HDV, 4 minutes, 2014, Participating: Alice Bergeron, Mary St-Amand Williamson, Karsten Kroll, Maud Llorente
In a clinical, yet sombre space a person on a table is gently moved, pushed and pulled by three people as if she were an inanimate puppet. They manipulate her extremely slack body in a controlled, experienced way. They turn and rotate her, bring her in a seated position, lift arms and legs as if to check her body.
Contrasting to her slack body, the person on the table speaks clearly and continuously in English about social behaviour in a scientific type of speech. Her uttering can be understood as observations and reflections of the situation or her sensations, or like appeals to the movers. It is like an inner monologue that changes continuously from intimate and contradictory revelations about herself to scientific concepts of social behaviour and deviance.
At the same time the three movers exchange short instructions in French to coordinate their handling, thus demonstrating their indifference towards the person on the table and emphasising her isolation. The inanimate person represents a rational being who is separate from her physical body. The video shows simultaneously a team at work and a person in isolation. Though physically very close, they are two separate units that don’t respond to each other.
The video is about disrupted communication, the clashing of cultures represented in the two languages and ways of speech, the conflict between the rational and the physical. It is about indifference, where physical proximity does not prevent isolation and separation.
Bettina Hoffmann’s videos are located at the intersection of photography, sculpture, film, dance and theatre. She is filming carefully choreographed movements of people in constructed spaces to facilitate the examination of the underlying mechanisms of social relations, conflicts and communication.
Originally from Berlin, Germany, Bettina Hoffmann is based in Montreal, Canada.
Her work was exhibited in group and solo shows in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, England, Rumania, South Korea, the USA and Canada. Solo exhibitions include e.g. Drain at Oboro, Montreal, 2014, Émile, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2009, Décalage at Dazibao, Mois de la Photo à Montréal, 2007, at Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto, and Kristi Engel Gallery, Los Angeles, 2008.
Her videos were presented at festivals and video art fairs internationally, e.g. Crossroads, Film Festival at the Cinematheque San Francisco, USA, Movement on Screen in Liverpool, UK, Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois (Montréal), European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück (Germany), Opere Nuove - No Words, Centro Culturale Trevi, Bolzano, Italy, Première vue Montreal, Espace SD, Beirut, Lebanon and at VideoLisboa in Lisbon (Portugal), and several times at the VAD video festival, Girona, Spain.
Her work is in several private and public collections in both North America and Europe. e.g. the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec, and Berlinische Galerie in Berlin.
Hoffmann received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Hochschule der Künste, Berlin and attended both the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles and the Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam.
More details of her CV at bettinahoffmann.net/cv2015.html
More work on bettinahoffmann.net/