Peter Weibel, Rewriter 2009
Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 1636 Bush St., Suite #2, SF, CA 94109; 415-447-9750
DVD, color, 88 min.
College - Adult
Art, Film Studies, Language, Media Studies, Photography, Technology
Date Entered: 12/17/2009Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Peter Weibel, an artist, curator and cultural theorist, began his career in Austria during the early 1960s. An influential figure in the European avant-garde movement, Weibel created numerous conceptual and performance pieces that aggressively stretched the boundaries of art. This video album is a selection of early works created during the period from 1964 to1975.
Composed of 6 sections (conceptual photography, conceptual poetry, expanded films, body videos, tele-actions, and contextual works), the portfolio primarily consists of short experimental media pieces, shot almost exclusively in black and white, some with sound and subtitles, others without. Weibel’s background and interest is in poetry, linguistics and philosophy rather than purely aesthetic visual art and that is reflected in the work shown in this collection. Several of the representations are body art, which utilize parts of the human form as a canvas; others, such as From the Map of Dogginess (1968) feature the artist being walked through the streets of Vienna on a dog leash; a few simply record movement and activity; while another grouping shows superimposed or distorted images on the screen. While various pieces seem heavy with meaning, there are others that are more light-hearted.
Now in his sixties, Weibel continues to exercise influence in the art world as a theorist and the director of ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. The DVD does not include extra or special features, however an accompanying booklet with contributed essays by several European art critics provide further discussion on Weibel’s impact on the larger cultural landscape. Although the audience is asked “ist das kunst?” (is it art?), viewers interested in media and cultural studies will be fascinated by Weibel’s innovative work as stand-alone pieces and as examples of the larger avant-garde movement. Recommended.