Interviewed in Zagreb on 25 September 2015
Going through the book entitled Film Unframed: A History of Austrian Avant-Garde Cinema, edited by Peter Tscherkassky, one effortlessly discovers the rich history and versatility of the artistic production in our neighbouring country. The book has been issued by the Sixpack Film company, a wondrously agile production and distribution house, which finds time and space for education as well. It was founded by Tscherkassky himself, who a long, long time ago, in the early 1978 attended a lecture by P. Adams Sitney in the Austrian Film Museum. It was then that the obsession with the medium of experimental film, lasting throughout several decades, began. He acquired a Super−8 camera and was inspired by the work of the well-known Viennese Actionists, yet he quickly moved to a relatively more calm and peaceful camp of artists who in their works question the very format of film, its structure, physicality and texture. Today, alongside Peter Kubelka, Peter Tscherkassky is the most widely known Austrian experimental filmmaker, better known in the wider public for his extensive opus in the domain of found footage film.
This author commonly and enthusiastically demonstrates and demystifies the minutiose handiwork entirely taking place in manual interventions onto the film tape, hoping to inspire one of the young souls present to follow his path or any similar action. The author himself in one of his early statements said that the found footage aestheticism is a sort of a response to the general domination of electronic imagery, a conscious path towards the sources of the medium which is to be manually deconstructed and getting your hands dirty in order to understand it better. Tscherkassky, as opposed to some other names of the Austrian school, also demystifies his own process of appropriation in the very selection of raw material: the film somehow finds him, and the doors are open even for fun fragments of exploitative nudist film, pre-pornographic history oases of naiveté and nudity. Precisely such material was used in his most recent film The Exquisite Corpus, following the premiere of which at the autumn edition of the experimental film festival 25fsp in Zagreb, he held a lecture in front of a numerous audience.
ORIS: I would like us to begin this interview with your latest film, The Exquisite Corpus. I saw it yesterday. Is your lecture going to be only about that film? Will you go frame by frame, explaining your work process?
Tscherkassky: Normally, I talk about one single film which I show in its original format before the lecture. Then we project it digitally and I explain it shot by shot. I use it as an example, describing how I create my films because the core technique remains the same. The core technique is sitting in the darkroom with raw footage and hand printing the found footage frame by frame.