Oliver Pietsch, an emerging video artist and filmmaker working in Berlin, demonstrates that there are, in art and filmmaking, no “final hits” – no conclusive imagery or idea in film that cannot be recycled, renewed and reinterpreted. And while his work seems to fit Marxist critic and philosopher Theodor Adorno’s description of what successful modern art should be-
at the same time reflecting and transgressing society and its ideologies-his own 1.5-second loop video from 2003 entitled “Adorno” splicing TV footage of the philosopher with David Cronenberg’s exploding head from the movie “Scanners” seems to absorb even the philosopher/critic himself into a new critical discourse, both reverent and ridiculous.
Goff + Rosenthal is pleased to present Pietsch’s new video “The Conquest of Happiness.” Forty-five minutes long, the film took Pietsch two years of research and editing to finish. It encompasses more than three hundred drug-related video clips taken from the history of film. It is organized according to the particular drug being addressed-
heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc-and set to a soundtrack devised by Pietsch. The soundtrack includes music by the Eggs, the Mooseheart Faithstellar Groove Band, Neil Young, F.S. Blumm, Neu, Pass into Silence, Pascal Schäfer, Spaceman 3, Roy Orbinson, John Carpenter, M.T. Fern, Brian Eno, and Daniel Lanois. Music is a key element of production for Pietsch, as he says it “has to work with the pictures, to hold all the different material together like glue and at the same time transport a certain feeling or point of view.”
Says Pietsch, ”’The Conquest of Happiness’ is equal parts documentation, experimental film and music clip. It is a compilation film about drug-use and its representation in movies.”
Pietsch is part of an emerging group of contemporary video artists and filmmakers including Christian Marclay, Paul Pfeiffer, Candace Breitz, and Pierre Huygue who sample from, reorganize, re-edit and use other ways to interpolate into existing films in order to represent them as new works. An important recent exhibition at the Milwaukee Museum of Art curated by Stefano Basilico called “Cut: Film as Found Object in Contemporary Video” was devoted to this mode of new video art.