Die Distanz zwischen mir und meinen Verlusten (The Distance Between Myself and My Losses)

Marcel Odenbach

Cologne, Germany, 1953
  • Date: 
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  • Media description: 
    Video (Digital Betacam and DVD)
  • Duration: 
    10 min. 11 sec.
  • Colour: 
    Colour and black/white
  • Sound: 
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  • Image credit: 
    Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York (http://www.eai.org)

The title of Marcel Odenbach’s video, Die Distanz zwischen mir und meinen Verlusten (The Distance Between Myself and My Losses), gives one a sense of the meanings hidden behind an enigmatic collage of images from various sources both recorded by the artist and from archives – gay pornography, war films and so on – that have been manipulated and broken up in order to construct a story about identity and memory. Odenbach uses a formal technique of alienation, masking the screen with horizontal and vertical black strips, allowing only partial details to be seen, so the complete image is kept hidden from the audience. This makes the viewer a voyeur, unable to make a literal, complete reading of the image, an experience that actively awakens desires, dreams and visions, a mechanism that helps complete the shaping of the work’s meaning. The stark contrast between these images and the soundtrack, consisting of fragments from Schubert’s romantic opera Der Erlkönig and Burundi funeral songs, cloaks the work with a ghostly, polytextual tone. Taken as a whole, this considerably complex creation is an attempt to appeal to the human subconscious from a number of juxtaposed viewpoints.

Lola Hinojosa