is attractive, when removed from the political context of the period. I believe that the introduction of the troubling, non-synchronized voiceovers, interrupt this idealised cinematic view, to evoke a tension and sense of irritation within the imagery of this historic period – which is yet to disappear from cultural circulation (Deimantas Narkevicius). —gbagency.fr
Deimantas Narkevičius is an artist and filmmaker born in 1964 in Utena, currently based in Vilnius. He graduated sculpture at Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts and spent a year in London in 1992/93, which affected his later interest in site-specific art and concern with the concept of place in a broader discursive sense.
Since the late Nineties he mostly works in film and video, experimenting with the film structure and thematizing the weight of subjective memories and personal revisions of the History. As the artist has himself stated a number of times, his films in a certain way are extended sculptures, not only closely adjusted to the physical sites of their installation, but also thematically departing from very specific personal circumstances or experiences. Nevertheless, working in different film formats, often inserting fragments of other media – drawing, found photograph and footage into his films, Narkevičius expands temporal and spatial boundaries of his narratives. With… read more