SCREEN: The Balcony by Luzie Meyer

Artist: Luzie Meyer

Title: The Balcony

Curated by: Ana Iwataki and Marion Vasseur Raluy

Screening: August 9 – 29, 2017

Year: 2016

Duration: 18’15”

In Process of Adaptation

If I were to become the outcome of my author’s thoughts and her honest preoccupations, what kind of film could I grow into?  Let’s pursue an answer with this query from a dialogue in which a Thief and a Judge meet in a courtroom:

“If I’m to be a model judge, you should be a model thief. If you are a fake thief, I will become a fake judge.”

These lines belong to the oeuvre of another author; he reflected upon social circumstances of his time. His lines have been reinterpreted on several occasions: as films, plays and other sorts of cultural productions. This might be a familiar scene for many audiences but a certain peculiarity is revealed—the reality of this trial depends on the veracity of the thief’s testimony. A dialectic relation between two characters has been established. The existence of one could not be possible without the realness of a particular “other”. This testimony seems to be an interesting metaphor of the potential that lies within fiction: Truth may produce fictions and fictions may produce states of truth.

Let’s go back to our first question: What kind of film could I become? A first impulse is to embrace a linear narration, from start to finish, respecting a logical order of sequences. Footage, sounds, lights and staging imitate life with perfection. The audience is an omnipresent witness of the events occurring in the house of illusions, an upmarket brothel depicted as a house of infinite mirrors and theaters. The motivations of our characters are clear and their function in the story would never be confusing. The narrative arc would correspond to the classic canon respecting the order between exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. I could adhere to the laws of plausible and pursue a sensation of realness.  In this pursuit of adaptation honesty is also a question and nothing could be more unreal than a highly aestheticized film.

If my challenge is to embody a sort of realism that could match the needs of our times this would definitely not be my style of film. Could I take illusionism as my starting point to construct a sensation of the real? Nowadays, fragmentation seems to be the ruler of our perception. If we live in a discontinuous reality, then the only real way I could become this film would be to play along with the rules of dispersion. I shall embrace then the shape of a scattered oeuvre and propose pieces of a puzzle for my audience to reconstruct. The words of a female narrator would re-interpret of the original plot. The audience will have no clear idea how she has arrived to the house of illusions and her motivations are kept obscure. The only dialogues would be between her, a general, a bishop and a judge. Her identity is unclear, as well as the true nature of these gentleman.

“So… do you plead guilty or not guilty?”
“Whatever you want.”
“You have to plead something!”
“Alright, I plead guilty, I confess I have stolen.”
“No! No! No! No!!”
“No?” she says confused.
“Let’s start again. Do you plead guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty your Honor.”
“Call me my Lord.”
“Not guilty my Lord.”
“Tell me about the things you stole…”

 The interrogation continues.

“Look, you have to be a model thief. You have to be credible; if you are a fake thief I would become a fake judge. Tell me, what else did you steal?”
“I only stole a loaf of bread.”
“A bread!? Sublime! Sublime!”  the judge whispers.

The judge will try to dominate her words. But as the trial continues we realize that she will not give into indoctrination.

“I also stole a scarf.”
“A scarf! Now we come to the core of the affair. A scarf! And what were you planning to do with that scarf? Who were you planning to strangle?”

She refuses to confess and tortures the Judge with her denial. Finally she says:
“You want me to be a thief? If you want me to be a thief, crawl. I would like you to crawl.”

In this very moment the essential truth of my narrator is revealed: she is the author of these lines. This is not just another adaptation; this is now her own oeuvre. She will punish these male characters, displacing them, questioning their function in the story. I will embrace the shape of a novel that is being read. Going along with her words, I will combine several gestures of discontinuity: pixilated images, unsynchronized foley and slow motion. Her handwriting would become the titles that would enunciate every new chapter. I will disguise myself in a documentary form, resembling a “behind the scenes” format. By utilizing strategies of filmmaking in an innovative manner I achieve critical distance. No set design or luxurious props. No highly aestheticized shots, no tracking or cranes. The audience sees through my author’s eyes. She is not unseen, but also an actor and thus we come to understand that I’m the representation of her struggles. I remain true to the spirit of the original plot, but I emerge as her own oeuvre. In an inverted world the truthful is just a moment within the fake. I represent her questions regarding social hierarchies and authorship while convincing the audience that I’m actually nothing but the Truth. Because within every fiction lays a potential new reality.

-Natalia Rolón

Luzie Meyer was born in Tübingen, GE in 1990 and currently lives in Berlin. She was educated in fine arts at the Städelschule Frankfurt, as well as in philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Recent performances, videos and readings include the Montreal Biennale of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Prague, Simultanhalle Cologne, Kunstverein Wiesbaden. She is part of Marq von Schlegell’s Pure Fyction Collective and was awarded a residency at the Cité des Arts, Paris in 2018.

Natalia Rolón, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is an artist based in Frankfurt Am Main.

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)

Luzie Meyer, The Balcony, 2016, (still from film)