Katharina Pethke: PORTRAITFILM - Positions between closeness and distance

The scientific-artistic research project deals with questions of closeness and distance in portrait film.

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Film – as a time-based medium and a combination of image and sound – can formally unite different forms of portraits: from the classic portrait painting to the photographic medium to the deconstructivist approach, the most diverse forms of portraits in the image are conceivable. All forms of literary portraits can also be found on a linguistic level, not to mention the aspect of using sound to describe a person.

Presence and absence of the portrayed person are matters of correlation: What is the relationship between the person portraying and the person being portrayed? Do they know each other? Is the person to be portrayed still alive? If so: What participation does the portrayed have in the creation of his/her image?

The first aim of the work is to define the gradations of presence and absence on the level of image and sound in a cross-genre matrix of referentiality – to help define the formal aspects of portrait in film and consequently describe different modes of approaching the portrayed.

The next step is to explore the conditions and aspects of closeness and distance in the content of specific film examples: How are aspects of the relationship between filmmaker and the portrayed person exercised on a cinematic level and what do the reveal about this constellation? The Triangle of Communication by Bill Nichols serves as the basis of this investigation and is being expanded to further examine the specific conditions of turning a subject into the object of a film.

The artistic work is an essayistic film (titled EVERYMAN AND I) made from found footage material, which deals with the conditions of a certain relationship and the struggle with questions of representability from a subjective perspective. The game with authenticity and interpretative sovereignty in a scramble of relationship issues is used and developed in various chapters of the approach.