30 Kilo – concept for two videos, conceived and executed by Viktoria Tremmel

When I spent the summer of 2006 in Cesky Krumlov to work there, my first reaction was one of enthusiasm about the age and the beauty of that town. Yet the longer I stayed there, the more I became aware of the military heritage from the communist past, which is still very much present, if only subterraniously. Thus, I was struck by how many young people wear military clothes as fashion, clothes which of course carry a completely different meaning from similar ones worn in Austria – not least because here, among the civilians there is a not inconsiderable number of men in real military dress. It is important to know that Krumlov is surrounded by barracks and military training areas – disused, but still intact. It is this contrast which fascinated me the most: on the one hand, there is this town packed with tourists, like one huge renovated renaissance palace: meant to make people forget about the communist past, meant to make the place „EU-compatible“; on the other hand there is this weird heaviness that the natives and that curiously anachronistic, yet very present military power exude.
It was my working idea to deal with this heaviness by which I, too, felt surrounded, using my artistic means. This was done through a kind of self-encumbering, in that I lined a military dress with so much weight (30 Kilo), that wearing it I could only move with a great effort. In a next step, I refurbished my studio as a military training area by turning furniture into objects that looked as if they were intended for physical exercises; these obstacles I had to surmount, addressing in this way all the other, everyday obstacles that I have had to overcome. Another aspect of interest is how the movements of the body are affected and its limits exposed.
The other location that was used was Krumlov itself, with its tourist crowds and public squares across which I marched in my weighed-down military dress. This almost developed into a kind of slapstick routine in which the reactions of the passers-by played a vital part.

Getting up again and again, falling down again and again, yet getting up becomes more difficult with each fall taken, a ceaseless getting up, an inevitable falling down, an inability to get up again, a staggering as if drunk, barely keeping on one’s feet, a fall from one foot to the other, and once again to get up and have ideas...
...or have no ideas, getting up with no ideas, painfully falling down, a slight stagger, then a laborious attempt at self-containment, an embarassing crawl, a forging ahead, an army within me – above me, below me, to the right and left of me – an army that I have to battle within myself, telling myself to keep going, forcing myself to keep upright, untiring, not knowing if it works, forcing myself to keep moving, making the best of falling down – does one really need it? By all means!, in order to have the means to get up again after each fall, one big struggle that really should be tracked down. What remains is the combat dress that painfully encloses my body, that enwraps me, making every movement a toil. All this burden that I bear – after all, one is never empty but packed to bursting point with the things one carries around – to resist emptiness, to be able to overcome obstacles, to confront obstacles, to set up, to set against, to set side by side.

You have a thousand-and-none shots!
Some comments on the video “30 Kilo” by Viktoria Tremmel
Julius Deutschbauer

Barracks often provide the stage for bloody combat.
Whenever I pass a barracks and the flag is being hoisted or hauled down everybody stands at attention. Everybody stands quietly at attention saluting the flag. If I do not do the same, the officer on duty grabs my right hand and raises it in salutation. If I say in reply: “It’s not I who am saluting but you, by raising my arm”, the officer angrily lets go of my arm and draws a pistol. At once, another officer appears, raises my right arm, angrily lets go of my arm, draws a pistol. At once, a third officer appears, etc.
At last, the command: “Forward march!” The entire battalion marches off, only a motionless, lonely figure is left behind: persevering, competent, capable, able, important; camping, encamped; deploying itself, positioning itself; in phalanxes, alone in battle formation, perhaps like an army which consists of five sections, the advance guard, the middle, the two flanks and the rearguard, like a big, organized group of people trained for land war: chasing after, leading away.
The air is warm, buzzing, languid.
One woman: a standing army! Neither bugle, nor messenger, nor any particular signals call her to take up arms.
She has neither built nor consecrated a new house, she hasn’t planted a vineyard, nor has she started to use it, she has become engaged to no man/woman, nor has she taken them. She is neither frightened nor faint of heart.
It is not the first battle in which she has become entangled: swaddled in weights, in weapons. Pistols and rifles, boards and bricks, grenades and land mines, diverse standards and pennants, bottles and tins and provisions. Cavalry and mobile beddings of artillery and infantry. She seems to be her own caterer. She seems to have no sexual intercourse on this day or the next. She does not take prisoners at this conquered site, nor does she pilfer or rape.
She needs no leaders, and it is not necessary to highlight a purpose of her military campaign.
She seems to be without a plan, a tactic, a strategy. Nevertheless she banks on surprise attack, then frontal attack, lies in ambush, takes river fords etc. She is armed for the day of battle, forges ahead. Nobody survives.
She is not part of a larger host but rather a large independent squad of her own: an army of one. Relying only on herself in accomplishing her mission, stationed at borders, she serves as bodyguard, courier and sometimes executioner. She is well versed in war, murder and everything evil with all the disposable means of soldiery, under her own command. Tens of thousands, thousands and thousands. Thez are called legion. As an army she cannot be defeated. And there is no escape. She is not used to sleeping at night, and when she gets drunk she does not get drunk.
I hide under a blanket on the back seat of my car and in this way I slip away from the barracks. I will probably have to spend the night in a dirty privy.
Whenever I leave the room, I am glad thjat I am still alive.
Thousand-and-none shots do I have! Alternately one over the other day.
She puts everybody in the shade, the camouflage, the uniform. She commands more than a 1000 soldiers. She is in command. She has great power. She nominates and appoints centurions. She presides over the court-martial and imposes/decrees death penalties. She has underlings who are at her disposal. Her rank can be inferred from the weight of her combat dress: 30 Kilo. Until the reigning order splits asunder through its neglected tensions. As if she had served for five years with the infantry and ten years with the cavalry. In a barracks near Cesky Krumlov (Krumau), in a now disused military training area, where her video originated. Viktoria Tremmel has lined her battle dress with bricks. This confers on her an odd ponderousness. Where I come from, “having a brick” means to be drunk. Does Viktoria Tremmel have a brick? In fact she has more than one. She lets herself be dragged down. At the same time, this heaviness endows her with the lightness of the drunk, of the would-be drunk: as if she saw strange things, as if she had phantastic experiences, as if she lay at the heart of the sea, as if she were balancing at the top of the mast, in the crow’s nest of a ship on a stormy sea. Does she know what is going on around her? As if she had been beaten. She was beaten, but she did not fall ill. She has been dealt blows, forty minus one, without anybody being there.
The unbearable levity of gravity. In a demoniacal slapstick which has such a powerful gravity that stars that come too close are sucked into it and devoured, Viktoria Tremmel seems to be in a state of constant delirium. Mighty plight makes her drift into a delirium of experiencing weight – a paradoxical euphoria. The pressure of gravity inside her drives her towards a state of exaltaion. Delirium, euphoria, exaltation. Heaviness, a heavy heart heaving sighs of grave objection. Who would want to complain?
Burden makes for pressure, pressure makes for force, might might press after. With regard to things to be born. With regard to things to be suffered. Capitas gravitas. Head’s heaviness, heaviness of the limbs. Heaviness of the spleen. Gravitas morbi. She expands, globalizes, supports the whole Atlas, till there’s no more river etc. Her breath is heavy and heavy her tongue. She pays close attention to the word’s heaviness. Pondus verborum. Silently she continues. Everything topsy-turvy, then, and crippled to dust. All complaints are rejected. The world appears to be in a delirium. All emergency exits are locked. Viktoria Tremmel’s video is concealingly revealing, making use of a funny but hard lunacy. She succeeds in letting herself run blindly to her doom.
In “30 Kilo” she reminds me of the seven boys in Bernhard Wicki’s film “Die Brücke” (The Bridge, 1959) who are deployed for the defense of a bridge which appears to be entirely unimportant and destined for destruction right from the beginning. Or she is John Lennon in Richard Lester’s “How I won the War”, where he lays out a cricket field in the middle of the North-African desert behind the German lines – a project which costs many men in his squad their lives. The name of the British officers played by John Lennon, Goodbody, would also suit Viktoria Tremmel in her video “30 Kilo”.
Using the stylistic devices of the grotesque, Viktoria Tremmel endeavors to present her heaviness in a tragicomic manner. Her relation with her own body is a central point of the video. The war turns into a side show. Military might gives way to individual weight. It is her own war that she wages. The war takes place inside her. She is her only victim. “This happened on 30th January 2007. It is of no relevance that the official communiqué makes no mention of it.”
The viewer is left behind in the role of war observer, of war correspondent. He has to eat in order to live and live in order to eat. He has to buy and sell (things of great weight). The exhibition has been declared a zone of defence. Women and children, gallery owners and curators are advised to leave.

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