Peter Kubelka und Jonas Mekas

© Generali Foundation Collection—Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Repro: Werner Kaligofsky

Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller

Peter Kubelka und Jonas Mekas, 1994

Film, 16mm, 24 frames/sec, color, silent, 2 min 50 sec


Artwork text

Since the late 1960s, Friedl vom Gröller, a.k.a. Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller, has used photography and film to create portraits that stand out for their psychological acumen. Her oeuvre encompasses over a hundred experimental short films; the artist still works mostly in black-and-white and on analog 16mm stock. The main character in her works is the face with all its expressive potential and its capacity to convey inward agitation, moods, and emotions. The gaze plays a key part, mediating a relationship of reciprocal recognition between the artist’s subjects and herself behind the camera. Vom Gröller stretches the instant of an exchange of glances to the length of a film reel (around three minutes). Such a fixed gaze is normally taboo; in this instance, the film camera’s presence justifies it, allowing for a particular intimacy, tension, and empathy to build up that extend to us as the spectators as well. In the film vom Gröller portrays two protagonists of avant-garde film who are close friends: Jonas Mekas and Peter Kubelka. All in all, then, the work gathers three artists who have made it their vocation to subject the world to penetrating scrutiny. At one point, vom Gröller, who does not otherwise appear on the screen, pointedly intervenes, precipitating an unexpected emotional twist. (JT)