We are blogging this week about a place that has shown much love for our Make-u-believe antics in the past few months, but also that has given us much inspiration over the years, the genius which comes from Germany!
We managed to get some time in Cologne to visit galleries and take a close look at some of the artwork of our favourite artists from a movement of huge influence to us, ‘expressionism’.
Metropolis Feature film 1927
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.
Metropolis is an incredible inspiration to so many; made in 1925 and released in 1927 it had the highest cost of a film to it’s date of production. Created by the amazing Fritz Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou the silent film surpaces its time, with pioneering visual effects, it is an epic show of futuristic genius.
The main inspiration for us is not only the incredible sets and costumes, but it is the poinient social metaphors that still ring true to class divides today; portraying characters attempting “to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city” and ‘the heart of the machine’ being ran by the ‘workers’.
In an interview Fritz Langs explained his inspiration for the now iconic landscape of ‘Metropolis’: “the film was born from my first sight of the skyscrapers in New York in October 1924”. He had visited New York for the first time and remarked “I looked into the streets – the glaring lights and the tall buildings – and there I conceived Metropolis.”
Controversial when released and lost throughout history due to censors and cuts, there has only ever been a 95% restored film, recovered and constructed in 2012. We completely agree with any ‘greatest film’ ratings and highly recommend this as a must watch film if you haven’t already come across Freder and Maria’s powerful story, clips of which are shown here in ‘Radio-gaga’.
Our love for Fitz Lang’s work shall be ever present with the make-u-believe team as imagery from the film, as above, is hung on our studio walls to this day. We enjoyed looking back at pieces created several years ago inspired by the films incredible robotic costume, specifically focussing on the aspects of the human machine and deadening the expression through manipulating the eyes.
Science fiction used to highlight messages, such as Fitz Langs social metaphors and even our modern consumer issues like the Kill the K-cup campaign, leads us to look at using our art form to observe our current global state. We felt german expression is the perfect ‘trend’ to base our body art piece.
This trend was a direct reaction against realism. Its practitioners used extreme distortions in expression to show an inner emotional reality rather than what is on the surface.
One of our favourite German artists, who portrayed her experiences through this expressive form is Kathe Kollwitz. We have admired her work for many years and felt the painter, print maker and sculpturs harrowing and exquisite work would be our influence for a body art collaborative painting.
Kathe Kollwitz created self portraits throughout her life, giving an honest look at her aging form
An artist who’s life was riddled with war, anxiety and suspected possible Alice in Wonderland syndrome
. When looking at Kathe Kollwitz’ life, we are even more saddened that she died just before the end of the second world war, so she wasn’t able to witness in her life, where she lived, what she had implored during the first world war in a published statement:
“There has been enough of dying! Let not another man fall!”
Her legacy of work, with its beautifully structured drawings of hands and carefully captured anguish, is both heart breaking and breathtaking. We don’t feel the photos below do justice to her art, her museum is well worth visiting if you have the opportunity.
We felt inspired into creating a piece combining Fritz Langs ideas of a gulf seperating the city and Kathe Kollwitz wood cut techiniques but also her powerful words that:“Genius can probably run on ahead and seek out new ways. But the good artists who follow after genius – and I count myself among these – have to restore the lost connection once more.”
With last year being the anniversary of 25 years marking the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have developed a piece exploring the idea that the wall has not fallen, it still exists in many forms as people are still seperated. The concept that the lost connection is ever present and it is a global issue, perceptions and dogma maybe the root cause and the extremes in our world are shown with an interpretation of social class divides and inequality, in ‘People divided’
‘People Divided’ by Make-u-believe
The fantastic models were patiently painted and posed to show the extremes between western portrayals of females in media, to profit and wealth driven society, to excessive consumption; and the contrasting extremes with oppression and effects our choices have to other peoples basic human needs. We used the Berlin map to represent the spread of seperation and created with it our ‘world map’ meeting table, to show these diveded people “around the world.” To see some wonderfully captured moments of our material world and the divides we have it is well worth watching ‘Samsara’, this by far, is on our Make-u-believe ‘greatest films’ list also with Metropolis, it’s well worth watching in HD.