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Lars Von Trier Invites You to Interpret Six Artworks for 'Gesamt' Film Project

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood August 13, 2012 at 12:12PM

As part of the Copenhagen Art Festival, Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier is challenging people, as usual, with "Gesamt," an open invitation to folks around the globe to reinterpret six great works of art through a lens or recording sound. Trier sets the rules for the film project (see trailer below) and invites us all to create the content. Director Jenle Hallund will put everything together at the end.

Gesamt is both a provocation and an invitation. By bringing together material from people around the world, we have the opportunity to create a film that has the potential to push the limits of what art is, can and should be. A film that examines what happens when we interact with each other and the space around us.

Where do we come from?

Everyone who wishes to participate can draw inspiration from one or several of the selected six art pieces: James Joyce's work Ulysses, which once was banned in the United States because it was seen as obscene and lewd. Or one can be inspired by August Strindberg's famous play The Father, which still stands as a striking example of a dysfunctional family. Then there is the somewhat more controversial monument the Zeppelinfield in Nuremberg, created by Hitler's main architect Albert Speer. You can also choose the painting Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? by the French painter Paul Gauguin, or you can listen and interpret the French composer César Franck's improvisations. And then, last but not least, you may choose to be inspired by Sammy Davis Jr., who stepped himself into the hearts of people through song.

A community masterpiece

The concept gesamtkunstwerk can be explained as 'the universal work of art' or 'synthesis of the art'. It refers to a piece of art that has been made up of many different types of art. Film is one of the only types of media which can accommodate several types of art forms at once. By using the idea of Gesamt in a user-generated film project we are taking the concept one step further: A universal work of art is not only created by many different art forms but also by a diversity and multitude of people.

An experiment

What the result of Gesamt will be, no one knows - yet. There is no script, just a cinematic experiment that gradually comes to life by people, thoughts, images and sound that merge into each other and form new meanings and constellations. The final work, which will premiere on October 12.2012, is a reflection on our time and the people who live in it: a community masterpiece.

Here's more.

This article is related to: Lars von Trier, News, Festivals

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.