2 parts: each 76.2 x 101.6 cm
Color photography, framed
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Galerie Rotwand, Zurich
Acrobatics (4441/4, 4441/5)
Klaus Lutz (born 1940 in St. Gallen, Switzerland, died 2009 in New York) created an idiosyncratic oeuvre that comprises films, drawings, and graphic prints. He began his career in Zurich, after which he was awarded a studio fellowship to Genoa, where he also lived for some time. In 1993, Lutz received a studio grant for New York and decided to stay. He moved to the East Village in 1994 to a modest apartment, whose walls he covered in black cloth and which doubled as a film studio. In this camera cum vitro, he created films using very few means and his keen sense for the possibilities of the 16 mm format. He experimented with complex analogue processes that were based on his drawings and carefully timed logs. His preferred method was to film himself with special lenses and integrate himself as a small figure in the graphic sequences using double exposures. He alternated this technique with normal film passages to create animations that appear somnambulistic and constructivist at the same time. For these, the artist also developed spatial and performative forms of presentation.
Lutz also took stills of several of his films to allow a more detailed view of his highly dynamic pictorial worlds. The two C-prints in the Museum’s collection are from the film “Acrobatics” (color, no sound, 21 min. 30 sec. at 18 frames per second, or 16 min. at 24 frames per second), which premiered in 1996 and portrays the ups and downs of living and getting by in “Nethermanhattan.” The film and the accompanying photographs show the artist dressed in white overalls, leaving all personal belongings behind. In front of a pitch-black background, he seems weightless as he scrambles between lines and geometric elements, which he sometimes manipulates. The events appear symbolic and self-referential and only indirectly reveal a wealth of different literary, cultural, or historical references. Other titles like “Almagest” and “Marsschatten” allude to something beyond the self-explanatory dimension of “Acrobatics” and help to link the artist’s private cosmos with other worldviews and mindscapes, both ancient and contemporary. His work also makes several references to the history of art and film – for example, to the working method of the French cineaste Georges Méliès and his famous film “Le voyage dans la lune” (1902). There are also general references to an age when film was beginning to be more than just a spectacle and began to offer complex narratives. Finally, we also find references to the graphically modified agitprop materials of the Russian avant-garde from a slightly later date. In terms of technique, Lutz created his film stills by photographing the projected film and then printing these as a pair of pictures consisting of two frames from the same sequence (the numbers in parentheses indicate the lab and frame number of the negative photograph). Unlike the flow of the film, which emphasizes action, the focus here is on the image’s structural qualities. This is also reflected in the white frame, which is visible in three of the four stills, as well as the vertical montage that deliberately reminds us of analog filmstrips.