After the Avant-Garde

After the Avant-Garde

Contemporary German and Austrian Experimental Film

Edited by Randall Halle, Reinhild Steingröver


Camden House



New essays exploring the surging field of experimental film in today's Germany and Austria.
Filmmaking in Germany and Austria has changed dramatically in the last decades with digitalization and the use of video and the Internet. Yet despite predictions of a negative effect on experimental film, the German and Austrian filmscape is filled with dynamic new experiments, as new technological possibilities push a break with the past, encouraging artists to find new forms. This volume of theoretically engaged essays explores this new landscape, introducing the work of established and emerging filmmakers, offering assessments of the intent and effect of their productions, and describing overall trends. It also explores the relationship of today's artists to the historical avant-garde, revealing a vibrant form of artistic engagement that has a history but has certainly not ended. The essays address such questions as the effects of transformations of cinematic space; the political effects of the breakdown of barriers between experimental film and advertising, and of the rise of music videos and reality TV; the effects of the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the rise of capitalism, and the European movement on experimental film work; and whether these experiments are aligned with mass political movements -- for instance that of anti-globalization -- or whether they strive for autonomy from quotidian politics.

Randall Halle is Klaus W. Jonas Professor of German and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Reinhild Steingröver is Associate Professor of German in the Department of Humanities at the Eastman School of Music.


October 2008
29 black and white illustrations
371 pages
9x6 in
Screen Cultures: German Film and the Visual
ISBN: 9781571133656
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC PER004030, HIS014000, ART046000
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Randall Norman Halle and Reinhild Steingröver
The Future of "Art" and "Work" in the Age of Vision Machines: Harun Farocki - Thomas Elsaesser
The Embodied Film: Austrian Contributions to Experimental Cinema - Bernadette Wagenstein
Interview with Filmmaker Birgit Hein - Randall Norman Halle and Reinhild Steingröver
Videorebels: Actions and Interventions of the German Video-Avant-Garde - Annette Jael Lehman
Meida in the Interim: Independent Film in East Germany before and after 1989 - Claus Löser
Blackbox GDR: DEFA's Untimely Avant-Garde - Reinhild Steingröver
In Your Face: Activism, Agit-Pop, and the Autonomy of Migration; The Case of Kanak Attak - Nanna Heidenreich and Vojin Sasa Vukadinovic
Rapidly Expanding Cinema: On Border Rescue and the Tendentiousness of Interventionist Art - Randall Norman Halle
The Post-Pop Hauntings of Bjorn Melhus - Alice A. Kuzniar
Schlingensief's Peep Show: Post-Cinematic Spectacles and the Public Space of History - Richard Langston
From the Diary to the Webcam: Michael Brynntup and the Medical Self -
QWERTY Cinema: Christoph Girardet/Matthias Muller's Pheonix Tapes - Rembert Hüser
Kirsten Winter: From Avant-Garde to Second Modernity - Larson Powell
The Representation of Space in the Films of Heinz Emigholz - Owen Lyons
Shocking the Audience, Shocking the Artist: Aesthetic Affinities to the Avant-Garde in Elke Krystufek's Work - Christina Schmid


Bringing together contributions from 15 scholars, many of them established historians of German and Austrian film, this collection. . . is among the first to address recent experimental film practices systematically, with attention to both a wide range of filmmakers, genres, and styles, and to the theoretical dimensions of film experiments "after the avant-garde". . . The best contributions to this volume move beyond historical documentation to theorize and rethink the notion of the avant-garde, or to place experimental film productions in a larger aesthetic and political context. . .After the Avant-Garde makes a significant contribution to expanding conceptions of contemporary German film. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

Has uncommon scholarly verve, artistic tension, and suggests how lively film criticism can be. GERMAN QUARTERLY

[This] book does a marvelous job of going beyond introductory work about German and Austrian experimental film. While the essays can be read independently, they complement each other in ways that show how the contributors have exchanged their ideas in workshops, seminars, and conferences. Readers looking for information on a single artist or "school" will not be disappointed, but the strength of this collection lies in its mosaic character. H-NET

In this superb collection, Halle and Steingröver provide insights both into the most recent developments in experimental filmmaking in Germany and Austria and into the works of eight fascinating contemporary experimental artists. CHOICE

[A] useful starting point for a necessary reevaluation of 1980s German film history, suggesting a more diverse cultural field than that of the "cinema of consensus" which Eric Rentschler rightly identified as the dominant mode of the mainstream German [film] industry. . . . Particularly impressive in this collection is the coherence of the contributions. . . . [E]xplores the possibilities for the continuing political potential of visual culture at a time when [it] was decreed lost by those critics who saw the New German Cinema giving way to a postmodernism that was being voraciously commodified by the culture industry. MONATSHEFTE [Paul Cooke]

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