Johann König

Rinus Van De Velde

The Villagers

22 - 30 Apr 2020

"His strangely displaced yet seemingly familiar world made of cardboard provides the setting for his characters, none of whom are trained actors, just friends and acquaintances who happened to have time. One of them is his long-standing studio assistant Joe, who looks so much like Van de Velde that he could easily be mistaken for him. He takes the role of his alter ego. Initially, Van de Velde wanted to play the starring role, but as with his cardboard cutouts obvious copies work better than the real thing; they make more artistic sense, they are more authentic and original. The backdrop also represents an alternative reality, which while being fake on every level is the actual scenery through which the actors move, silently, enacting their own stories, just like the camera that drifted through Breton’s studio.
[...] The Villagers becomes an exercise in critical viewing. It is because the film consists of such clichéd images that it succeeds so well at unnerving us. Everything about the world tears the viewer out of purely enjoying the film. After all, what is there to hold on to? Not even the temporal setting is discernible. Whether in the costumes or imagery, Van de Velde thought it important to eliminate any clues, leaving us with a nondescript elsewhere."

Extract from: Timon Karl Kaleyta, On the Realness of Things, KÖNIG Magazin #5, 2019