press release

Kurt Kren, who was born 1929 in Vienna, has not only won international reputation as one of the most important avant-garde film makers, he is also one of the most important contemporary artists in Austria. From the basic ingredients of pure cinema – movement, material, light and perception – Kurt Kren has developed his films, in which he not only experiments with light and perception but also with the existing parameters of the equipment and the materialism of the film roll.

Significant aspects of Kren's methods were already apparent during his first period at the end of the 'fifties and at the beginning of the 'sixties, which are layered in various ways: "extreme multiple exposures, single frames, time lapses, the use of masks and filters, the introduction of negative film material, unfocused sequences, manipulation of the sound track with the aid of scratches and etching, right up to a complicated cutting sequence that followed exactly planned diagrams" (Hans Hurch). This willingness to experiment in the technical sector corresponds to the motifs of his first films, fragmentary images of surrounding reality, which Kren assembled as short stories about trees, walls, paths, moving people or faces.

In the middle of the 'sixties, he filmed the "material actions" of Günter Brus and Otto Mühl, which was not conceived as a documentary, but became an independent work of art as a result of Kren's rhythmical deployment of takes. Kren moved to Germany at the beginning of the 'seventies.

Kren's oeuvre was subjected to another transformation in the 'eighties, during his sojourn in America in which he shot his "bad home movies". People and things are no longer seen from a fixed stand point, but from the most diverse camera perspectives. These images, which are tinged with melancholy, reflect the existential questions of permanence and change, existence and absence, commitment and freedom.

The Vienna Secession is paying tribute to Kurt Kren's life's work with a comprehensive exhibition that is not merely limited to his films, but also includes documentary material (musical scores, photographs, texts, etc.). Kren has chosen his most recent film "tausendjahrekino" ("Thousand Years Cinema") as the centre point of the exhibition.

Over a number of weeks, Kren filmed tourists on St.Stefan's Square for this exhibition, while these in turn were filming and photographing the cathedral. He used material that has an exposure rate of 2.4 and 8 frames pro second and filmed with extreme lenses of maximum focal length at a minimum distance. For the sound track Kren used a short sequence from Peter Lorre's film "Der Verlorene" ("The Lost One", Germany 1951) in which a drunk recognises a murderer who had been protected by the Nazis, speaks to him and keeps repeating: "Hey, I know you, I don't know how, but I know you..."

Kurt Kren is presenting the basic elements out of which his films are made in the Main Hall. The film is unravelled into photographic units frame by frame and, the following a deployment plan, run through the space like the images of a film projector. In this show Kren circumvents the art of moving pictures. He halts the dynamic flow if images and brings it to a standstill. Instead of cinematic perception, a natural perception of moving pictures develops.

PUBLICATION KURT KREN, 24 pages, colored illustrations, 4 b/w illustrations preface: Werner Würtinger; author: Peter Tscherkassky Secession 1996, ISBN 3-900803-79-X


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Kurt Kren
Film, Photographs, Musical Scores