at close quarters (beieinander)

2006
film and installation
4 min.
music: Pascal Comelade


In rare perceptual situations, things take on a maximum of visibility and a minimum of meaning. In such situations, the everyday seems strange; the familiar loses its character as sign and oscillates for a moment in the enchantment of the approximate. Maria Vedder’s video “beieinander” (at close quarters) creates such a situation. The work is part of the series “Stagings of Everyday Life”. The trick of turning the camera perspective by 90 degrees turns a curtain billowing in the wind into a peculiarly beautiful textile object in bright titanium white that expands horizontally in contradiction to the laws of gravity, swelling in the wind and lying in folds. Nothing happens, and yet so much happens – at least in the viewer’s perception. Our mental classification apparatus scans what is seen and compares it with our imagination’s store of images, which ranges from the amorphous forms of mollusks and jellyfish to the famous film image of Marilyn Monroe standing with billowing dress over a ventilation shaft.
But the curtain also entices us to look into the depths, rousing the wish to push through the white surface of the image and penetrate into the darkness behind it. It is this desire to be “inside”, i.e., within the picture, with which “beieinander” quotes the primal scene of visual curiosity and makes its sexual components explicit. That a closer look behind the curtain reveals a man clipping his fingernails at the window is no contradiction. On the contrary, Maria Vedder’s “found” everyday scene wonderfully reveals the proximity of the theatrical and the quotidian, of the sublime and the trivial, of beauty and disgust, and of innocence and obscenity.

Anja Osswald