The Witch is the companion piece to our art video The Magician, which is currently under production. Both these videos are filmed using stop motion techniques but with live actors, Tobias in the case of The Magician, and Nathalie as The Witch. These two films are thought of as both contrasts and complements to each other. The Magician is a lone figure standing on a small round stage floating in a vast black space, performing tricks that would be impossible without the stop motion involved, but ultimately failing since the tricks end up with a life of their own. He is theory and calcualtion, the ordering of the world and thinking in mathematical and scientific models.
The Witch on the other hand controls and influences the world by becoming part of it. She is in nature, and the space we see her act within is the deep tropical forest teeming with life. She is moving in and out of the space, which is itself constantly changing as the film progresses. Days come and go, rain and sunshine interchange, the forest grows and lives its natural rhythm speeded up by the subjective slowness of stop motion. Within this setting The Witch is working her magic with the help of spirits and ghosts, also animated with stop motion techniques, and just as herself, seemingly moving out of joint with time. Just as The Magician she only has limited control over her magic, but at least she seems to be aware of it. She is part of the natural world where the forces of growth and life also needs to consume and digest to stay alive, where even the strong and cunning eventually ages and dies, but where the cycle itself stands beyond harm.
These films are made using a time consuming and elaborate method of a human actor performing pre planned movements frame by frame. The result is motion that seems uncannily real but at the same time cut out of ordinary time and space. Filming the movement of the protagonist frame by frame also allows us to interject small animated sequences inside the action, or to manipulate the environment around the actor as the action unfolds. There is also a special kind of feedback in performing this kind of stop motion, apparent only to the actors themselves, in slowing down and cutting up ordinary bodily movements. This special knowledge of how to move segment by segment slowly increases the more stop motion one performs, until it becomes a natural way of seeing one self.
Nathalie Tafelmacher Magnat
Born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1977, with French nationality, my family and I have travelled extensively as expatriates, living in countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey… Back in Europe in the early nineties, I studied art history and film studies in France, followed by Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College in London. Since 2009 I live and work in Berlin, Germany, where I am currently studying directing at the FilmArche.
Tobias Sternberg was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1973. Before moving to London in 2002 to study art at Goldsmith’s College he also had time to study a bit of philosophy, history and creative writing and to pursue work as a carpenter to finance his artistic and philosophical experiments.
While still in College Tobias started showing short videos and sculptures in festivals and alternative artspaces around the world, and in artist run galleries in England and overseas. He has since taken part in residencies, and exhibited in both commercial, public and artist run galleries around the world. His films were shown at among other events Videonale 12, Athens Video Art Festival 2009, Saison Vidéo, FRIK 2009, Videoholica Varna 2008, EXiS 2005 South Korea and prog:ME. Since 2009 he is based in Berlin.
Whatever media Tobias choose to work in he takes on an experimental approach. An exhibition is not just for showing a series of artworks but also an opportunity for an inquiry into the workings of the world and the ways we see it. He tends to adopt a sometimes new but always internally consistent approach to every exhibition opportunity where he presents a body of works that represents one of his venues of investigation. When making films Tobias takes into consideration not just what he wants the films to say, but also how they say it, trying to find new ways to use the medium. His interest in finding novel ways to create art comes from a will to make the audience complicit in what they see, to make people more aware of the way visual culture manipulate and seduce them. There is often a strong element of theatricality in his pieces, but also increasingly complicated processes behind the baroque surfaces.