Christoph Schäfer

February 11th - March 15th, 2003

Christoph Schäfer, 2000
16 mm, 19'

Since the mid-1990's, Schäfer has been working in the Park Fiction project, in
collaboration with citizens, architects, sociologists, fellow artists, and
through a number of initiatives, in order to go ahead with the construction of a
park in the St. Pauli quarter, in Hamburg. The project was presented last year
in the Documenta 11. This public park was eventually imposed politically,
paralysing a high-cost private project to build a residence area on the
site. Thanks to citizens' participation, their ideas an desires regarding their
public space have been realised and included. Thus, ParkFiction realises the
utopia of a "democratic" park.

Utopia is also the subject of Revolution Non Stop. The two main characters,
Sabeth and Songül (Sabeth Buchmann, Songül Bulut), walk into a cinema bar to
have a drink. The strange bottles in the waiter's hands have inscriptions on
their labels: "Misery of the Present - Abundance of the Possible", next to the
André Gorz "rum brand". At the tables, someone is gathering cigarette packets
with messages such as "discipline", "profit", "efficiency", in order to explain
Toni Negri's thesis on the society of control and the factory discipline.

This is the bar where the two girls meet the Meaning Making Taxidriver (Chara
Ganotis) who, afterwards, invites them for a drive through the postmodern city.

Inside her Jaguar - normally considered a status symbol and an expression of a
muted nonconformist - he explains them the relationships of the commodity world
while they drive past the "ruins of Fordism": The shop-windows announce an
imminent bankruptcy. The pressure to present the best sales offer finds its most
exaggerated example in a scene in which shoes are given away for free.

The diverse structures of meaning which cross the city level out when the three
actors arrive at a business street, the shopping arcade, or the roof of a
shopping centre. This reminds us of Walter Benjamin's "Arcades Project", where
he defines the flaneur's gaze and carefully analyses the phantasmagorias which
re-emerge in our postmodern city-images, and of his "materialist philosophy"

The character of work in the era of the disappearance of traditional production
relations is also incorporated in different scenes in the film. The shoeshine
who obviously works for free, although he is really obeying the pressure of
"having to be useful". When he is accused of being overly-servile, a security
guard (Nic Duric) comes to his aid. The arguments he puts forward cite a draft
of a document written by a social and Christian foundation for the Hanseatic
youth in order to professionally re-adapt unemployed people, by placing them in
the security corps.

Both projects, Revolution Non Stop and ParkFiction, focus on the political ideal
of a fairer society, although each one translates this ideal to reality in a
different manner. While the ideal park is authenticated by its gradual
realisation, the different elements of the real city - architecture, fashion,
traffic, movement, advertising - become text in the film, and turn into
proposals which escape "the material itself".

Christoph Schäfer has inserted his film in a particular context: Revolution Non
Stop begins and ends in the Metropolis Cinema, in Hamburg. Since the setting and
the screening room coincide, and the spectator can have a drink in the bar,
"separate" from the film, or bump into the Meaning Making Taxidriver's Jaguar en
la Mönckebergstrasse, the division line between fiction and reality is further
diffused. All the participants in the film are fellow artists from the
"semi-dominant" local networks of cinema, music, politics, or art in Hamburg and
Berlin. Thus Schäfer tends to interweave fact and fiction, a phenomenon which
Benjamin had noticed back in his time in the disappearance of the shopping
arcade, and which nowadays, in the era of large shopping centres, of Big Brother
and of on-line virtual speculation, determines us all.

Revolution Non Stop was produced for the Aussendienst ("Foreign Service")
exhibition, Hamburg (2000/2001), which focused, in general, on the issue of art
in the public space, and, more specifically, on the interventionist aspects of
contemporary art strategies.