Steven Ball
Marie Craven
Solrun Hoaas
Daryl Dellora

Melbourne independent filmmakers

Leo Berkeley
Giorgio Mangiamele
Michael Buckley
Moira Joseph

Marcus Bergner

BIOGRAPHY:   Other than stating that Marcus Bergner is an Australian artist based in Brussels, it seems beguilingly counter productive to try to provide further biographical evidence in support and validation of his films. For the existence of these films is proof enough of his long-held decision to engage in modes of ‘lateral piercing’ against and between usual existential, historical and artistic hierarchies or standards.

In fact any biographical trajectory in terms of indicating why the films were made in the first place, might be best gleamed by imagining a largely accidental and innately anachronistic assemblage of historical influences and private experiences: From Etruscan art to abstract film and back again over a thirty five year period.


CRITICAL OVERVIEW:   Marcus Bergner is a prodigious, brilliant artist who has worked, individually and collaboratively, across many forms and media – music, performance, visual arts, sound art, writing, aesthetics, philosophy, film, video, design, animation – for over 40 years. Just as his creative exploration traverses diverse fields, his personal path has taken him to many parts of the world, igniting fires of illumination in centres including Melbourne, Prague, Berlin and Ghent. From his multiple works with the collective Arf Arf through to his current community-based projects with Myriam van Imschoot, via numerous sole-authored pieces, Marcus has always been, for me, at the “avant-garde of the avant-garde”: researching and interweaving inspirations, methods and thought-programs from art new and old, paths forgotten or never truly trodden. His films, in particular, “chisel”, flash, ponder, juxtapose, dig deep into matter that is at once material, psychic and political. Is he not as well known, celebrated or subsidised in Australia as he should be, because he plays so systematically across the borders of forms and genres, refusing to stereotype himself into one, repetitive practice, signature or medium? But there’s no stopping Marcus’ flow now: it is up to us to keep up with where art will take him, and where he will take art.

– Adrian Martin, 9 March 2020

The Surface
The Surface

FILMOGRAPHY: THE INCUBUS : 16mm, 15mins, sound, colour, 1979. Made with Michael Buckley and Marie Hoy. A musical combining animated and live performance sequences. Includes cameos from musicians from the post punk scene of Melbourne in the late 1970s.// BOB BROWN : 16mm, 5mins, sound, colour, 1981. Homage to the American avant-garde writer Bob Brown who lived and worked in Paris in the early part of 20th century collaborating with Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein and Stuart Davis. Sequences filmed in the London Zoo, edited and produced at the London Filmmakers Co-op with a cameo by the musician John Murphy.// HANDBERG NOTES : 16mm, 12mins, silent, colour, 1983. A film collage using written language and live action sequences within home-processed footage. Distributed by the German Film Archives, Berlin.// GO GOLD : 16mm, 12mins, silent, 1983. A film made to perform with by using the title written in 25 different languages.//ETRUSCO ME : 16mm, 6mins, sound, colour, 1983. A scratch animation and expanded-cinema work made for a live performance of the singer Marie Hoy. Inspired by Etruscan pottery in Rome.// DOPPELGANGER FILMS : Super 8, 15mins, sound, colour, 1984. Based on Brecht’s dictum that: A deep need must be approached superficially. States of estrangement, entrapment or entrancement arising out of suburban identity and momentous instants of mistaken identity are enacted in different domestic spaces. All editing was done in-camera as were all the special effects, so everything appears like flimsy performative prompts or props including live projections, mirrored images and flashes of white light caused by removing the film cassette from the camera while filming.//WERE WE LEAD ASTRAY? : Super 8, 30mins, colour, sound, 1986. A travelogue or shaggy dog film made during a prolonged visit to Turkey including shots of the snow covered landscape of Goreme and a prison nearby.//STRAMM : Super 8, 23mins, colour, sound, 1986. Homage to the German expressionist poet August Stramm. By turning things inside out by the way one uses the camera: outside inside and inside outside. Performances from Mary and Rudy Grant. Poetical material from Gerhard Ruhm, Ernst Meister and Stramm.// MAGNIFIED CRUMBS OF KINDNESS : Super 8, 16mins, sound, colour, 1986. Shot under the counter in a trendy cafe in Melbourne exposing the underbelly of the cooking industry. Cameo appearances by artists and musicians including Lee Smith, Wols, Frank Lovece, Andrew Hurle, John Murphy and Stephen Bram. Maria Callas singing Norma appears on the soundtrack.// AN HISTORIC DISTURBANCE OF MEMORY : 16mm, 20mins, colour/b&W, sound, 1987. The script is written directly onto the film itself and tells the story of an imaginary historical figure during the time of Charlemagne.// MUSICAL FOUR LETTERS : 16mm, 6mins, colour, sound, 1989. Every conceivable word with four-letters that has anything do with music (including melodious bodily functions and swear words) have been written directly onto the surface of a 1940s Mexican musical film. Here words reveal their innately luciferous and fictive capacity for abstraction and offering an escape route for memory. (see also text below)//TALES FROM VIENNA HOODS : 16mm, 20mins, colour, sound, 1989. An experimental animation film based on the Rorschach inkblot test. Afterimage and echolalia effects are thrown into a waltz of sound and blankness. The script for the soundtrack based on the verbal results of an en-mass Rorschach test applied to the USA army. Includes a sound poem based on Czech tongue twister written by Ladislav Novak.//VIEWMASTER FILM : Super 8, 36mins, sound, colour, 1990. A rambling and poetic travelogue film made while living on a series of Islands in the South Pacific. Special effects generated by the children's optical toy the View-master.// COIMBRA PRISON : Super 8, 8mins, silent, colour, 1991. A structural film made by walking and circling around the prison in Coimbra Portugal over a three week period.//TAP TAP RUIN : 35mm, 6mins, sound, colour, 1992. All the titles of books by the Belgian writer Marguerite Yourcenar are written backwards on blank 35 film with the sound track a collage of sounds recorded in the Naples train station with sound poems by the filmmaker.//THE GOOD SOUP: 16mm, 5mins, silent, colour, 1992. Made with Frank Lovece and Michael Buckley. A filmic letter made by a group of friends to a missing friend in Rome.//THREAD OF VOICE : 16mm, 19mins, sound, BW+colour, 1993. Made with Michael Buckley, Frank Lovece and Marisa Stirpe. A experimental documentary by the Australian sound poetry group Arf Arf about their work. Adrian Martin wrote about the group: “The artistic work of Arf Arf, across all the media they use, is vivid, kinetic, involving, very humorous, full of the rawness and randomness and mysteriousness of life. It's full of almost violent juxtapositions and gear shifts - as well as sudden, lyrical passages of calm, poetic grace.”//ANGLEDOZER : 16mm, 16mins, sound, colour, 1996. A filmic collage using an optical printer and various different film stocks to compose a metamorphosis of found imagery within architectural space. The sound track comprises of a live performance by Marisa Stirpe on jaw harp. Distributed by Light Cone, Paris and German Film Archives, Berlin.//PALERMO : Super 8, 7mins, silent, BW, 2000. A kinetic and indexical light play shot and edited in the streets of Palermo. A pivotal film in the work of the filmmaker with a small wave to Werner Schroeder. // SURFACE STUDIES : Digital video, 12 mins, sound, 2002. Using found footage and footage shot in Rotterdam and Byron Bay, poetic homage to the diminishing surface within the digital era. Voice-over from the singer, songwriter and artist Anita Lane.//THE SURFACE : 16mm, 60mins, sound, colour, 2009. ‘The exterior is an interior raised to the power of mystery’- Novalis. This is part of a series of art works and writings by the filmmaker focusing on notions relating to the role of the surface within visual perception and art. When looking at an opaque object what one actually sees is only aspects or parts of the surface. Following on from this it can be argued that all the white areas in this film are actually the optical/metonymic evidence of a kind of surface object (sell-you-void). Space here is light and whiteness appearing as a spatially special act of re-definition/redesign in terms of filmic perception or surface thought. The chemically divergent and found film prints were systematically and graphically altered or un-built through processes of batiking, bleaching and sgraffiare like methods of manipulation of the film surface. A film mosaic gradually built over ten years with the final result incorporating elements of blind spotting, sight-gags, radical blocking-out, gestaltism, ruin-pleasure or ornamentation through ruination. Surfacing and drawing connects to daily experiences of glancing that involves many humorous, sensuous, poetic and even subversive qualities.The sound track is entirely sound concrete of the vocal leftovers, sound effects or ready made silences of the found footage. Made from over three hundred educational and training film prints.//VERBFILM : digital video, 6mins, silent, 2014 Dormant visions affix themselves onto the walls of this Camera Picta, leaking antiquated nooks and crannies.//SOUND POETRY FILM (WASHING MACHINE) : digital video, 6mins, sound, colour, 2017. Original sound poems performed as the basis to camera throwing and abstract imagery. With an appearance from the artist Kathrin Maria Wolkowicz. //SUPER EIGHT FEELING : Super 8, 14mins, colour, sound, 2019. A montage or mosaic of home movie footage taken from over a 30 year period up to the late 1980s.//FILM TIMELINE : 2023, part of an ongoing series of cinema poems. See below.

Etrusco Me
Thread of Voice

Dirk de Bruyn wrote on MUSICAL FOUR LETTERS:

This film defines a unique space between image and sound. The hand drawn dancing phrases are words of sounds, and function like those action biffs and whams often sprinkled through action comic books. here they are presented more as graffiti than design. They function as a virtual sound track, not heard but remembered and internally rehearsed - a kind of kinetic inner voice. The percussive musical soundtrack played on accordion by the filmmaker acts as a background to this virtual action. Scratched on the run these kinetic words flag the compacted time we now experience in every day existence, where the gesture must contain more than it ever did and be delivered quicker and cheaper than ever. Musical Four Letters delineates the kind of space that can be opened up in the found, the erased and this most recent layer of a palimpsest of the symbol that stretches through abstract cinema, back through the magic lantern into shadow play and the cave, perhaps Plato's cave. Bergner allows one to witness, what is now glimpsed in post-modern life as this raw distilled impulse. These dancing words are stuttering talismans put in the service of us gaining back a place at the valued center of the every day. As we realise that this discarded film, with its seemingly chaotic scratchings and erasures, opens up a vibrant vista of image and sound, we are handed a way, an attitude, with which to renovate our own discarded and devalued every day existence with new vigour and vision.To impart meaning and a certain sense of loss, gesture now needs to be contained in the glimpse to the increasingly agitated and fragmented observer. For the consuming machine the response is a seamless design and technological regale on that fixated need to acquire the glorified object and its image. For Bergner it is about opening up a way to revisit the personal and that neglected of spaces, the public, anew.
(From: Image Smithing Lost and Found 1998)

Musical Four Letters
Musical Four Letters

© Marcus Bergner, April 2024.

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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis