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Lene Berg

“That primal and refined social-aesthetic urges are inseparable is never more obvious than with the sexual contract. As Silvia Federici once argued, “We cannot go back to nature simply by taking off our clothes.” Kopfkino (literally “head cinema”) refers to those images that confront us from the uncensored edge of the mind’s eye, where affects and associations are left alone to run wild, or indeed, purposively commissioned.

Drawing connections between auteurism, the cinematic aspects of thought, and sadomasochistic practice, the artist and filmmaker Lene Berg developed the script for Kopfkino from interviews with a number of women who work as dominatrixes or slaves in the BDSM industry. Eight of them sit dressed in character (as a grand dame, rococo madam, schoolgirl, burlesque artist, businesswoman, butch dom etc.) facing the camera behind a long table on an obvious film set, resembling perhaps a sacrilegious Last Supper or reversioning of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. The camera moves above and below the tableau while they speak, taking a slow, shifting interest in figures, dresses, and accoutrements in accordance with the formal logic of S+M scenemaking.

Sacher-Masoch possessed his female objects of desire by elevating them into ideal cinematic types. Pier Paolo Pasolini dramatized prostitutes as allegorical figures for societal detachment and disruption. Berg’s choreography shows the mistresses’ capacity for self-valuation. Condensed from eight hours of raw material shot over two days the film presents a condensed series of unique and candid chapters, giving access to the juxtapolitical appropriations of female desire internal to the changing affective labor history of S+M.”

Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Prod. format HDV
Duration 01:15:00
Language German
Color Color
Sound Stereo
Year 2013
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About the artist

Lene Berg

Lene Berg, born 1965, is a Norwegian film director and visual artist based in Berlin and Oslo. Her main media is film and moving image, but her artistic praxis also includes installation, collage, photography, and text; and she has produced a number of projects in public space. She studied film at Dramatiska Institutet in Stockholm and has directed four independently produced feature films as well as a number of short films and mixed-media artworks and installations for galleries, museums, and public spaces.  Berg’s autobiographical film False Belief  premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 and was nominated for the Amnesty and Teddy Award. She represented Norway in the 55th Venice Biennale with the film Dirty Young Loose (2013). In 2022 she did the Festival Exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, which is considered the most important solo presentation of a Norwegian artist in the country. In 2023 she published her first novel, Fra far/From father at Kolon.

Berg’s work has been shown at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter; Konsthall C, Stockholm; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Art in General, New York. She has participated in a number of group exhibitions and biennales such as Manifesta; the Biennale of Sydney; the Taipei Biennial; Contour Mechelen and Transmediale Berlin.