Mise-en-Peau. How is This Still A Thing? – A Multimedia Installation on Othering in the German Film and Television Landscape

Project start:
Project completion:

Therese Koppe, Reinaldo Almeida and Hao Dieu Do constitute formats for more political engagement in film and its industry. The "Political Film Forum", which they launched together with the IKF, sees itself as a general platform for reflecting on film politics, politics in film, and film as politics. With their artistic research project, the students stage a case study that uses artistic strategies to reveal film-inherent structures of political decision-making and action.

A documentary research is the starting point for the installation "Mise-en-Peau", a word play on the well-known film concept of Mise-en-Scène, the placing and staging of actors, light and scenery. Peau (French for skin) is the concrete, physiognomic surface on which power relations and social distinctions are still played out. In many German film and television productions, ethnic characteristics like gender, still seem to be entrenched in narrow, stereotypical roles. The representation of so-called people with a migration background, sometimes ironically described by themselves as "vibrational background" (MaximGorki Theater), largely reproduces clichés and remains in social milieus that run counter to an equal staging of diversity. The Mise-en-Peau project is a realistic utopia that aims to explore and investigate the question of representation in an artistic-activist way. In interviews with People Of Color (POC) actors, producers and directors, the team wants to collect audiovisual material that serves the further development of the installation partially being used in it. The result will be an audiovisual installation in three rooms that questions subconscious viewing habits and raises awareness for new perspectives on the representation of minorities in the German film and television landscape.

Installation description: Revealing diverse processes of distinction in film

  • room 1 - Role.

Which terms describe a character? How do these terms affect the next steps of the production? Who describes whom with what intention? In the first room of the installation, the role description of a screenplay is taken up. Scene excerpts from German screenplays, historical and current examples from film and television are shown in which roles of people with a migration background are described.

  • Room 2 - Casting.

What processes lead to casting? In a casting production, various actors and actresses who are candidates for the role in Room 1 are shown. What physiognomic features are used to assign roles? What is associated with the appearance of an individual and to what extent does this determine the casting process? The actors are then shown in a frontal shot. They speak directly to the audience and talk about their experiences of othering. Using the documentary material from the research, statements and experiences of POC actors are incorporated into the casting videos and contrasted.

  • Room 3 - The Scene.

Stagings referencing the development and casting processes are projected on a screen. In part, the staging counteracts the expectations built up in the first rooms. The staging intends to subvert gender, ethnic as well as physical stereotypes. The intention is to present this new production as an installation to the audience, as a realistic utopia: as if the demographic conditions in Germany would actually find representation in film and television. The PFF will restage three or more scenes from German films in order to analyze the representations and their reception. Accompanying the installation, a publication will conclude the "Mise-en-Peau" project. The basis for the publication will be the materials from the documentary research from interviews and encounters with People Of Color (POC). Statements, quotes, images, sensory contexts and findings are to be recorded and archived in paper form.

Project lead: Therese Koppe, Reinaldo Almeida, Hao Dieu Do