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Das Wandernde Sternlein

Exhibition by the 2011 Jiri Chalupecky Prize finalist - featuring his film Das Wandernde Sternlein. Exhibition opening: Thursday, March 21 2013. Open through May 9, 2013

Exhibition by the 2011 Jiri Chalupecky Prize finalist - featuring his film Das Wandernde Sternlein.
Exhibition opening: Thursday, March 21 at 7PM. Open through May 9, 2013

To enumerate all the possibilities of meaning and pathos one finds in the vast oeuvre of Mark Ther, who, in his late 20s, has already become a prolific video artist in the Czech Republic, one would have to write an entire book. Rather than producing a body of work that boasts a coherent message, Ther’s videos – incredibly short, cinematic, hilarious, and confusing – have concerned themselves with the enunciation of a definitive style, a style that is marked by the joyful revivification of a camp aesthetic that is as sophisticated as it is playful, as well as a flippant sense of humor that has its roots in Eastern European absurdism. What distinguishes Ther’s work from that of other contemporary Czech artists is its fearless exploration of sexuality and transgenderism, topics that he manages to engage in without politicizing his commitment. Unlike most video artists belonging to his generation, Ther experiments with narrative in all of his videos; his is a liberated – and liberating – approach, one that isn’t blinded by the conceits of age. Although they frequently, through music and visuals, hearken back to the 1980s, perhaps the kitschiest decade yet, there’s something timeless in so many of these pieces that make them work so well in the here and now. Perhaps we’d do best to call it Ther’s time.
-By Travis Jeppesen

Das wandernde Sternlein, 2011, 20min, FullHD
The video Das wandernde Sternlein, awarded in 2011 with the Jindrich Chalupecky Award, cumulates several issues and strategies used by its author Mark Ther in his previous work. He has situated his narrative in late 1930s in the Sudeten region, as he did e. g. in his video Pflaumen, where he reacts to forced evacuation of Czech Germans in 1945 in a very intimate, gentle, but disturbing and moving story.

In Das wandernde Sternlein Ther does not refer to general World War Two historic reality showing a very actual emotive moment, he comes with a completely fictional story from that period and adds issues of sexual perversity which he has used separately in recent works.

The story begins with a tale narrated by a very old lady in Sudeten dialect. She brings us in the times of late 1930s and she reminds us how one of the children she knew disappeared in the woods under very odd circumstances. Then we see a wood in late afternoon, soon will be dark. A man is chasing a 11-year-old boy. The boy does not fight back, he must know the man. This detail reminds us contemporary fact that 70% victims of sexual rape know the rapist. Then the man molests the child and finally strangles him. This scene is very realistic, but very unnatural in the same time. After that we have a detailed look at the dead children´s body when the rapist leaves.

Here comes a very new moment in Ther's work – a moment of spirituality and ethic catharsis of acts that have been done in the narratives. Several peasants come as good beings and envoys of the nature. Then the dead children´s body disappears in a light shine and the nature as a good essence takes through the peasants the dead and spoiled body. Some can say the peasants are some kind of a spiritual symbol, as it worked in old art iconography or as represents the Mother Nature, the interpretation is very open and wide. The important thing is the evil act which can happen in any time and in any place has been rehabilitated by some higher existence. Ther gives us a new value in the strange or maybe even perverted images he depicts in his work –hope.

Mark Ther has really shown one of the most elaborated works ever. The video narrative is clear and offers several meanings in the same time. The visual aspect is very precise as we are used to in Ther's videos, but we can say the form is not over-expressed above the subject, as it used to be. It is minimal and makes the very grave and disturbing subject beautiful.

The video was awarded by an international committee for Ther's “courage to overcome social prejudices and taboos”.  On the other hand, the video Das wandernde Sternlein was also received with controversy, especially by parents and conservatives, and the gallery, where it was shown, was accused from paedophiliac propaganda in an official complaint.  ~Ladislav Zikmund-Lender