Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bernd Behr + Mendelsohn

Still from Bernd Behr, House Without a Door, 2006, 16min 32 sec, High Definition video, colour, stereo.

In 1943 the US Army commissioned architect Erich Mendelsohn and RKO Radio Pictures to design and build a replica Berlin housing estate to test incendiary bombs for the Allied war effort. Borrowing its title from the lost proto-expressionist film The House without a Door (Dir. Stellan Rye, 1914), the work approaches the surviving structure through a series of documentary and constructed set pieces. These re-enact imagined screen tests or outtakes, tracing an oblique trajectory from 1920s German expressionist films such as Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse (1922) and F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) via the film noir of 1940s émigré Hollywood to a contemporary housing development in a place called ‘Faust’ near the Utah test site. The film features a commissioned soundtrack by Marcus Fjellström reflecting the anachronistic timeline of the film.

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