later project | prior project | Kanzelwand

Film Description:

The dead of night. 2000 meters high atop the Austrian mountain Kanzelwand. Dozens of professional skiers and snowboarders. These are the ingredients for the multi-format film Kanzelwand performance 01. Throughout the 3 ½ minute looped film, small groups of skiers and snowboarders perform choreographed maneuvers that emulate the elaborately staged and highly recognizable synchronized swimming scenes from the famous Esther Williams' Hollywood films of the 40s and 50s.

Juxtaposed with the surreal performance scenes - synced with the original musical score - are beauty shots of the surrounding nighttime mountain landscapes lit with powerful HMI film lights. The end result is the odd spectacle of nature and Hollywood coming together in a symbiotic yet opposing form.


Kanzelwand performance 01 is a new project in collaboration with screenwriter and film director Ron Kanecke, in which I continue my investigation into landscapes as I did in Secluded Nights 2003 – 2004 and Island of times – 2007 – current. In Kanzelwand performance 01, I take this exploration further by delving into the idea of the history of tourism and the large-scale push towards making nature commercially accessible for people living in urban and suburban environments. In my estimation, before one can really understand and visualize the history of tourism, one must start by looking at the history of the building of the American parkway system, and how it has made it easy for people from urban centers to end up in national parks via scenic drives.

Nature has become a commodity along with the car and has propagated recreational time out from the urban center. The film, which is the brainchild of Ron Kanecke and I, establishes its mood by lighting the Kanzelwand ski slopes in the Austrian alps with high powered Hollywood film lights. Within the 3 ½ minute multi-format, looped film, professional skiers and snowboarders re-create choreography which references the large-scale performances of 50’s Hollywood movies--specifically the famous synchronized swimming scenes of Esther Williams. The lavish setting, the large-scale cast of performers and the original score from those bygone films create a narrative that investigates the massive waves of people using landscapes for recreational purposes and the idea of how we utilize nature.

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