Two women live in one of Cologne’s largest private houses, a villa built in 1912 – with a cat, a dog and their extensive private art collection. A precise camera captures the fastidious furnishings and design of both house and garden, through which the inhabitants, their staff and visitors appear to move in orderly paths. We rarely see the protagonists in close-up, instead they blend in to an overall picture, which holds the viewer’s attention in a symbiosis between art and life. Deliberately rhythmic static camera shots allow us time to take in the myriad details. Just before it moves on, the film shows us a cross-section of this unique place, where living space and art space mingle.
Every day we are bombarded with images from many different countries, making us feel we’re in touch with the world and understand what’s going on. Beneath TV footage of demonstrations, uprisings, exchanges of gunfire, conflagrations and floods crawls a line of text, a news ticker that speaks of the subjectivity of our perception: “There are many things I don’t know, but I see them, and what I see, am I.”
A car journey through a landscape, villages, an industrial area. We are looking straight ahead, only occasionally to the side. All is silent. Here language exists only in the form of a literary text crawling across the windscreen. In three episodes a narrator considers his own experiences and those of his family during the bombardments in the Bosnian War. He tries to find connections, to make logical sense of them. But the journey into the past opens up a chasm between the images of the present and the text about what happened in 1992. The lack of soundtrack, the dead silence, takes possession of the images. From time to time the very words cast doubt the communicability of the experience, contradict themselves. The destination is not a specific place (of remembrance).
Julian lives in a small town in northern Florida – with his mother, without a job, without a future. When he’s not hanging out with his friends he goes to the American Veterans’ Club to recite one of his patriotic poems. Once a year he leaves his scruffy home to take part in the 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York. He greets policemen with a “God bless you sir. Thank you for serving” in passing. Julian’s naive patriotism stems from his lack of personal prospects. Thomas Haley’s subtle portrait of this “poor white boy”, clinging to the American Dream, at the same time describes the inner turmoil of a society traumatised by the events of 9/11.