International Biennial of Contemporary Art Ljubljana,
23 June - 24 September 2000
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Cankarjev Dom
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Matthias Müller
  *1961, lives in Bielefeld

Vacancy, 1999, video film, 15 min.

Vacancy is a film about Brasilia which Umberto Eco called the "city of hope" and also the "last utopia of the 20th century". Brasilia is a city that has been abandoned by its inhabitants. It became a preserved monument protected as part of the cultural heritage, and is kept alive only by the personnel. The fate of this city has become a paradigmatic example of the precise, theoretically "perfectly" planned urban and architectural concept, at the level of the overall design as well as at the level of the minutest detail. But the venture fails because the inhabitants simply do not accept it in the manner that has been prearranged. Müller shows the difference between expectations and reality through effective film editing. The footage of construction shot by the builders in the '60s is juxtaposed to his own scenes from 1998. The former shows the images of the emerging "perfect" city, and the latter the "scars" made in the fabric of the carefully planned ambience by the living social environment and its practical needs and customs, which are probably rather banal in the eyes of the architects. Through the artist's effective personal approach, the film invokes in the viewer the alternating feelings of absence (suggested by the omnipresence of the narrator's background voice throughout the film) and presence, achieved with powerful images and sophisticated treatment of the sound track. Vacancy is a link in the chain of Müller 's films that make use of unconventional narrative strategy, combined with very personal aesthetics, to explore the desires and destinies of the contemporary world.

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