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Ulrike Müller, On Passing

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On Passing, with ten years distance

It’s the late fall of 2020, and I’m currently preparing to move studios, which means I’m spending a part of this ongoing state of crisis with sorting and archiving. Doing so I came across a video file from 2011 produced for the One Minute Film Festival (2003–2012) organized by Jason Simon and Moyra Davey.

The video was shot from a window in my former studio building in Brooklyn, the accompanying audio clip recorded from NPR public radio on that same day. The leaf shapes stem from a children’s craft template … I put these things together in an afternoon with no prior planning. Looking back almost ten years later, I can identify some fundamental ongoing concerns: How does the world enter the studio? How is my work permeable and how does it delimit itself? How do different contexts change its resonance? What is the role of humor, particularly regarding difficult circumstances?

The audio clip on Shakespeare from the radio is an accidental find, as are the other elements. I was interested in an English phrase that was unfamiliar to me at the time and in the etymological shifts that are being discussed. I would say that so-called high culture is something from the outside that makes its way into the work uninvited. Also worth pointing to is the know-it-all interruption of the male presenter, who performs the voice of the patriarchy. Incidentally, his program has meanwhile been suspended as a consequence of #MeToo grievances.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a euphemism is the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive word for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant. In this case a word such as death or dying.

Ulrike Müller, Brooklyn, New York, November 2020