Imagination Machine
Text by Daniel Urban for Schirnmag, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2017

The Temporary inhabitant
Text excerpt by Alan Quireyns, AiR Antwerpen (published in State of the City, 2016)

On Endless Renovation
Conversation between Ani Schulze and Clare Molloy, Frankfurt am Main (published in Residenzen Two Thousand and Fifteen, 2016)

Conversation between Ani Schulze and Didem Yazici at Schau_Raum in Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg (June, 2016)

Share a dare, darling
Conversation between Ani Schulze and Solalanotte, Frankfurt (December, 2012)

Vacant Lands
Text by Christin Müller, basis, Frankfurt (published in State of the City, 2016)


On Endless Renovation
Conversation between Ani Schulze and Clare Molloy, Frankfurt am Main (January 2016)

Clare Molloy: You began working on From Aerial Vortices, (2015) during a three month residency at Centre européen d'actions artistiques contemporaines CEAAC in Strasbourg, France. The film is set in Aubette, a radical example of modernist architecture, when did you first encounter this building?

Ani Schulze: Before I started the residency I had heard about the building, its history and its use as a temporary exhibition space. Being curious about Aubette I visited it when I arrived in the city and I remember being just as impressed as I was puzzled by the look of it because Aubette is a contemporary reproduction; the original is long since gone.
I started to gather each and every material I could find that related to the building. I stumbled upon the beautiful original architectural drawings in the Strasbourg city archive and discovered documentation about the reconstruction that took place in the early 1990s. In 2007 the Musées de Strasbourg published a great book about Aubette, with photos of the original interior, and its construction in 1928. You can see Hans Arp standing on a ladder, as well as Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber hanging out on the building site.
What I could not find were photographs of the spaces being used in their original state during the short period when it was open and functioning in 1928. I then realized that, by means of this absent imagery, the idea of the space and its use remain a fiction. This continued with the Cine-Ballroom, whose original purpose was so that you could see cinema while dancing - creating a unique perception of film - and the fact is that what we see now is a fac simile of the original. This was the point of departure for From Aerial Vortices.

CM: The way that From Aerial Vortices has been filmed is highly precise, how did you go about making the film?

AS: From the beginning there was the vision to completely dive into the colors and the structures of the space, so that they start to become pure abstraction.
The camera followed the idea of scanning the space with all its traces and marks. The extreme close ups and long camera pans give almost no orientation within the space, a few of the shots have even been created by filming through the mirrors in the rooms. Thus, the camera movements required an extreme precision, solely possible by working with Patrick Alan Banfield, Nicolas C. Geissler and their film production company neuzeit.tv.
The first shot in the film is of the white projection screen, the only white surface in the Cine-Ballroom. Theo van Doesburg composed the structures around it with a double purpose: Firstly the visitors' perception should be guided through the structures to perceive the moving images and, secondly, the movement, the dancing of their bodies should be directed by the Cine-Ballroom's patterns. The combination of both, the dancing and the perceiving of the moving images, should lead to a sort of spiritual point of departure, a state of illusion.
The camera movement of my film starts with the white screen as a symbol of the center or beginning of traveling through the space, a journey into abstraction and illusiveness.

CM: Your earlier works, particularly Cinema House Oliveira (2014), have examined the relationship between cinema and modernist architecture. This film From Aerial Vortices is not only set in Aubette, but the text in the film often describes the actions of a group "They use a linen cloth, thin linen... They swallow yellow taste", who does "they" refer to?

AS: "They" leads into an abstract fiction in correspondence with the images which, by means of the text narrative and its repetition, can lead to imagining a timeless and utopian group.
Nevertheless, the narrative leaves it open to the viewer as to who or what "they" might be. It can also be read as the behavior of the color structures themselves. I try to play around with the unstable relationship between imagination and reality. The line "They use a linen cloth, thin linen, keeping out the wind"refers to a similar description of a fictional island society by Thomas More in Utopia.
The language generating a possible image of"they"creates distance and might reposition the viewer as an observer. This work is my filmic response to the cinematic function of the space.

CM: The reference to Thomas More's Utopia is interesting, I had wondered if "they" referred to the three architects forming their criteria with regard to color and materials for their own utopian project. Yet, there is another character in the work, the Aubette guard. What interests you in the figure of the invigilator?

AS: In the narrative of the film the character of the guard appears as the only human figure (genau, Abb.10/ image 10). Dressed in black, he clashes with the constant presence of the abstract colors, or rather the abstract human ideas translated through the colors. Thus, he embodies control, not controlling the space, rather controlling memory. In a certain way he is the only person inhabiting the space, controlling our access to it. He is the key to looking back, or rather to looking beyond the colors, allowing us to be absorbed through the abstract vortex of the space.

CM: You first showed From Aerial Vortices at CEAAC, how was the film exhibited and which other works were part of the show?

AS: The different elements came together as one piece and as one experience in the installation. I tried to transform and expand the visual experience of the moving image into the exhibition space itself. The film was projected onto a very slim but large board, bringing a new architectural diagonal into the space (Abbildung 6). The projection seemed to be floating in the room, referencing the almost gravity-free atmosphere of the film.
The projection corresponded with a spotlit of an abstracted and minimal drawing illustrating the movement of footsteps (Abbildung 4).
Another layer became the fragmented wallpaper collage, which came together out of expanded fragments of the collages I had been sending to you. Together these multiple facets composed narrations of endless renovations, of control and loss, creation and destruction.

CM: Gathered here are collages, film stills, text fragments, a drawing, and documentation of the exhibition at CEAAC. What was the process which led to these elements becoming part of this publication?

AS: When the idea of this publication came up, I was doing the film editing and post-production. Moreover, I had worked on collages that played with ideas and fragments around the project, a practice, which fed back into the editing process. This was when I thought that another voice would be valuable, and so I asked you to collaborate. And since it was an ongoing process it seemed inevitable for us to react to fragments, instead of working on a simple overview.
For a few weeks I sent you various collages, which were based on the different colors of the Cine-Ballroom, via email. Sending you these collages had something intuitive, then meditational, and I had no idea how you would react or answer. Your response was exciting. Instead of a typed text I got images of your notebook with the beautiful handwriting as immediate reactions to the collages. The collages played with layers of creation and destruction and you took that process into your own text fragments, as in a vortex of the imaginary usage of the Aubette, the shrapnel of memories kept building further narratives.

CM: Yes I also thought that we would have a written email exchange, but I was drawn to the fact that the collages are fragments reflecting materially on the filmmaking and editing process. The collages are a mixture of digital imagery and cut-and-paste collaging, a combining of digital and analog possibilities - so I decided to write fragmented responses in my notebook and send you photographs of the results via email.
When I was receiving the collages I didn't have a fixed idea of what they were referring to other than the colors of Aubette's wall panels, at the end of the notes I've written what colors the collages were - "black page last" or "blue light final" - these annotations seem cryptic and strange now. We didn't speak during this time, but I had the feeling that the collages might have been a way for you to rethink scenes that might or might not end up in the final cut. You had shown me early edits of the film, so I was aware of the building and the strange status it enjoys, a utopian space rebuilt in a way that utterly frustrates its original purpose. You can't dance in Aubette, you can't spin around rooms flooded with cinematic images. The space seemed like it had been coerced into stillness and silence, and fragments of stories left untold are what underpin the notes.
I thought that this irony of the silenced space can't have escaped the invigilator. He is full of knowledge of the rooms, someone who can perhaps tell you how many paces it takes to cross the Cine-Ballroom, and yet his presence ensures that Aubette remains quiet and that everyone behaves.
During the time when the collages were entering my inbox I was reading about the choreographic practice of Deborah Hay. There is an imagining of the invigilator going to Texas to work on movement with her, bringing the knowledge lodged in his body with him and Hay tugging the daily movements into a taut choreography. There is also the figure of a restorator in crisis, trying to perfectly remake panels, whilst aware that she cannot possibly travel through time to find exactly the right colors. There is also you, piecing the architectural history together in archives in Strasbourg, but essentially re-making the building anew through From Aerial Vortices. There is an imagining of Arp, van Doesburg and Taeuber in rapture during the design process. There are questions about when Aubette began to exist and Aubette rememberingherself through scents that the restorator's materials bring into the space.

CM: Has From Aerial Vortices now reached its final iteration?

AS: No, it is still growing further and I guess as long as it will be shown in installative forms it will always be growing further and building new layers. Furthermore, I am currently developing the sound version of the film with a sound designer, which will change the piece completely. I will keep on working with both versions in the future, as the silent version very strongly keeps an imagining of sound and rhythm through the pure images, whereas the sound piece is more direct in its experience and opens up access through another sense.

Clare Molloy works as a curator. She was the Kadist Curatorial Fellow 2015 and worked closely with the artist Otobong Nkanga on her exhibition "Crumbling Through Powdery Air" at Portikus, Frankfurt, and curated "Comot Your Eyes Make I Borrow You Mine" at the Kadist Foundation Paris. Subsequently she was the research curator for Nkanga's performance "Diaoptasia" at Tate Modern, London. Clare studied the MA in Curatorial Studies at the Städelschule and Goethe University, Frankfurt.


Conversation with Ani Schulze by Didem Yazici
On the occassion of the screening "Differences" (2014) in Schau_Raum Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg (June 2016)

Didem Yazici: As the title suggests, the film focuses on 'Differences'. It happens through using adjectives and contrasts, it also refers to differences of perception and imagination. Can you elaborate in which meaning/ ways do you use the expression 'Differences'?

Ani Schulze: I use 'Differences' aiming to shake and distort structures of visual information and challenge contradictive ways of thinking.
The film opposes text and images and my intention was to open a sort of tournament between them. I was playing with word combinations, distinguishing between a given conceptual system and my creations and visions. In my work I am constantly interested to explore the ambivalence of image's visible and invisible nature, which goes back to the early cinema idea of film being a language made of rhythm and colors.

DY: 'Concrete rough like velvet' this is quotation from the piece, as you said before it is an expression that does not exist. It triggers the visual imagination of the viewer...

AS: Yes, I try to tickle especially this relation of images and text and the imagination of the viewer. I wrote the first version of the text in German and the expression "Concrete that is rough like velvet" just happened through a sort of mistranslation. So the words started to develop something own, they became like surreal images, when combining with the moving image. My interest was that expressions like that do not just only accompany the visible images but also that they provoke an image be-­-yond, another image, that only exists in the of the viewers' imagination.

DY: The language aspect is particulary interesting in the work, as it challenges the stereotype of categorical thinking. The text is not merely a part of the piece, but plays a crucial role. It comes back to the question of - philosophy and politics of language.

AS: Indeed, I'm definitely interested in the power of words, how they mirror acts of thinking and possibilities of constructing and solving problems in the field of language. I love that there's a freedom for new conjunctions and associations. I like to create my own system by breaking existing ones through word games, mistranslations and floating or morphing relations between text and images. It is so nice as it can take you on really new journeys. I'm also interested in how the written word in form of subtitles influences and guides, but also misleads the visible image. And the other way around: The boundaries of the texts control and the power of the images.

DY: Even though the work deals a lot with conceptual themes of film making, construction of language and the relation between imagery and the text; yet it has a strong dreamy and open spirit. There is a certain level of cloudy, timeless, drunkenness feeling which is puzzling and confusing...

AS: Yes, there's a strong sense of becoming lost in time, images and language. Losing control, creating blind spots, cars moving back and forward, a sudden doubling of sky images - and everything in a slow, but still fluent motion.
The two voices in the film seem hidden, apart and almost voyeuristic. I let the images flow, following their own rhythms. They show traces of a sort of conserved beauty, somewhere, whenever.

DY: The video program 'Get Away From It All' deals with the topics of alienation, non-­-place, and escapism. How do you feel about presenting the work within this conceptual framework?

AS: My film piece is definitely comprised by issues of alienation and non-­- placement, they are topics which have come up intuitively in my previous projects as well. So I was happy to receive the invitation to show at the program. And I like that the conceptual framework leaves space and openness for each of the artists' works. The Schau_Raum is a great space to screen video works and I really like that it forms a permanent program within the museum.

DY: Historical reflections seem to be the base of your artistic research. Film script fragments by Alexander Kluge, a contradictory modern building in Strasbourg which was rebuilt, architecture, design can be starting point. They often bring out the discursive aspect of your methodology. Can you talk about these processes and the current piece you're working on?

AS: I'm working on a visual language engaged on conversations with the history of literature, architecture and cinema. It is a way to explore the material and sculptural potentials of film as a medium to look into cultural, political and economic backgrounds of social interactions. I am working on a new film piece, which takes as a starting point a modern space constructed to percieve cinema through dancing. The original space built 1928 survived less than a year, apparently people did not liked it and it was soon replaced. But its image become a reference and it has been reconstructed about 20 years ago. It was originally designed by Theo van Doesburg who was concerned to create feelings and a state of illusion through precise mathematical constructions. This ambivalence between abstract systems and intuitive physical appropriations provides me a way to play with the contemporary expressions of these ideas.


Gespräch mit Ani Schulze
Anlässlich der Vorführung von "Differences" im Schau_Raum Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg (Juni 2015)

Didem Yazici: In dem Film geht es, wie der Titel andeutet, in erster Linie um "Differenzen". Das geschieht durch die Verwendung von Adjektiven und Kontrasten, der Ausdruck bezieht sich aber auch auf Differenzen in der Wahrnehmung und Vorstellung. Könntest du etwas drüber sagen, in welchem Sinne, auf welche Weise Sie den Begriff "Differenzen" verwendest?

Ani Schulze: Differenzen verwende ich mit dem Ziel, Strukturen visueller Information durcheinander zu rütteln und zu verzerren und dabei widersprüchliche Denkweisen hervorzurufen. Der Film konfrontiert Texte und Bilder, und ich wollte so etwas wie einen Wettstreit zwischen ihnen veranstalten. Ich habe mit bestimmten Kombinationen von Wörtern gespielt und dabei zwischen einem vorgegebenen Begriffssystem und meinen Kreationen oder Visionen unterschieden. In meiner Arbeit bin ich eigentlich immer daran interessiert, die Ambivalenz zwischen dem sichtbaren und dem unsichtbaren Wesen des Bildes zu erkunden, was auf die Vorstellung aus der Frühzeit des Kinos zurückgeht, als man den Film als eine Bildsprache verstand, die mit Rhythmus und Farben operiert.

DY: "Concrete rough like velvet" (Beton, rau wie Samt) heißt es einmal in deinem Stück, und das ist, wie du sagtest, ein Ausdruck, den es gar nicht gibt. Er löst etwas aus in der visuellen Vorstellung des Zuschauers...

AS: Ja, ich versuche genau dieses Verhältnis zwischen Bildern und Text und der Imagination des Zuschauers herauszukitzeln. Die erste Version des Textes hatte ich auf Deutsch geschrieben, und die der Formulierung "Concrete that is rough like velvet" hat sich einfach durch eine Art Übersetzungsfehler ergeben. Die Wörter begannen also, etwas Eigenständiges zu entwickeln, sie waren auf einmal wie surreale Bilder, wenn sie mit dem bewegten Bild kombiniert wurden. Mir ging es darum, dass solche Ausdrücke die sichtbaren Bilder nicht einfach nur begleiten, dass sie jenseits davon ein Bild hervorrufen, ein anderes Bild, das nur in der Imagination des Zuschauers existiert.

DY: Besonders interessant an der Arbeit scheint mir der Aspekt der Sprache zu sein, denn er stellt das Stereotyp eines begrifflich strukturierten Denkens in Frage. Der Text ist nicht nur ein Teil des Werks, er spielt eine entscheidende Rolle. Im Grunde geht es hier um Fragen der Sprachphilosophie und -politik.

AS: Durchaus, die Macht der Worte interessiert mich sehr, wie sich in ihnen Denkakte und die Möglichkeiten wiederspiegeln, im Sprachlichen Probleme zu formulieren und zu lösen. Ich liebe es, wenn sich Freiräume für neue Zusammenstellungen und Assoziationen ergeben. Ich mag es, mein eigenes System zu schaffen, indem ich existierende Systeme durch Wortspiele, Fehlübersetzungen und frei flottierende oder ineinander übergehende Beziehungen zwischen Text und Bild aufbreche. Das ist toll, weil man da auf völlig neue Pfade kommt. Was mich auch interessiert, ist die Frage, wie Schrift in Form von Untertiteln das visuelle Bild beeinflusst und leitet, aber auch in die Irre leitet. Und auch umgekehrt: Die Grenzen der Kontrolle durch den Text und die Macht der Bilder.

DY: In der Arbeit geht es zwar stark um konzeptuelle Fragen des Filmemachens, um die Konstruktion von Sprache und die Beziehung zwischen Bildlichkeit und Text, sie ist aber doch auch geprägt von einer träumerischen, von einer offenen Haltung. Es gibt da in einem gewissen Ausmaß eine wolkige, zeitlose, trunkene Stimmung, die Rätsel aufgibt und verwirrt...

AS: Ja, man hat schon sehr stark das Gefühl, sich in der Zeit, in den Bildern und der Sprache zu verlieren. Man verliert die Kontrolle, es entstehen blinde Flecken, Autos fahren vor und zurück, plötzlich verdoppeln sich die Bilder vom Himmel - und das alles in einer langsamen aber noch flüssigen Bewegung. Die beiden Stimmen im Film scheinen aus dem Verborgenen zu sprechen, als stünden sie Abseits, als hätten sie etwas Voyeuristisches. Ich lasse die Bilder fließen, nach ihrem eigenen Rhythmus. Die lassen Spuren einer konservierten Schönheit erkennen, irgendwo, irgendwann.

DY: Das Videoprogramm "Get Away From It All" ist den Themen Entfremdung, Unorte und Eskapismus gewidmet. Wie findest du es, deine Arbeit in diesem konzeptuellen Rahmen zu präsentieren?

AS: In meinem Film geht es auf jeden Fall auch um Fragen der Entfremdung und der Ortlosigkeit, das sind Themen, die auch in meinen vorangegangenen Projekten intuitiv immer wieder eine Rolle spielten. Deshalb habe ich mich gefreut, als ich eingeladen wurde, die Arbeit in diesem Programm zu präsentieren. Und mir gefällt, dass der konzeptuelle Rahmen Raum lässt und offen ist für die Arbeiten der jeweiligen Künstlerinnen und Künstler. Der Schau_Raum ist ein großartiger Ort, um Videoarbeiten zu zeigen, und ich finde gut, dass er ein fortlaufendes Programm im Kontext des Museums bietet.

DY: Grundlage deiner künstlerischen Recherchen scheinen historische Überlegungen zu sein. Fragmente aus Drehbüchern von Alexander Kluge, ein umstrittenes modernes Gebäude in Straßburg, das wiederaufgebaut wurde, Architektur, Design - all dies kann zum Ausgangspunkt werden. Dabei tritt oft der diskursive Aspekt ihrer Methodik zu Tage. Könntest du etwas über diese Prozesse sagen und über das Stück, an dem du gerade arbeitest?

AS: Ich arbeite an einer visuellen Sprache, die mit der Auseinandersetzung mit der Literaturgeschichte, mit Architektur und Film zu tun hat. Es handelt sich um eine bestimmt Art, die materiellen und skulpturalen Potenziale des Mediums Film auszuloten, sich mit den kulturellen, politischen und ökonomischen Hintergründen gesellschaftlicher Interaktionen zu beschäftigen. Zurzeit arbeite ich an einer neuen filmischen Arbeit; Ausgangspunkt sind Veranstaltungsräume der Moderne, die man als Kino und Tanzsaal eingerichtet hatte. Die ursprüngliche Ausstattung von 1928 überdauerte nicht einmal ein Jahr, den Leuten gefiel sie offenbar nicht, und so wurde sie schon bald durch eine andere ersetzt. Doch die durch Abbildungen überlieferte Gestaltung galt später als wichtiges Werk der modernen Innenarchitektur, und vor etwa 20 Jahren rekonstruierte man den Originalzustand. Die Ausstattung stammte von Theo van Doesburg, dem es darum ging, durch mathematisch präzise Konstruktionen Empfindungen und Illusionen hervorzurufen. Diese Ambivalenz zwischen abstrakten Systemen und intuitiven physi-­-schen Aneignungen eröffnet mir die Möglichkeit, mit den zeitgenössischen Ausdrucksformen für diese Ideen zu spielen.


Share a dare, darling
Conversation between Ani Schulze and Solalanotte, Frankfurt (December 2012)

Solalanotte: The two film projections „L“ of the installation „Share a dare, darling“ were captured in and around the swimming pool „Piscina Quinta da Conceicao“ in Porto, Portugal. How does this architectural structure relate to the work you presented in the show?

Ani Schulze: The pool is placed on top of a hill, close to one of the biggest European harbours, Leixoes. The whole hill formed around the last 3 decades a location for freetime activities for the working society, developed in the early 70's. This year is the first year, in that the pool is not in use, because of the economical crisis. The bulding is falling apart. The swimming pool was built between 1958- 1965 by the Portugese architect Alvaro Siza. It is set within a wooded garden. The architect was playing with an universal speach of forms. So is the site treated in a manner that seem to be both Islamic and Shintoesque and the whole construction follows a L- configuration. The walls play a salient role and the swimming pool itself has to be found by traversing a circuitous route. The two film projections are following this route as the film material is edited by following the labyrintic path. The L shape gets as well visual in the installation through the fake stone effect sculpture. The projections find their way out of this construction. Siza said he tries „To catch the precise moment of the flittering image in all its shades“. He describes his architecture as a state of „in between“ and not as absolute. The building is playing with wall borders on one hand and natural borders on the other hand. The rendering of the swimming pool is half constructed, half natural.

The group of four people (played by four Portugese artists and architects) appearing in this two film parts hang around in and outside of the building. They smoke cigarettes, drink water and start to play around a rope. There are four different voices, which are more giving monologs than conversations in German language. The thoughts and statements circulate around borders, location and limits and the moving of that. There is no way out of the labyrint, because it is during we are moving through it.

S: Text phrases come together in a collage and repeat on the wall of the exhibition space in an English translation as letter stickers and on TV monitors.

AS: Lady Gaga repeating and repeating the limitlessness of Marina Abramovic and Walter Steiner in an inter- view with Werner Herzog, in that he is talking about his ski flight above a critical limit point.

„Sie ist ein grenzenloser Mensch.“ „She is a limitless human being.“ „Wie immer man sich auch dreht und wendet, der Arsch ist immer hinten.“ „However you turn around, you will always be part of your back.“

„Sie sind über den kritischen Punkt gesprungen.“ „You jumped over the critical point.“ „Ich habe schon vorher gemerkt, dass es zu weit geht. Schon am Eck wollte ich aufgeben, aber dann habe ich bemerkt, wenn ich das machen würde, würde es noch sehr viel weiter gehen.“ „I realized before, that it goes too far. Already at the corner I wanted to give up, but when I realized that if I would do so, it would go much further....“

The speech in the video is in German and it is English translated in other monitors and repeat itself also on the wall of the exhibition space in an English translation. In some way by repeating itself, the speech falls back. It is like if, through repetition, the discourse start questioning itself. Abstracted and formed together in a big moving collage the text parts seem to connect as well thoughts around artistic process and collective production. No story, but a story line- it is more about questioning, than giving answers.

S: The characters shown in the film seem to have a certain way in common, a specific attitude toward the world they share and themselves...

AS: I played a lot between the two states of being alone and in a group. There is not a starting point in the video but you can recognize a starting point from the construction, because the video moves from the outside to the inside of the architecture. But if you take this „outside“ as starting point, people are here initially alone, together but by them selves, you see someone thinking alone in a projection, and in the projection another person questioning oneself. With the moving toward the inside of the construction, people start coming closer and the conversation starts. But the more they go further on, in the structure as well as in the conversation, the more it becomes clear to them that they can't construct anything. When it happens that they find out a common point, they feel they are already beyond it. This symbolic element and the role, that their work together is their common point regarding the limit. Limit and fear of the limit... Fear comes out of their conversation, and you can see it expresses in the stereotype of their postures. Eventually, nothing really happens. They are like helpless, helplessly reflecting about production. It is an on going reflection about production and the questioning of the production itself at the exact time of its becoming. This reflects the question, „What can I do to make me and our self happy? What can we do when there is nothing to be done, if there are things done anyway?“


Vacant Lands
Text by Christin Müller, basis, Frankfurt (published in State of the City, 2016)

Ani Schulze's art engages with forgotten objects, abandoned sites and architectural structures, and their part-unfinished histories and failed utopias. With the aid of videos, collages, and installations Schulze traces histories that have all but sunk into oblivion, using new narratives to recontextualize them in the present and to playfully explore their social and cultural transformations.

As starting point of her three-month artist residency project in Antwerp Schulze took local rubber production and its historical development from a natural raw material to an industrially produced and processed product. Since the nineteenth century rubber production has become a major economic factor in Antwerp.

Ani Schulze uses manufacturing methods in their local setting as a metaphor to reflect on our relationship to production and consumption. Her installation 'Vacant Lands' creates an abstract narrative that unfolds as an imaginary landscape in the exhibition space. The installation consists of two video works and sculptural prints. Her digitized 16mm film 'Fecund Soil' is set in a nature reserve in the Antwerp port area adjoining the grounds of Lanxess, the world's largest chemical concern. Both areas are fenced in and cannot be accessed without permission. We see the overgrown nature reserve. Through tall grasses and vegetation the production plant shows in the distance; but the area is so densely vegetated that there is never a full view of the plant facilities. A voice-over narrator talks of the original use of rubber in ancient Mesoamerica and of a forgotten age when the material was made into balls in order to play games. The fictional story unfolds in this surreal setting oscillating between a post-human atmosphere and a bygone era.
The video 'In Disguise' extends the installation with a second film. In line with its title, the video depicts an item not openly shown to begin with: its central object, the 'Rainbelle' umbrella developed by Ferdinand Kramer in the USA in 1946, is first seen in close-up and only gradually in its full size and shape. Mass produced for one-time use, the umbrella is a reaction to the throwaway society at that time. The aesthetic presentation of this limited-utility product designed for one-off use deliberately raises questions about our current relationship to mass production and sustainability. The video also creates an illusion of completely autonomous motion: the object appears to mechanically rotate without visible aid.
Hands and parts of bodies in different poses, rubber tires, and abstract floral forms are the motifs of the large-format prints suspended from the ceiling that endow the installation with an added spatial dimension. Laid collage-like on top of each other on clear film, these elements play with the diaphanous, with intimacy and distance, materiality and immateriality. They hang from the ceiling as moving elements and mark out the line of passage, while their superimpositions and transparency echo the structures of the two film works.

Ani Schulze uses the transition from natural to synthetic rubber to question our present relation to production and consumption, including our relation to the products. How far has production progressed from hand manufacture to immaterial, abstract production processes? Working with nearness and distance, Schulze hauntingly reflects the alienation and the rift between production processes and the products' consumers. Her 'Vacant Lands' installation blends historical and fictional aspects to explore these developments at a narrative-visual level. The union of a fictional narrative of a bygone age and images of production facilities generates a new, surreal narrative in which nature and industry, nearness and distance, standstill and motion, past and present constantly interweave and fuse.


The Temporary inhabitant
Text excerpt by Alan Quireyns, AiR Antwerpen (published in State of the City, 2016)

Alan Quireyns (artistic director AiR Antwerpen)

(...) A man in a dustcoat and cap weaves his way through dense frondescence, his shoulders brushed by softly rustling reeds. The lush green, and the luminous blue of a sky crisscrossed by vapour trails, enhance the chimeric quality of his surroundings. He is not alone. Coming to a spinney he gathers grass, roots, earth and stones and puts them in a plastic crate, his hands and feet protected by gloves and boots. His movements are enigmatic, the landscape oddly unsettling. Away in the distance, looming in and out of sight above the tossing reeds, are two spherical white silos.1 This strange place is Blokkersdijk, an area of wetland on Antwerp's left bank. Yet the man's clothes and the precision of his actions link him to these containers, which are part of the Arlanxeo production site. The butyl rubber made there is used for a whole range of things, from chewing gum to protection from chemical warfare agents. The tall reeds and the man's grey rounded back are a forceful reminder of Son of Saul.2 It's a cinematic approach that equates the audience's view with the protagonist's. We see what he sees; experience what he experiences. (...)

1 "Fecund soil", Ani Schulze, 2016, created during a residency in April - June 2016 in AiR Antwerpen.