Gropius Bau

Halloween Special: The Digital Prometheus

Film Screening | Ausgewählt von Ed Atkins

“Happy Birthday!!!”
Ed Atkins, 2014
DCP, 6 minutes
In English

James Whale, 1931
DCP, 70 minutes
In English

“Even Pricks”
Ed Atkins, 2013
DCP, 8 minutes
In English

“Bride of Frankenstein”
James Whale, 1935
DCP, 75 minutes
In English

I suppose it’s the lonely monster that most overtly lumbers from James Whale’s films into my own sordid little videos. Shelley’s Monster, pointedly dehumanised in Whale’s movies (“dehumanized” as symptomatic pejorative – a pejorative denied by the films themselves), becomes a surrogate for an implicit critique of socio-cultural norms and the violence that arises as an all-too predictable response to The Monster’s difference, its very existence. The Monster is a container for prejudicial treatment; a moral vessel. The lesson is overt, even if the movies’ contemporaneity is, I think, surprising. Whale was an out gay man in Hollywood, and suffered the consequences, and perhaps more than any other director of the time he found allegorical respite in the films he made, using them as a kind of complicating corrective to a censorious culture of terrible double standards, pointedly housed within genre, a place that might normally be expected to chorus presumption. Whale’s Monster is shunned and bullied and reviled by a Christian society to mirror the cinema audience, who are subsequently made to interrogate their own seeming virtue, and the systems that support that fallacy. “Bride of Frankenstein” in particular interrogates normative structures contemporary to the film’s release which still pervade. The family perverted throughout – from Frankenstein’s paternity, to The Bride’s agony, to The Monster’s oedipal desires – are none too subtle to today’s viewer, but their campy, vivid pastiche of normative models makes for an extraordinary, tragic travesty. I think, however, that the most radical relations in the films are the two that, to me, appear as mirrors of one another in either film: firstly, with the little girl picking flowers by the lake in “Frankenstein”; and with the blind hermit in “Bride …”. Both are founded on innocence – both point outside of their referent to a kind of transcendence – both are destroyed by ignorance – both are characterised by easy love, unfettered by paralysing code. The most poignant scene – the scene that plays out upstairs, in my desperate show, “Old Food” – is between The Monster and the blind hermit. In quick succession, The Monster is easily accepted, afforded, cared for, loved and loved. He is given shelter and prayed over, and in exchange, The Monster easily loves the hermit. Their status and their rejection by society join them in enviable exile, where, albeit briefly, they can love one another with a profound freedom.

Worth noting that The Monster is made up of chunks of dead people, reanimated. I used to think that my work was different and that no-one had to die for my monsters to come to life. But I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of proximity, temporal and spatial, to death, to dead bodies. Pretty sure plenty of people died to make my monsters, too – I just don’t know who they are.

Happy Halloween.

Ed Atkins

Tickets & Termine

Halloween Special: The Digital Prometheus


Gropius Bau, Kino


€ 5 / ermäßigt € 3


  • Di 31.10.2017, 19:00


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