DAPHNE AND THOMAS
What is the plot of this story ? It opens with an account of the life of Thomas, a frustrated artist who was unable to attend art school during German Democratic Republic, narrated by his daughter Daphne, who turns out to be a taxidermist in Berlin’s Natural History Museum. During a chance meeting there with a novelist whose life is peculiarly marked by corals, Daphne tells her the story of this creature with an extraordinary presumably posthumous destiny, while… But let’s not reveal any more about this disconcerting collection of destinies. This is the skill of Assaf Gruber, adept at eliciting or inventing these tales and discerning their most secret connections and matrices. Daphne and Thomas unfurls as a diptych in which echoes reverberate from one part to another.
A web is woven in which the bodies, materials, devices and places all play a mysterious role… a spa with colonial decorations, glass panes with multiple functions – to protect, to divide, to display – the Museum’s teratology “cabinet of curiosities”, an Alpine diorama or archived films from the DEFA, (the GDR’s state-owned film studio). These diffracted perspectives allow porosities to emerge, through which these micro-biographies collide with major moments in history, where institutions play a role in shaping destinies, while areas for art are obliquely challenged. Orchestrating a subtle play of contrasts and mirroring, Gruber highlights the entangled intricacies of time: retrospective, prospective, encapsulated, with its bifurcations and entrenchments. This is a political project, the challenge being to reconnect all that is disjointed and to trace the invisible subterranean fault lines while, as Daphne frets, “Maybe our world is just fine without intrigue”. (N.F.)
Original version : english, german. Subtitles : english. Script : Assaf Gruber. Image : Jutta Pohlmann, Frank Meyer. Editing : Janina Herhoffer et Assaf Gruber. Sound : Franck Bubenzer, Jochen Jezussek, Igor Klaczynski. Casting : Thomas Rudnik, Tina Pfurr, Caroline Clifford.
Production : Assaf Gruber. Production direction : Talking Projects (Barbara Simon), Eyal Vexler. Distribution : Assaf Gruber.
Filmography : The Conspicuous Parts, 2018. The Calling, 2017. Story of a Scared State, 2016. The Right, 2015. The Guardroom, 2015. Citizen in the Making, 2015. The Anonymity of the Night, 2014.
EP – Histoire(s) de Portrait
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