PETER LIECHTI (1951-2014)
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Open-Ended Experiments. Homage Peter Liechti

Matthias Heeder

Here's one of the most amazing cinema experiences I had in the past few years: we are in Switzerland, as in most of Peter Liechti's films. In his Switzerland: the cultural ground of his cinematic work, destiny more than spiritual home. We see two street musicians playing a gypsy jazz version of "Oh, Lady Be Good". The musicians swing out of the frame, the camera pans to a pensioner on the left. Hunched on his bicycle, he sings ".. be good to me". The musicians are almost out of earshot, but the man goes on singing. Slowly wobbling away on his bicycle, the gypsy groove still visible in his shoulders, he reminds me of the Jungle Book's Baloo the Bear. An alpine Baloo. Switzerland, a cri de cœur! Then the film cuts to two fishes elegantly navigating their river and we listen to the director's reflections on the beauty of the smoke of a burning cigarette. Like I said, it's a very personal observation. But this sequence from "Lucky Jack" (2003) comprises several of the characteristics that make Peter Liechti unique among documentary filmmakers working in the German language, even if he can only be classified as such to a very limited extent: image (archival, found, own material), language (live sound, literary models, own texts), music and sound (sounds, collages) are all equally important in his films. Carefully attuned to each other, they open up unexpected spaces for associations and, above and beyond their ostensible subject, are condensed into a narrative attitude that is first and foremost, radically personal. And completely unprejudiced, except perhaps towards itself. Translated into visual language, this means that Peter Liechti's path is that oft the traveller. As a searcher and explorer of himself, who examines every incident, every subject, every motif for its challenges, experimenting with formal or stylistic solutions. Because, as the filmmaker says: "Filmmaking is my way of thinking about life."

This structure of openness, experiment and risk informs Liechti's artistic œuvre as well as his life. Born in Eastern Switzerland in 1951, finishes secondary school, drops out of medical studies, switches to art history, graduates with teaching qualifications. In the mid-1980s he breaks out of this Swiss rectitude for good and embarks on a period of cinematic adventures, mischief and experiments. "Trip to the Mountains" (1986), a tense, visually charged exploration of his alpine home is followed by "Kick That Habit" (1989) about the soundscapes of electronic musicians Norbert Möslang and Andy Guhl as well as installations and artistic interventions in collaboration with the artist Roman Signer, whom Liechti holds in high regard, for "Roman Signer, Igniter Cord" (1990) and the video art pioneer Nam June Paik for "A Hole in the Hat" (1991).

The selection presented here comprises the period from 1996, beginning with "Signer's Suitcase", in which early experiences condensate into his first project conceived for the cinema, to his latest film "Father's Garden", completed in 2013. What's waiting to be discovered is a rarely seen wealth of forms of visual storytelling that invite investigation into the concept of the documentary in our age of medial hyperventilation. "I don't make typical documentaries – perhaps rather so-called 'essays'. They evolve from a nexus of writing, thinking, music and images. Their documentary character is derived  solely from the fact that I work with protagonists and real 'decors' rather than actors." In this respect, Peter Liechti's films ought a be enjoyed as the open-ended experiments of a frontier-runner win constantly re-discovers the world to, among other things, confirm and re-define his own position in it once the experiment has been experienced. We encounter in Peter Liechti's works not just a maverick spirit who takes the liberty of insisting that film is art, but also a great poet of the cinema who transports the audience into a very personal reality. And this is simply amazing.

(Catalogue DOK Leipzig 2013, p.165s.)

 

Index Texts


 Books, Editions 
»Peter Liechti – DEDICATIONS« (Scheidegger&Spiess Zürich, 2016)
Peter Liechti: »Klartext. Fragen an meine Eltern« (Vexer Verlag St.Gallen, 2013) *)
Peter Liechti: »Lauftext - ab 1985« (Vexer Verlag St.Gallen, 2010) *)
Peter Liechti: Waldschrat. Sechsteilige Fotoserie (Vexer Verlag St.Gallen, 2011)

 By Peter Liechti 
Carte Blanche Peter Liechti (Jahresbericht ARF/FDS 2011; deutsch)
Carte Blanche Peter Liechti (Rapport annuel ARF/FDS 2011; français)
«Viel zu wenige Künstler stürzen ab» (Peter Liechti im Gespräch mit Marcel Elsener)
»Kinodokumentarfilm – Fernsehdokumentarfilm« – Text zur Rencontre ARF/FDS 2006 von Peter Liechti
«Le documentaire de cinéma – le documentarie de télévision» – Texte pour la Rencontre ARF/FDS 2006 de Peter Liechti
Es boomt um den Schweizer Film, von Peter Liechti, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.Juni 2000
Dunkle Stirnen, helle Geister, von Peter Liechti, Tages Anzeiger, September 1997

 About Peter Liechti 
Von Menschen und Hasen (Alexander Weil in www.literaturkritik.de)
Im weitesten Winkel (Bert Rebhandl in FRIEZE)
The Wanderer (Bert Rebhandl in FRIEZE)
Die Kunst des Abschieds (Christoph Egger, Ansprache Gedenkfeier St.Gallen
Konfrontationen mit dem innern Dämon (Christoph Egger, Nachruf in der NZZ)
Der Einzel-, Doppel- und Dreifachgänger (Christoph Egger, Filmbulletin 1/2014)
Im Luftschiff mit Peter Liechti (Tania Stöcklin, Katalog Solothurner Filmtage 2014)
En dirigeable avec Peter Liechti (Tania Stöcklin, Catalogue Journées de Soleure 2014)
Open-Ended Experiments (Matthias Heeder, Katalog DOK Leipzig 2013)
Offene Versuchsanordnung (Matthias Heeder, Katalog DOK Leipzig 2013)
Peter Liechti, Sismographe (Bernard Tappolet, Le Courrier, 3 septembre 2011)
Laudatio auf Peter Liechti (Fredi M. Murer, Kunstpreis der Stadt Zürich)
Landschaften, befragt, mit Einzel-Gänger (Christoph Egger, Laudatio Kulturpreis St.Gallen)
Kino zum Blättern? Jein! (Florian Keller)
Das grosse alte Nichts heraushören – und es geniessen (Adrian Riklin)
«Sans la musique, la vieserait une erreur» – Collages et ruptures pour Peter Liechti (Nicole Brenez)
Tönende Rillen (Josef Lederle)
The Visual Music of Swiss Director Peter Liechti (Peter Margasak)
A Cinematic Poetics of Resistance (Piero Pala)
Aus dem Moment heraus abheben – Peter Liechtis Filme (Bettina Spoerri, NZZ, 19.8.2008)
Sights and Sounds – Peter Liechti's Filmic Journeys, by Constantin Wulff
Letter from Jsaac Mathes
Passage durch die Kinoreisen des Peter Liechti (Constantin Wulff)
Gespräch mit Peter Liechti (Constantin Wulff)
Tracking Peter Liechti's cinematic journeys (Constantin Wulff)
Interview with Peter Liechti (Constantin Wulff)
Interview zu »Namibia Crossings«, in: Basler Zeitung, 23.9.2004
Dokumentarische Haltung. Zu »Hans im Glück«, in: NZZ, 2004
Jäger, Forscher oder Bauer, Interview von Irene Genhart mit Peter Liechti, Stehplatz, April 1996
Excursions dans le paysage, de Michel Favre, Drôle de vie, numéro 8, Dezember 1990
Duckmäuse im Ödland, von Marianne Fehr, WoZ Nr.21, 23.Mai 1990

  Diverses 
Gedenkanlass im Filmpodium Zürich -- in Vorbereitung

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*)
 Inhalt Peter Liechti: «Lauftext – ab 1985» 

Sprechtext zum Film AUSFLUG INS GEBIRG, 1985
Zwei Versuche aus dem Jahr 1987
«Unrast», Arbeitstexte zu MARTHAS GARTEN, 1988 ‑ 1989
Reisenotizen aus den USA, 1990
Logbuch 1995 ‑ 1997
Logbuch 1998 ‑ 1999
Reisenotizen aus dem Südsudan, 1999
Recherchen Namibia, Rohtexte zu NAMIBIA CROSSINGS, 1999
Erstes ungekürztes Marschtagebuch zu HANS IM GLÜCK, 1999
Logbuch 2000 ‑ 2001
Zweites ungekürztes Marschtagebuch zu HANS IM GLÜCK, 2000
Drittes ungekürztes Marschtagebuch zu HANS IM GLÜCK, 2001
Logbuch 2002
Logbuch 2003
Logbuch 2004
Logbuch 2005
Logbuch 2006
Logbuch 2007
Logbuch 2008
Logbuch 2009
Logbuch 2010 (bis Mai)


Details zum Buch

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