Exhibiting 13 video installations from all over the world, THE STARS DOWN TO EARTH samples a slew of cultural interchanges in experimental fashion. Sometimes the pieces forgo imagery entirely, outfitting the viewer with headphones to listen to dialogues. One merely reads the subtitles while seeing oneself amidst the distortion of the hanging screen’s reflections.

What the works eschew in terms of narrative cohesion, they gain in our ability to literally navigate through them physically. This isn’t my favorite medium, but I’ll never forget encountering Steve McQueen’s videos in such a context years before he made 12 YEARS A SLAVE. So I recognize the laboratory of talent that passes through here or, like James Benning, who has a 75-minute triptych in STARS, make a career out of tinkering with the most basic elements of visual grammar. Plus, the exhibition is free, and thus a low-risk investment of time to go and experience something new.

That’s about it from my first #Berlinale— it’s been lovely to bathe so richly in the state of world cinema this past week. I could do without the patronizing anti-piracy warnings that open every presentation, find the difficulty in scoring tickets maddening, and am baffled that drinks are not allowed in the screening rooms, but I’m very lucky to have been able to experience this festival at least once as a resident of this magnificently cultural city.

I’ll continue to refine my thoughts on my blog over the next week or two, but I’m happy I managed to work my day job while attending roughly one screening per night, and writing in reasonable depth about every single one.

Next year in Rotterdam?


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