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Promised Land
2013, HD, 16:9, sound, no dialogues, 11:21 min
Learning to Fly
2011, HD, sound, English subtitles, 08:45 min
Down the Rabbit-Hole
2010, HD, no sound, 06:35 min
You are the Center of the World
2015, 4k, cinemascope, sound, 16:42 min

Julia Charlotte Richter

was born in 1982 in Gießen. She studied in Kassel in Class of Björn Melhus and at HBK Braunschweig. She participated in many international shows and received awards and scholarships, including Project Funding, Bösenberg-Stiftung Meinersen in 2015. Also she had solo exhibitions in galleries such as Kunsthaus Essen or Galerie Perpetuel, Frankfurt am Main. Her works have been shown in film and video festivals including IKFF - Hamburg International Short Film Festival and many others.

The work of Julia Charlotte Richter demonstrates that art has the ability to comment and critically reflect the contemporaneity, without being cheap or superficial. The engaged position of the artist as a part of the world is naturally implied in her work. 

The work revolves around human beings facing critical moments, crisis or changes. Those situations include small individual tragedies such as sudden encounter with death as well as global crisis affecting whole societies as for example global market crisis or civil war. However, in all cases the author is not focusing on explaining the full perspective, she rather focuses on observing the lonely individuals facing the inevitable situations with odd prospects, their acts, motivations and limits. Them as individuals. She does not try to convince us about her interpretation, but rather remind us of necessity to make our own position on what we see. The author is showing us the world and the individuals in problems, stating that every single political or social event is in fact built out of many individual stories and all this stories were experienced by someone. What is to be remembered is that although we are now observing this stories, the position could easily switch and the observer could become the observed. 

For Návštěva #3 I chose four works sharing a similar form of short and intensive observing: Is there a way to itemise amount of sadness? Can we gauge despair? In “Promised Land” (2013) we can perhaps see the aftermath of global market crisis from 2008 on individual level. We follow the group of men who seems to be a account managers or CEOs as they sit around a table in meeting room. But as the meeting starts instead of graphs we encounter conscience. The “Learning to Fly” (2011) is different image - decent elder German men gather to sing together. Through the words of pop culture song deeper message emerges. They are learning to fly. Third act is a scene from a children's room, where teenage girls are sleeping on the floor. Perhaps it is the end of usual girls meeting or maybe it is the end of the first big adult-like party. “Down the Rabbit-Hole" (2010) is a very silent portrait of almost invisible situation, which through absence of wakefulness explore hidden meanings of adolescence. Final image is the film “You are the Centre of the World” (2015) where the group of youngsters wander through the city where something is missing. The silence is so dominant that it gets very loud. When we don't know what is going on, everything has suddenly a new meaning.

Jan Martinec

Julia Ch. Richter

author: Jan Martinec

Could you tell me what was the breaking point for you to decide to become an artist?

I do not think there was a breaking point. It was like a development. When I was a child it was easier just to be an artist, I think. Now, I always reflect on questions about me as an artist and what makes me an artist. When I came to university, I started studying to become a teacher. Then, after one year, I could not stop developing an producing my works. I realized, that doing my artworks is the most important thing for me.

In your work “Promised land” we can see a typical image of group of well dressed and self confident managers or directors in a meeting room, crying and being broken. I read it as a comment to a recent economical shakes, pointing out that there is actually a real people behind all of the fails. Were you interested in them, their fates, or you wanted to imagine what those people look like, perhaps what they feel?

This work was made, among other aspects, out of a certain kind of fury. Yes, it is a comment on economical shakes as well as the figures and systems responsible for it. I actually tried to imagine how those people might look like. In my research I focused on “real” sources as well as on the presentation of manager types in the media (movies, series, advertising, magazines). Nevertheless, it is a scenery I made up, also as an outsider person who does not really understand what truly happens within these circles of people. I think the work does not clarify what the men feel. It becomes obvious that they are shaken and upset but the viewer cannot find out what happened or what is the reason for it. You, as a viewer, can only guess what happened. I was interested in creating this pure situation and to watch these men (the actors in their roles) being confronted with it. And for me it was clear that there will be no escape – they are trapped in this situation.

In  “Learning to Fly” a choir of elder German men sing a song in English, and the same image reoccurs in your later work “You are the Center of The World” again as a counter side to a group of young boys searching their way through abandoned town - what does that image stand for to you?

First of all, choirs can create high emotions - I feel very touched especially by choirs of old men. I always remember my grandfather who used to sing in such a choir. These memories are connected to childhood feelings of safety and protection. But these aspects represent my subjective view only.

In addition to this personal view, the choirs in my films comment on something. This refers to the tradition of the Greek Theatre. The choirs in “Learning to Fly” and “You are the Center of the World” create meaning and refer to a younger generation. In “Learning to Fly” we do not see younger people but we are reminded of them by learning that the old men used to be young themselves and maybe have grandchildren who are teenagers. The song text offers many images and opens up the story of one's life. In “You are the Center of the World”, the choir comments on the scenery in a more direct way – or maybe, it is even more like an anti-comment. The first song, at the beginning of the film, states that “all will be good again”. So, after a time of trouble or fear, everything will be ok again. This song (an old folk song) can be extremely comforting but in the film it becomes bizarre. Seeing the boys wandering around in this abandoned town creates a feeling of hopelessness and it becomes clear that nothing is ok and probably will not be ok again. The second song reminds me of a lullaby – the men sing of “red sunset” etc. The day comes to an end and this comments on the boys in the scene: It is evening, it gets dark and they still wait and wait – unable to act or change the situation.

It seems to me that there is a latent sense of catastrophe or mayhem (chaos?) in many of your works, but you never describe it nor give it any space and focus only on individuals and their way of coping with the given situation. Is that a reflection of current situation, where we are overwhelmed with different kinds of catastrophes in media almost on daily basis, slowly starting to be indifferent to them?

On the one hand, yes, this indifference plays a role. The flood of catastrophes presented in the media do influence my work. One main question in my work was and still is “What kind of world and society is left for the following generations?” And here, it also plays a role that I deal with a look at a sated society of fabricated dreams, which seem to assure against the fear of the future. The characters in my work seem to live in a safe, rich world where media and economy show them what dreams they have to have. I create situations, where these constructions collapse, where something is wrong. I wonder what could happen when society's structures become fragile and fall apart.

Do you think that it is possible to divide art to political and non-political. Do you think there might be a dividing line between such two fields?

Isn't art always political? What is political?

In my opinion, it is important to be aware of one's responsibility as an artist, to take up a position and to raise questions and irritations.

Is there a topic, which you wouldnt like to work with as an artist?

Hard to say. I do not create my works on the basis of a certain topic. Of course, I have reoccurring questions and themes but I always start working on the basis of certain images that pop into my mind. Then, as a next step, I develop the atmosphere, the scenery and the narrative aspects. So, I do not like getting a topic and then producing a work that deals with it. I cannot really exclude certain topics – who knows what will become relevant for me as an artist?

Although you use a fictional characters in your work and almost no speech, it is possible to clearly recognize references to certain situations or people - as for example the image of crying bankers. Would you consider yourself a socially and politically engaged artist?

Yes, I am. This is part of my position as well as of my responsibility. My art is my way of raising questions and irritations – I cannot offer answers or solutions but I am able to pose questions and to make certain issues the subjects of discussion.

Would you like to make a feature film at some point?

Oh, I would love to! I don’t know if I had enough energy to deal with such a long period of shooting (for myprevious works, we had 2-4 days of shooting, not more), but I am definitely thinking of it. Maybe, at some point, if I am lucky enough, I will do it.

What is the biggest influence you had in past months for your creation? Is there something occupying your mind currently? Is there something you work on now? What is your next project?

At the moment, I am developing several new works. Just a few hints:

One project will deal with a fairy-tale situation where the viewer becomes the witness of a spooky scene in the woods (children as actors will be involved). Another project will be, in parts, some sort of re-enactment of an old movie from the 60ies and it deals with power, fury and gender relations. Additionally I am thinking of a project that will be shot in a cableway in the mountains. Here, a really claustrophobic scene will unfold...

Thank you and may the force be with you!