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Ring the Bells (2007) collaboration with Sam Jones (N. Ireland)

The project ‘ring the bells that still can ring’ is situated in Worpswede in the North of Germany.  We were invited as part of an international project to commemorate the death of the painter Paula Moderson Becker. The organization of this event reflected a self-invested interest in the cultural development of Worpswede.  The reinforcement of cultural narrative uses the contemporary to enforce the mythology of the past. The film questions the mythology of the artist within this context, a village in which cultural tourism dominates the local economy and identity.

The video challenges the relationship between metanarrative and the subjective human experience by combining setup fictional situations and characters with non-fictional interviews.  The historical narrative of PMB forms the structure of the fictional scenes in the film enacted by local participants. Holes were created in the fictional scenes with the intention and hope that the participants would take a constructive role in directing the film. The imaginary roles that the participants invented revealed social structures and the fantasies/illusions of individuals.

On our first arrival in the town, we were instantly taken by the narrative history of “the Worpswede artists” that have been passed down through the generations. We explored what these stories symbolized for contemporary residents. Through the use of recollected narrative and participation from local residents we enacted the story, in present day Worpswede, of Paula Moderson-Becker and Clara Westhoff ringing the church bells. The participants in the re-enactment, which was a process of self-scripted characters and improve took a constructive role in the film’s direction. The project culminated in an event and shoot on the church grounds with the climax of the film, the re-enactment of the towns people gathering in a crowd around the church tower to see there was no fire after all.