Anita Beckers

Thomas Henke

09 Dec 2008 - 02 Jan 2009

"Liquid Identities TV"

December 9, 2008 - January 2, 2009

Liquid Identities TV shows - with changing program - compositions from “Sarah’s Company“, “Liquid Home“ and “Broken Evidence“ (from the series “Liquid Identities“ 2003 - 2008)

...Liquid Home, Sarah‘s Company and Broken Evidence (from the series Liquid Identities) are longterm projects by Thomas Henke which examine the format of the video portrait from a formalaesthetic standpoint, but which also pursue social and integrative demands through the work with young people. The videos, which were made from 2003 to 2008, show young people who have filmed their immediate surroundings. The films are an illustration of their leisure attitudes and their most urgent concerns; the sounding out of their own strengths and weaknesses, the hierarchical structures in their own circle of friends, as also in the family and at school, the demonstration of their own physicality and situation. The young people come from different backgrounds, are so-called „problematic youth“ or teenagers from sheltered backgrounds, they act together or in groups. The locations in which the video portraits were realized are limited either to a personal area such as the young person‘s own room, the housing estate or the semi-public space of the school. It is the substantial watching of the heterogeneous material which first indicates the complex dimensions of this project. The wish promptly makes itself felt to subject the videos to a sociocultural assessment; we are swiftly of the opinion that we are seeing what we believe we are seeing – besides the teenagers from next door, primarily problematic young people with a so-called „immigration background“, who are „not bothered“ about school or work but all the more about alcohol and sex. This way of reading directed to the content of the films seems to me, however, not to do them justice, and to be too superficial...

... Henke‘s film work seems at first documentary, on closer inspection, however, the concept of the work avoids the enigmatic concept of documentarism, which has been discussed intensely since the 1990s...

...Henke hands a video camera over to the young people, who make full use of it in the framework of what they themselves call a „project“. They film themselves and their friends. In the postproduction phase it is the artist‘s concern that the comprehensive video material be shortened to a portable length, without, however, making any evaluation of content or form by the film cut. In this sense, the artist works according to the documentary premise of leaving the film as little arranged as possible, as „authentic“ in the sense of „true to life“, in order not to exert any influence on production or reception as the author4. With the decision to hand over the camera, an essential change in the paradigm is introduced, as up to now every documentary film theory was based on the assumption that camera and object are different and that this differentiation is taken up explicitly by moments of self-reference in the film...

Susanne Neubauer

...To see these films means a link with the speed and intensity of young experience of being

together with and against one another. Facing as an observer the massed load of unfiltered ability in transmission and self-assertion of the young people means an extreme challenge to one‘s own sensitivity. We feel ourselves to be at the mercy of the person opposite and permanently required to take up our own attitude for or against what is being said and done, to take our own position and to analyze our own feelings for the person portrayed. We find it difficult to keep our distance from our opposite, but it seems more or less necessary in view of the many cases of the unpredictable changeability up to the dangerousness of the person showing himself...

...Sympathy, rejection or resistance. Thomas Henke‘s portrait art sets off strong and lasting reactions. The films breathe the Self of the personalities who recorded them. They demand respect for the potential and vitality of young people, whose unrestrained creative energy is captured here...

Andrea Edel

More information:

Catalogue: Thomas Henke - Liquid Identities (Volume I – III), Kerber Verlag, Edition Young Art