Old Painless – exhibition video

2007 | 16:9 HD-Video, single channel, stereo | 00:14:00
This video is a montage of excerpts from Hollywood movies that explore suicidal tendencies in various ways. Human self-extinction is either the subject of the film or a connected motif, regardless if a suicide actually occurs. The act of suicide may not be shown in this work, but the significant scenes before or after it. The extracts have been selected after analyzing roughly fifty films. The recurring motifs are categorized through symbolism: Abyss, Smoke, House, View into a hole, Cars, Escape, Hand, Weapon, Head, Animal. For example, the hand, which often appears in an an iconic context of “too human”, is pointing a path towards suicide in “The Fly” as well as in “Profession: Reporter” and “Taxi Driver”.
Scenes are alternated and juxtaposed with similar, corresponding sequences, thus allowing conceptual intersections. Typical jump-cuts and musical montages create an abstract context. The successive parts that are taken mostly from popular movies create persisting chords in memory that clash with the subsequent scenes.
Old Painless can be referenced as either the exhilarating hit from the Vietnam TV-Series “M*A*S*H*”, or from the unbelievably heavy gun from “Predator”. Furthermore, it represents the deathless hero brought to the movies by the “Western” genre, much like the characters in monster movies, for example in the “Alien” films. The main character from Alien, “Ripley”, is hunted throughout the sequels by the Aliens and kills herself in part three. More or less surprisingly, she arises in part four as the cloned mother of all Aliens. As such, she represents the counterpart of the suicidal godfather “Terminator”.

Exhibition view from “Lebe Wohl-Farewell. Suicidal tendencies in art and society”, Kunsthaus Hamburg, 2007