Günter Peter Straschek (middle), Carlos Bustamante (left) and Johannes Beringer (right) on the Set of Labriola, 1970, Photo: Michael Biron

HERE AND NOW at Museum Ludwig:
Günter Peter Straschek

March 3, 2018 – Ju­ly 15, 2018

Open­ing: Fri­day, March 2, 2018, 7 p.m.

Gün­ter Peter Straschek (1942–2009) was a film­mak­er, his­to­rian, and prob­a­b­ly the most knowl­edge­able per­son about the film emi­gra­tion from Nazi Ger­many, the sub­ject of his five-hour tele­vi­sion se­ries from 1975, which lay dor­mant in the WDR archives for four de­cades. Now the Mu­se­um Lud­wig is mak­ing this se­ries the fo­cus of the first ex­hi­bi­tion on Straschek’s film work. His ri­g­or­ous ear­ly work will al­so be on view, in­clud­ing for the first time his A West­ern for the SDS, which is le­g­endary for hav­ing been con­fis­cat­ed in 1968 and nev­er shown. This work and the 1970 film On the Con­cept of “Crit­i­cal Com­mu­nism” in An­to­nio Labri­o­la (1843–1904) were be­lieved to have been lost. Both films were found dur­ing the pre­pa­ra­tions for the ex­hi­bi­tion.

The Aus­trian Gün­ter Peter Straschek as well as Hart­mut Bi­t­om­sky, Harun Faroc­ki, and Helke San­der were part of the first class to be­gin study­ing at the Deutsche Film- und Fernse­hakademie (Ger­man Film and Tele­vi­sion Acade­my, DFFB) in West Ber­lin in 1966. The film stu­dents as­so­ci­at­ed with the New Left and doc­u­ment­ed so­cial problems, re­cord­ed de­mon­s­tra­tions, and sup­port­ed cam­paigns. Straschek’s first film, Hoo­ray for Mrs. E. (1966), is a sober por­trait of a mother who sup­ple­ments her wel­fare in­come with pros­ti­tu­tion. His West­ern for the SDS (1967–68) por­trays the de­vel­op­ment of the left as a learn­ing pro­cess among wo­m­en who shar­p­en their aware­ness in the move­ment but cont­in­ue to have no say. The con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the film is shown in the DFFB week­ly news­reel Re­quiem for a Com­pany (1969). The West­ern was con­fis­cat­ed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion, and eigh­teen stu­dents who sid­ed with Straschek were ex­pelled from the acade­my. The “rev­o­lu­tio­nary film work” to which they de­vot­ed them­selves in th­ese months (Straschek and Meins made films with stu­dents from Frank­furt) soon came to a stand­still. Straschek’s On the Con­cept of “Crit­i­cal Com­mu­nism” in An­to­nio Labri­o­la points to the chasm be­tween work­ers and in­tel­lec­tu­als and de­scribes the “d­if­fi­cul­ties of the rev­o­lu­tion” (Labri­o­la) with a sharp sense of hu­mor.

In the ear­ly 1970s, Straschek turned to film his­to­ry. While work­ing on his Hand­book against Cin­e­ma (1975), he came across the top­ic that would oc­cu­py him un­til his death: the ex­ile of film­mak­ers from Nazi Ger­many. Over 2000 peo­ple work­ing in the film in­dus­try were forced to flee the Nazis, from celebri­ties such as Bil­ly Wilder and Lotte H. Eis­n­er to the count­less now for­got­ten ac­tors, ed­i­tors, and writ­ers. Straschek was usu­al­ly the first and of­ten the on­ly one to take an in­ter­est in their lives. The tele­vi­sion se­ries broad­cast by WDR fea­tures in­ter­views with fif­ty of them. The cin­e­ma­tog­ra­phy is most­ly stat­ic and unu­su­al­ly strict in com­po­si­tion. Straschek’s eye is as pre­cise as it is sen­si­tive: a per­sis­tent gaze that sheds light on the de­nied past.

He al­so trained his eye in cin­e­ma—­for ex­am­ple, the un­com­pro­mis­ing work of film­mak­ers Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huil­let, with whom he main­tained a friend­ship be­gin­n­ing in the mid-1960s. The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures Straub and Huil­let’s In­tro­duc­tion to Arnold Schoen­berg’s “Ac­com­pan­i­ment to a Cin­e­ma­to­graph­ic Scene” (1972). In it, Straschek reads let­ters from the 1920s in which Schoen­berg shar­p­ly re­jects Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky’s an­ti-Semitic re­marks.

The ex­hi­bi­tion was de­signed by the Ber­lin-based artist Er­an Schaerf.

About the HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig se­ries

Gün­ter Peter Straschek: Emi­gra­tion – Film – Politics is the fourth ex­hi­bi­tion in the pro­ject se­ries HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig. For Yil­maz Dziewior, the di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, the ex­hi­bi­tion on Gün­ter Peter Straschek ex­em­pli­fies the gen­er­al ap­proach of the in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary se­ries HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig, which ques­tions the con­ven­tions of the in­sti­tu­tion’s own work and ex­pands them pro­duc­tive­ly in a va­ri­e­ty of ways.

The ex­hi­bi­tion was pro­duced in co­op­er­a­tion with WDR Köln. It is sup­port­ed by the Ger­man Fed­er­al Cul­tu­r­al Foun­da­tion. Ad­di­tio­n­al sup­port comes from the HERE AND NOW group of mem­bers of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig e. V. and the Storch Foun­da­tion.

Film and Event Pro­gram

Click here to down­load the pro­gram of films and events for the ex­hi­bi­tion HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig. Gün­ter Peter Straschek: Emi­gra­tion – Film – Politics.


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