Mattias Härenstam

Hundekälte (Nächstes Jahr wirds noch kälter)

Single Channel Video 2003. DV PAL. Color. Duration: 11 min 12 sec.

The title would translate something like "Dog cold (Next year will be even colder)" and it is a quote from Alfred Döblins famous Berlin-novel Berlin-Alexanderplatz from 1928. Like in the novel the city in itself plays an important part in the video. A documentary Berlin odyssey seen through the subjective camera eye with sudden surreal or daydream-like interruptions. But these small escapes quickly dissolve back into the harsh reality of post-communist (East-)Berlin.

See video here.

"A dog's life
When Franz Biberkopf on the front pages of Alfred Döblin Berlin Alexanderplatz comes out after four years in jail, it is only the beginning of a long and humiliating journey through the proletarian districts of Berlin in the Weimar republic. Politics is in chaos, economy a joke. How will he survive? - Here? One world war and an Eastern Bloc later, Berlin is a center of a new kind. Young artists, not the least from Sweden, move in convoy. Galleries open everywhere. Party 24-7 is promised. But according to Mattias Härenstams Hundekälte (Nächstes Jahr wird noch kälter) life there is apparently not always so much fun today either. It is a twelve-minute film from a dog-perspective. A camera at knee height registers silently a slight swaying walk through the parts of Berlin's eastern center where Döblin's anti-hero wandered. Sometimes computer-animated butterflies flatters by, sometimes ditto waves beats over the square. They are just hallucinations: Berlin is cold, the outlook for next year is not good either and the city has nothing but concrete to offer.
It is the culturally rich, historically charged and consistent grey environments that together with the photo makes this little film so mesmerizing. But it is the self-ironic winks to the stereotypes of the suffering artist, which saves it from becoming banal."
Review by Nils Forsberg, published in Swedish daily newspaper Expressen 01.09.2004. The entire review is available (in Swedish) as pdf-download at the bottom of this page.

Hundekälte (Nächstes Jahr wirds noch kälter) won the special prize of the jury at TRUNK, The Nordic Art Video Festival 2005, Östersund, Sweden. It was shown for the first time at a solo show at Galerie Chromosome, Berlin in 2003 and has since been shown at numerous exhibitions and screenings, most recently at the exhibition "between appropriation and interventions", curated by Harald Theiss at Christianssand Fine Arts Society, Kristiansand, Norway Oct - Nov 2011. From September 2014 - January 2015 it will be shown at the group show "Letter from Mr. Faustus" at Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art in Israel.