Irma to Come in Earnest, 2017 | full HD video, 1920 x 1080, stereo sound, 44 min. (video still)
Irma to Come in Earnest is a video portrait of Hurricane Irma and its aftermath. Through slow motion images witnessing the major destruction caused by the category-five hurricane, which struck the U.S. state of Florida on August 30, 2017, Julius von Bismarck reveals the aesthetics of nature’s devastating force.
“Irma to Come in Earnest” warned a news headline of September 2017, as the category-five hurricane swept through the Caribbean and bore down on Florida. Its arrival is the subject of Bismarck’s eponymous film, shot in Naples (Florida) amid gale-force winds, flooding, and desolation. In an attempt to fathom the essence of a hurricane beyond the media spectacle, the black-and-white footage is drastically slowed down, taking in rain and debris swirling through empty streets, submerged cars, and houses in disarray. A haunting ambient soundtrack pieced together from news reports is slowed to the same pace as the moving image, rendering it unintelligible. In the first part of the film, the camera stands still; the only thing that moves is the hurricane itself. The slow-motion effect brings the violent event back to a speed perceptible to the human eye, allowing the viewer to perceive the union of the storm with the suburban environs—the actual invisibility of moving air overcome by an interplay of raindrops and blowing objects. In the second part, the storm has moved on, allowing humans to move again amid the destruction. For the first time people, not least media representatives, appear in the frame. For the viewer, the pleasure of watching the constructed image dovetails with the perverse implications of witnessing a catastrophe. By shifting the speed of image and sound, the film attempts to transcend familiar images of disaster, capturing both the nature of the storm and the media presentation of the catastrophe in an otherworldly atmosphere.
Installation view ‘Gewaltenteilung’, Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg, 2017 | full HD video, 1920 x 1080, stereo sound, 44 min.
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