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"Airspirits" opens with scenes extracted from a war movie featuring young Ronald Reagan as a U-boat gunner. He leans behind the viewfinder of the submarine periscope, appears to take aim, and subtitles announce him taking fire. In a circular frame, the camera scans over the landscapes that appear to be the gunner's target. At the point of missile discharge, a coloured triangle emblem appears. It is a graphic representation of shooting a target, but in this case, vom Bruch is also referring to the system of symbols employed by Nazis to identify different arrest categories. The downward pointing triangle was colour-coded according the whether the prisoner was Jewish, homosexual, criminal, a political prisoner or an 'asocial'. Vom Bruch's attempt to address his G…rman identity through this scene is completed by the next sequence, which we must contemplate against the cinema mediated image of the WWII film. A blurry scene shows the palm trees and pleasant skies of what appears to be southern California (perhaps a reference to Reagan as Hollywood actor?). In the foreground, vom Bruch suddenly jumps up such that we see his long, flowing blonde hair waving dramatically around hisface before he falls from view again. This action is repeated for a long duration, but with an uneven timing, as if he is constantly jumping but cannot always reach the height of the camera's view or must pause from the strain of the physical exercise. The relative freedom of this action contrasts with the ever-increasing precision of the artist's later works, but vom Bruch's continual interest in questions of the self in relation to the iconography of Western culture is already evident here.
(Elaine W. Ho) Read more...