museumuesum

THE INTERSECTIONS OF ABSTRACTION, TEXT & LANGUAGE, POST-MODERNIST AESTHETICS, EXPERIMENTAL, PERFORMATIVE, MULTI-MEDIA APPROACHES TO ARTMAKING // ORIGINAL CONTENT SELECTED BY JONATHAN WEISKOPF, BOSTON, MA.
Dieter Roth
Solo Scenes, 1997/1998. 
128 Video monitors with VCRs, three wooden shelves, 131 VHS-tapes, two shelving units. 
Installation view at 48 Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (1999)
The tapes demonstrate Dieter Roth´s everyday life and were recorded from 3rd March 1997 to 28th April 1998 in Bali, Iceland and various places in Basel. The following animated stills render the idea of the work. Through the 25 years of Tele-watching, I become more and more disturbed by the actors and their acting in movies. Most of the scenes were obviously meant to look like scenes from everybody’s everyday life. But they did not show what they were meant to show. A good actor, in these movie scenes, was an actor that could behave in general and everyday ways through unreal & fantastic stories, or the opposite would be shown: Fantastic, excited acting – behavious would be used to show cool, everyday scenes. Documentaries looked similar, extreme scenes were looked for (and found) and shown: war and desasters, that were extreme happenings were shown as if they were everyday occurances, everywhere.
I gave up Television, which was hard since I was free to use my time as I liked best (excepted times of need), and sat often in front of my sets days and weeks, suffering and being disgusted more and more as time went by. Sometimes, after many months of heavy drinking, when sleeps was not any more possible but in short bits of single hours – with single or double hours of making in between – I could not look at movies in Television (in cinemas I have not been for years) without scolding and screaming. But still, I had to have these movies.
A way out of drinking – and Television watching – was for me always to go to live in Iceland. I got used to stop my drinking there when, in the late sixties & seventies I stayed mostly in a house that was 5 to 10 hours car drive (depending on the time of year) away from the next liquor store. Nowadays liquor stores are at many more places in Iceland, but I am kept sober there (most often) by my deadly intensive fear of drinking, also by my shame that I feel when I drink in front of my grandchildren. The combination of a sick body that does not take alcohol nicely anymore and many grandchildren who do not take a drinking grandfather naturally keeps me sober. When sober long enough (several months) I become able again to work with objects like taperecorders and videocameras. I tried (starting in March 97) to make films as I thought) out when looking at Tele-movies. The unexciting feelings and doings of my early ten months of soberness after a long (2-3 years) period of drinking seem, to me good material for the unexciting (neither over = nor underplayed) movie scenes I want to produce.
The video films, made during a reconvalescing stay in Iceland – and it’s continuation in Basel – I began to record as SOLOSCENES, since the difficult getting-out-of-drinking time has to be a fairly solo-time. But after some month, in Iceland, at 2 different places, I had to go to Basel to prepare this Marseille exhibition, and since Björn and his friends came after a while, too, I got some more lively scenes to record – at least on Polaroid film.
I want, though, to try the lonely Solo Scenes again: when the show is over and I am again going calmly through my days. Without trying stuff that is meant to look exciting. But the intense Zero-ness I am looking for might not be attainable to me. -Dieter Roth

Dieter Roth

Solo Scenes, 1997/1998.

128 Video monitors with VCRs, three wooden shelves, 131 VHS-tapes, two shelving units.

Installation view at 48 Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (1999)

The tapes demonstrate Dieter Roth´s everyday life and were recorded from 3rd March 1997 to 28th April 1998 in Bali, Iceland and various places in Basel. The following animated stills render the idea of the work.


Through the 25 years of Tele-watching, I become more and more disturbed by the actors and their acting in movies. Most of the scenes were obviously meant to look like scenes from everybody’s everyday life. But they did not show what they were meant to show. A good actor, in these movie scenes, was an actor that could behave in general and everyday ways through unreal & fantastic stories, or the opposite would be shown: Fantastic, excited acting – behavious would be used to show cool, everyday scenes. Documentaries looked similar, extreme scenes were looked for (and found) and shown: war and desasters, that were extreme happenings were shown as if they were everyday occurances, everywhere.

I gave up Television, which was hard since I was free to use my time as I liked best (excepted times of need), and sat often in front of my sets days and weeks, suffering and being disgusted more and more as time went by. Sometimes, after many months of heavy drinking, when sleeps was not any more possible but in short bits of single hours – with single or double hours of making in between – I could not look at movies in Television (in cinemas I have not been for years) without scolding and screaming. But still, I had to have these movies.

A way out of drinking – and Television watching – was for me always to go to live in Iceland. I got used to stop my drinking there when, in the late sixties & seventies I stayed mostly in a house that was 5 to 10 hours car drive (depending on the time of year) away from the next liquor store. Nowadays liquor stores are at many more places in Iceland, but I am kept sober there (most often) by my deadly intensive fear of drinking, also by my shame that I feel when I drink in front of my grandchildren. The combination of a sick body that does not take alcohol nicely anymore and many grandchildren who do not take a drinking grandfather naturally keeps me sober. When sober long enough (several months) I become able again to work with objects like taperecorders and videocameras. I tried (starting in March 97) to make films as I thought) out when looking at Tele-movies. The unexciting feelings and doings of my early ten months of soberness after a long (2-3 years) period of drinking seem, to me good material for the unexciting (neither over = nor underplayed) movie scenes I want to produce.

The video films, made during a reconvalescing stay in Iceland – and it’s continuation in Basel – I began to record as SOLOSCENES, since the difficult getting-out-of-drinking time has to be a fairly solo-time. But after some month, in Iceland, at 2 different places, I had to go to Basel to prepare this Marseille exhibition, and since Björn and his friends came after a while, too, I got some more lively scenes to record – at least on Polaroid film.

I want, though, to try the lonely Solo Scenes again: when the show is over and I am again going calmly through my days. Without trying stuff that is meant to look exciting. But the intense Zero-ness I am looking for might not be attainable to me. -Dieter Roth

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