Changing awareness of art and declaring war on the established art market – this is the stated goal of network, curator, artist and former banker Bernard Zunkeler, the protagonist of a very unusual documentary project by an unusual filmmaker. Aljoscha Pause has been working on his movie “Art is a State of Mind” for nearly ten years, which 3sat will air at its peak marathon on Saturday.
Ten years of production and six hours of broadcasting for a TV documentary, where else is that? Isn’t it just an artist declaring war on the market, but also a documentary filmmaker declaring war on short-lived television business, where late-night 30-45 minute documentaries are the order of the day?
You don’t know what should surprise you more: about the daring (financial too) of the film’s hero, who suddenly turns his business life upside down to travel the world and change things with art, or about the filmmaker. Pause has made a name for herself with documentaries like “Tom Meets Zizou” or “Being Mario Götze”. From football stars to artist trips. (“Art is a state of mind”, 3 Sat, Saturday, six episodes from 8:15 pm and in the media library.)
It takes a little courage to embark on such a journey, Pause tells Tagesspiegel. “I’ve already done some long-term studies and I always feel that this completely intentionally open model really appeals to me.” Writer Cornelia Funk says in his current series, “I never want to know the end. I always let the story come to me. I think any kind of creativity works like getting into a maze. And what you’re looking for is trying to hide itself.”
The author still remembers the moment Funke told him this in an interview. “Something clicked on for me. The written stuff always turns me off. This was also one of the reasons why I looked for such a complex approach and found it myself.” Of course, this situation makes it difficult to gain comrades-in-arms for such a documentary in advance.
“To me, that’s a bit of a misnomer.”
In the long run, Pause says, it’s difficult if not impossible to convince platforms, broadcasters, or sponsors right from the start. “The risk is too great for them and the goal is too abstract. Even if someone has as much experience at these distances as me. Projects will only be possible if I take a complete risk myself.”
Of course, every feature-length documentary always features dry spells. “And here I really mean the long distance: up to ten years.” Recently, Pause has often struggled, also and especially with public broadcasters, those documents for which he accompanied a politician for three months sold as long-term studies.
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“To me, that’s a bit of a misnomer. If you really scroll over many years, illogical things will happen that companies focused on strong business can’t count.”
It was worth it for the director and the audience. But you need to be able to engage with a man for more than six hours, commenting on his actions and his comrades commenting on him. We have been following Bernard Zunkeler for nine years as he builds his own art collective and establishes a global network with like-minded people between Berlin, Los Angeles and Havana, where there are also flashpoints and problems with the Cuban regime.
The business lawyer had previously quit his high paying job at a large bank in order to devote himself to his true passion: art. If you really want to live the art, take an absolute risk, according to the 57-year-old’s dogma.
His goal is not only self-discovery, but no less than changing the world with art, to confront the art market, which sees art primarily as an investment, with its vision of socially effective art.
If you accept this utopia and accept one or two repetitions, the story follows itself. Aljoscha Pause adds nothing more, but also nothing less than meditative images and his own approach and sensitive treatment of radically creative people. Weekend TV tip: binge watch documentaries!
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