Dennis Adams

Outtake (Verschnitt), 1998
Video DVD, 96 min.

In 1969, the state television broadcaster Südwestfunk commissioned socially committed journalist Ulrike Meinhof – who was working in Berlin at the time – to produce a critical screenplay investigating the authoritative structures of approved schools for young female offenders in Germany. The resulting film was entitled Bambule, a word borrowed from African languages and meaning both “dance” and “uprising”; it had the format of documentary drama. Shortly before the film was due to be broadcast in the spring of the same year, however, the German Television Council ruled that it should put into indefinite storage, since it was believed that Meinhof had participated in RAF leader Andreas Baader’s escape from state custody. The film was not shown on German television until 1995.

Dennis Adams has divided a scene (approximately 17 seconds long) from Ulrike Meinhof’s film Bambule into 416 separate images and distributed them one by one, in their original sequence, to passers-by on the Kurfürstendamm. While the individual film images were being distributed, a tiny digital camera attached directly to his arm by a special device took close-up shots of them being handed over.
The scene taken from the film shows a distraught female offender being hounded along a corridor of the approved school by two nuns. As it was impossible to foresee how much time would be required to hand out the separate images, fresh intervals of time and a different rhythm defined my new recording of Meinhof’s original material. Refusal to accept the pictures and resulting deceleration represent a contrast to other situations when they are grabbed quickly. The original length of the film excerpt, 17 seconds, was extended to the real time required by this street action – which was 136 minutes. The cinematic tension of the original material was filtered and slowed down by the erratic tension of the new recording.

Dennis Adams (born 1949) lives in New York.