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Nuremberg 87

16-mm film, 1987 / 9 min / Voice: Angela Winkler / Festival d’Avignon

Created for the Avignon Festival in 1987 as a prologue to Figuren, a “Spectacle to Make Life Presentable”, Nuremberg 87 deals with the question of extermination (which was not without provoking some problems with the organisers of the festival).
Gérard Haller and myself wanted the images of the Nuremberg stadium to unfold against the background of the voice of Angela Winckler, a German actress. In her house overlooking the volcanoes of the Massif Central she had greeted us coldly, wishing to know what right we had to ask her, a German woman, to bear the responsibility for the deaths of six million people. She added that it was inconceivable for her to rely on her situation as an actress to say all this because of the obscenity it would involve, and that she could not say it as a mayor would have done in front of a war memorial. We told her that we wanted her to discover these first names during the recording. First names only, not last names, so as to have everybody caught in the net of memory. The first names had been drawn from the lists of the victims... We did not wish to escape untouched from it all.
We only made one take. Angela pronounced each name with an infinite slowness, as if the person in question would have appeared in front of her very eyes, moving from surprise to joy, from joy to tears, from tears to astonishment. Never again in my life have I experienced such a moment of reverence. It is this work that taught me about the Nazis’ hatred for the female side in men’s bodies. The challenge of the word and the invincible singularity of the human body, both of which haunt the Living Pictures, have sprung from here.

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