80WSE Gallery, in collaboration with the Berlin-based CHEAP Collective, is pleased to present the exhibition The Magic Flute, Part Two: A Film in Pieces, by Michel Auder and Michael Stickrod, on view from June 7 – August 12, 2016. The exhibition consists of eight looping projections, installed in various configurations throughout the 3,500 square foot gallery space, which together, along with a single soundtrack, comprise the complete film.
The Magic Flute, Part Two: A Film in Pieces is based on The Magic Flute Part One: An Opera in 6 Steps, which took place as a series of live “open rehearsals” at 80WSE Gallery, December 1 – 5, 2015. The production critically transformed Mozart’s celebrated 1791 musical drama through re-imagining and disordering the narrative of the original opera in to a series of six tableaux vivants, combining elaborately constructed installations with performed sequences.
The Magic Flute, Part One: An Opera in 6 Steps was the outcome of a year-long collaboration between an international core group of artists including Jonathan Berger, Jesse Bransford, Vaginal Davis, Roger Matthew Grant, Susanne Sachsse, Jackie Shemesh, and Jamie Stewart/Xiu Xiu, all of whom worked closely with 30 NYU undergraduate studio art students on set and costume design for the production. Additionally, NYC based artists Damien Davis, Michael Forrey, Benjamin Hatcher, Sawyer Mitchell, Hugh O’Rourke, Garo Sparo, and Various Projects Inc. all contributed specially designed pieces to the project. Xiu Xiu’s score for the production was performed live by NY CHORAL’s 20-piece choir, the 10-piece Horkheimer Arkestra, and Jamie Stewart. Students from The New School for Public Engagement served as the supporting cast.
Michel Auder and Michael Stickrod filmed continuously throughout the development and presentation of The Magic Flute, Part One: An Opera in 6 Steps. The two accumulated nearly 12 hours of footage, ranging from the sensational to the mundane, capturing meetings, set construction and installation, rehearsals, performances, and the spaces in between, absent of any apparent event. Auder and Stickrod’s engagement with the production as filmmakers parts from conventional, singular notions of how source material of this nature might translate to a completed film. They view their footage neither as recording the subject of a documentary nor as capturing performances, whose ultimate purpose is for rendering a piece of cinema. Rather, Auder and Stickrod’s approach to the act of filming itself seems to have generated every kind of footage, conjuring every kind of film imaginable.
Furthermore, through the process of editing this raw material in to what has become The Magic Flute, Part Two: A Film in Pieces, Auder and Stickrod have abandoned the potential for the film to be fully realized in any one of the myriad of ways that the eclectic types and styles of footage might suggest it could be. Rather, they have re-entered the bank of material they generated, almost as if it was found, and isolated seemingly incidental visual motifs that span across genre. In this regard, the eight looping projections, which comprise the finished film, in addition to how they are situated throughout the space, relate and build on another through a sort of lyricism and poetics that these common visual threads produce. Objects that both enter and emerge from holes and orifices feature prominently, as do themes of mechanization, ritual, altered states, voyeurism and surveillance. Any understanding of what is staged versus what is a document has been obscured. So, too, has the location pictured in the film, further fractured by the fact that the footage was shot in the gallery and has now been placed back in to the space from which it came.