© mindjazz pictures

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow
France/The Netherlands/U.K. 2011

Opening 27 Oct 2011

Directed by: Sophie Fiennes
Writing credits:
Principal actors: Anselm Kiefer, Klaus Dermutz

Anselm Kiefer, one of the most important contemporary German artists, is mainly known for his super-sized paintings, characterized by their physical materiality that include paint, dirt, ashes, metal and straw. In 1993 he bought La Ribaute, a derelict factory – warehouses and all – on 35 ha of land in southern France. Seven years later he began to turn the estate into a “playground” for his elaborate creations: tottering towers, columns, underground tunnels, buildings; some of them house his paintings and sculptures. Kiefer borrowed the title for this installation “Over your cities grass will grow” from the Bible. It refers to the endless cycle of creation and decay. Here the process of creation has been completed. Kiefer has moved on; the mysterious architecture will start to decay. Interesting – if this is true – that Kiefer approached director Sophie Fiennes to make this documentary! As if to preserve it in its current state and stop the cycle.

Fiennes starts with the camera travelling through the architecture without commentary: through the seemingly endless underground tunnels, through light and shadow. Her eye lingers here, lingers there, gets lost in picturesque details and presents us with an “artsy” view of Kiefer’s work. The installation is site-specific; any soundtrack would feel inappropriate. But the dramatic one she chose to “illustrate” her visual journey is especially annoying. In addition we are left without the “bigger picture,” without reference.

In the interview segment author Klaus Dermutz appears nervous and unsure what to ask. Lucky for him, Kiefer is eager to talk with or without prompting. Mystifying, why during their talk, two young boys appear out of nowhere and disappear as quickly.

I revere Kiefer’s art, and it was after all interesting to watch the process of creation. His wonderful huge and heavy paintings are so very still that one easily forgets that they couldn’t have been created in solitary confinement or in peace and quiet. There are assistants involved that he directs, and heavy machinery, fire and crashing noise. Keeping the physical force in mind will make the works even more still to me. I will always recommend taking the opportunity to see Kiefer’s work, but “over this film grass will grow.” (Carola A)

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