A major figure of European personal filmmaking, Wilhelm Hein makes a rare visit to London this month to present three programmes of his films. WILHELM HEIN: PERFEKT! starts at The Horse Hospital on 19 May with a screening of Hein’s latest film, the open-ended underground opus You Killed The Underground Film, or The Real Meaning of Kunst Bleibt, Bleibt, which gathers footage shot over a decade in a diaristic odyssey that slides from the sublime to the ridiculous, between document and performance.
WILHELM HEIN: PERFEKT! continues with two events at the Goethe-Institut London on 20 May. In the afternoon Wilhelm Hein will join British filmmaker and theorist Malcolm Le Grice to talk about the development and practise of Materialist film in Britain and Germany in the 1960s and 1970s and to present some of their work from this period. In the evening Wilhelm Hein will host a screening of international avant-garde films including works by Andy Warhol, Tony Conrad and the Viennese Actionists Günther Brus and Otto Mühl selected from Hein’s own personal collection.
Wilhelm Hein began filmmaking (together with Birgit Hein) in the late 1960s, creating original collages such as Rohfilm (1968). In these rough, visual attacks, the film material affirms its presence on the screen rather than acting simply as a transparent carrier for photographic images. This style of Materialist filmmaking developed in parallel at the London Filmmakers’ Co-operative, leading to early links between the avant-garde in Germany and the UK. Wilhelm and Birgit Hein were also innovators in the fields of multi-screen projection and live film performances, with works including Doppelprojektion (1971) and Superman and Wonderwoman (1980-84). Tireless promoters of work by others, they organised XSCREEN in Cologne (1968-71) to present regular programming, made documentaries for WDR television, and were largely responsible for establishing a presence for avant-garde cinema in European art museums and surveys (such as Documenta) in the 1970s.
Despite this activity and recognition, Wilhelm Hein has resisted becoming part of the establishment. He remains committed to the vitality of the underground and prefers punk clubs to professorships. A survivor with a restless energy, Hein is one of the last true radicals of his generation, continuing with a subversive practise dedicated to the freedom of expression.
WILHELM HEIN: PERFEKT! (19-20 May) is curated by Mark Webber (former member of pop band Pulp).