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Berlin / NY / Shanghai Time


Stefan Panhans is an artist predominantly working in the media video and photography, but also with text, drawing, collage and sculptural installation. His first novel »We Just Left Shore« has been published in 2017.

His videos are mainly single channel, single frame works without any cut, while often the only movement derives from within the quite obsessive, hypnotizing spoken words of the performers.

In other works - as it is chosen for this program - text is completely omitted and Panhans is working with groups of actors and dancers performing choreographies sometimes very close to contemporary experimental dance in his dreamlike stagings, accompanied by experimental electronic music soundtracks, specifically commissioned and composed for them.

In his work he deals with contemporary subject centred issues such as the must of self optimisation and the flexible ego under conditions of a »new spirit of capitalism«, as well as phenomenas of hyper-mediatization - as kind of an artistic research his work undertakes a mental archeology of contemporary media and its effects on our minds and bodys.

Since the turn of the millennium we find ourselves at the turning point of a historic sea change in the media. Such times - recurring as they are through the ages - witness the development of a radically altered concept of a subject. At the transition from the analogue to the digitally globalised media world Panhans observes the increasingly porous border between the inner and the outer, between private and public spheres. Panhans detects in the, by now, completely transparent person a fundamental, paranoid strand of subjectivity, which he brings out with a keen eye for fears and compulsions.

His work has been widely shown at international venues like Videonale c/o Kunstmuseum Bonn; EAV Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro; Haus am Waldsee, Berlin; Camera Austria / Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Electronic Media Art Festival, Osnabrueck; West, Den Haag; Museum for Contemporary Art, Siegen; La Panacée, Montpellier; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Experimenter, Colkata; Monkeytown, New York; The Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Kassel; Museum Folkwang, Essen; NBK & NGBK, Berlin; Scène Nationale, Mulhouse; Stedelijk Museum 's-Hertogenbosch; ArtCenter South Florida, Miami; Transmediale, Berlin; Kunstverein in Hamburg; Kunstverein Hannover; Goethe-Institut, Rome / Sao Paolo / Porto Alegre, and many others.

For his work he received several prices and stipends, most recently in 2014 the ´Bremen Award for Video Art #22, and the Grant for Media Art of the Foundation of Lower Saxony at the Edith-Russ-Haus in 2017


Freeroam À Rebours, Mod#I.1 / The Long Goodbye (Pre-Afterwork-Ok-Clubset) V / SORRY

Freeroam À Rebours, Mod#I.1
4K Video, Single Channel, 16:13 min, 2016

»Freeroam À Rebours, Mod#I.1« operates at the overlap of experimental film, music video clip, performance and contemporary dance forms. In collaboration with a choreographer who is investigating in avatar movements since a while, and a team of performers (dancers and actors), the film takes its starting point from forms of insufficiency in the behaviour of humanoid avatars in computer games. These 'deficiency scenarios' are translated back into real bodies, and restaged by the perfomers in existing and staged indoor and outdoor spaces. Particular focus is on the phenomenon of seemingly 'deficient', minor or major displacement activities, anomalies, irregularities, idle runs and repetitions in the behaviour and movement patterns of the game characters. If we all actually are more and more trimmed to the highest levels of self-optimization with its flip side of depression and addiction, the unintentional passivation of the figures in the computer game formulates an almost utopian content. By restaging and transforming these failure scenarios of avatar aesthetics with human performers the project exemplifies a kind of practicing insufficiency ‚from within' and embraces the defects of the algorithmic machine instead of longing for its perfection. Being deeply embedded in the movie's motion choreography the camera movement is evolved in direct collaboration with the choreography and, alike the editing process, generates references to the aesthetics and motion patterns of action-based computer games. The clip is accompanied by a digitally composed soundtrack which together with the editing forms the propulsive, rhythmically structured montage, and partly unfolds in a staged set that is based on two estranged versions of a retail space in a computer game.

The Long Goodbye (Pre-Afterwork-Ok-Clubset) V
HD, colour/sound, 3:2, Single Channel, 25 min, 2013

The castle's gate never opens. A small expedient alliance of tired and tense looking event mascots like from the mcjob fed entertainment and advertisement industry - e.g. in animal, pepper, gigantic santa claus or pizza costume - in a sort of improvised trainings camp, atmospherically settled somewhere between sports hall, »Dschungel Camp« (German version of »I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!«) and display storage, for their turn which doesn't seem to come. There is a leaden, tensly sticky atmosphere. A backdrop showing a castle's wall with Gothic wooden gate as from a promotional event in a shopping mall for the TV series »Game of Thrones«. But also a trampoline and further gym equipment, promotional placard stands from department stores, shopping baskets and sandwichboards, sleeping bags, Yoga and thermal mats, colourful flyers, wrapping waste and magnum PET bottles with unidentifyiable liquids in colours of discounter soft drinks are spread out in the room. Meantime, the protagonists try to stay fit with Yoga excercises and push-ups, to sleep, or e.g. to steal the bottle with the apparentely desired blue liquid from the »pizza«. A kind of rigorous stage coach security in black outfit tries, from time to time, to stoicly maintain order and to refill the bottles with an enormous plastic tank. Hardly anything else happens, though a certain, consistent suspense supported by the soundtrack prevails which is, contrary to the common cinematic narrative patterns, never unraveled. The atmosphere of the tired tension and the waiting is only disrupted by an occasional, offstage, reminecsent of comic sounds signal, on which everybody starts to complete their costumes and stand in »rank and file« ready for the call up in front of the castle's wall, where they, after futile waiting, after a further signal take off everything and go back to their time-out places. The event everybody is waiting for never takes place, and the characters only show us, instead of a hysteric, happy motivation theatre, an endlessly slow »backside«.


HD, sound/colour, screening version, single channel, 9:35 min, 2010

In »SORRY« we see a somehow nightmarish, jam-packed train ride of a bunch of restless, tired and closemouthed people looking like half-professional, contemporary celebrity lookalikes; among others, in company of lots of XXL-coffee-to-go cups, a ghost of a 1930's dirndl, two police officers in full rig, a jogging zombie and the military. Appearing absent and wordless, they carry all sorts of strange luggage looking like remains of a departement store plundering and seem to follow certain unknown ritual rules until everything starts again.The situation seems surreal but, on the other hand, we recognize a lot of our contemporary reality in it.


How to Watch?

On webstream, on free SmartTV app, AppleTV.
Or watch it anytime on ikono On Demand

© Stefan Panhans, Freeroam À Rebours, Mod#I.1, video, 16:14min, 2016