June, 17th 2021


From March 13th 2014 to August 24th 2014  /  Foyer Luce-Guilbeault

BERLIN - THE PASSAGE OF TIME (Places and Monuments - 6)

A video installation by Pierre Hébert, created with the assistance of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Vidéographe
Music: John Barrett
Assistants: Nicolas Brault and Clémence Renaud-Allaire
Mixing: Luc Boudrias

Places and monuments, anonymous and ghostly presences from past and present, intertwine and reverberate in the video installation Berlin – Le passage du temps. On four screens placed horizontally, four videotapes are played in a loop, their images constantly shifting and overlapping, creating constantly changing relationships among these images and sounds of Berlin.

All segments derive from footage shot in 2012 and 2013 at various sites throughout Berlin. They are snapshots of daily life, but at the same time refer to historical episodes from the last hundred years: from the Weimar Republic, World War II, the naval blockade and airlift of 1948-49, the Berlin Wall and monumental structures of the DDR to today’s massive reconstruction of the Stadtschloss, an emblem of Prussian imperialism. The themes ricochet from one video to the other: traces of history, demolition/reconstruction, rubble, immigrants, anonymous crowds, bicycles, etc. Two segments focus on important Berlin intellectuals: Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, whose destinies unfolded under Nazism. The overall installation, in fact, is heavily influenced by various Benjaminian themes, in particular that of the flâneur (urban wanderer), an underlying principle of the shooting.

Each block of images underwent digital manipulations that compressed them through a process of durational dismemberment and recomposition. This centripetal action, combined with the centrifugal force of animated lines, affect the spectator’s reading of the work, allegorizing these fragments from daily life, creating dialectical images and a kind of historical vertigo.

On a more formal level, the segments are given points of intensity with the help of animated interventions, typographical insertions, archival plans, and the kinetic effect of urban images shot from moving S-Bahn trains. The gap between the loops gives rise to a composition of dynamic clashes in a state of constant transformation, superimposed onto the thematic network. This combinatorial, multi-voiced montage invites viewers to position themselves to either contemplate all four screens or focus on each of the fragments, by moving from one screen to the next. The installation has neither a beginning nor an end; it is open to infinity and derives its form solely from the unique experience of each visitor.

Berlin – The Passage of Time is part 6 of a larger project, Lieux et monuments. To date, this project comprises a series of four short films shot in Prague, Lyon, Halberstadt and the northern coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Pierre Hébert

A co-presentation of the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) and the Cinémathèque québécoise


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