As part of the Biennial Film Programme, artist Declan Clarke will screen two recent short films, Cologne Overnight and On Our Own We Are Free to Do Many Things. This will be followed by a discussion with Sarah Perks, Director of Cornerhouse, Manchester where Clarke will explore some short films that have had an influence on his practice.
Here, Declan tells us more about his films that will be screened.
On Our Own We Are Free to Do Many Things depicts post revolutionary Romania and reflects on the shift of a former communist society into that of a marginalised EU hopeful. While clearly looking at how people revisit and portray their own history (in terms of the historicisation of the '89 Revolution) it also considers the potential of the void left when one ideology collapses and another is in the process of being forged and implemented.
Within this void it is often traditional institutions,
specifically the church and nationalism, that are the more
prominent and immediate beneficiaries of revolutions. The final
sequence of the film focuses on the urban tower blocks that were
constructed after the major earthquake that devastated Bucharest in
March 1977. It was from these areas that a significant number of
the people who occupied Plaza Universitate came from in 1989, and
where many still live. These tower blocks provide the backdrop for
the films surreal conclusion.
In 1945, after the end of the War, Heinrich Böll returned to his native Cologne to discover 70% of the city reduced to rubble. It's population had decreased from 770,000 to just 40,000 with 20,000 dead attributed to the Allied bombing campaign. The rest, rendered homeless, had fled. Deeply traumatised by this and his War experiences, Böll became a key figure in the post-war German literature that became known as Trümmerliteratur - literally the literature of the ruins. In the 1950s he began spending time in Ireland and found great solace in the country, which allowed him respite from post-war trauma of Germany.
Cologne Overnight presents Böll's experience and contrasts it with the fate of the country he became entranced by. As Ireland in the 1950s, itself deeply effected by ruin - brought about by poverty as opposed to war - evolved and developed through to the era of the Celtic Tiger, both the nation and Böll's legacy were to be fraught by the ironies and tragedy of history.