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(R)evolution as Contemporary Body: Holly Zausner's Resplendent Unsettled Matter

03/03/2015 06:37 pm ET | Updated May 03, 2015

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The quantum wae collapse is embodied into multimedia artist Holly Zausner's visually stunning and dynamically assertive Unsettled Matter premiering at LOOCK Gallerie in Berlin before arriving at Postmasters in New York on 25 April.

What is truly outstanding about the splendid, ten-minute film loop with selected photographs comprising Unsettled Matter has to do with essence -- the perfect marriage of cyclical form and content -- and timing. The exhibition opened February 6 on Potsdamer Strasse; this was the day after the opening of a historic 65. Berlinale. Therefore, in the same geographical proximity, the crystal clarity of the LOOCK exhibition revealed the collective burden of the artist/filmmaker: to innovate new narratives integrating the "contemporary body" passage of descent and rebirth into a Möbius strip relecting inner & outer.

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Zausner's breakthrough brings the personal into a universal narrative of resurrection. The multi-layered archaic descent cutting through the horizontal/vertical axis -- into a third space.

The artist, in dark glasses and black trench, progressing the gender-equalizing narrative of her last film, , into the realm of the female shadow/secret agent.

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...eclipsing the ancient feminine archetypes at the Egyptian gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art...

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...and those of the late 20th century projected in Tribeca's FIlm Forum.

The topography of Manhattan is a clearly defined fixed grid running east/west and north/south. This distinct calculus has given rise to a social lexicon, as in the Upper East Side (ascent) versus..

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...the Lower East Side (descent).

Holly Zausner trumps them all. Her new film tracks the corporal journey of a lone woman (call her the Übermensch) in an emptied out Manhattan architecture. This narrative extends from her 16 mm 2007 film, Unseen, which opened skywriting the title over Berlin. As metaphor, for the illusiveness surrounding her emergence, this was an inspired view of the collective perception of the artist. She appears in a white trench coat, passing by an exploding gallery while encumbered with her task: transporting a rubbery pair of masculine and feminine bodies on a voyage of integration through the once-divided metropolis.

The performance artist interacting with gender sculptures and the environment through the third medium of film staked an unmarked middle passage of seeking gender equality through the unexpected humor, sourced in a pleasurably proactive act defining the neo-modern woman. Unseen was not only making a statement about gender balance in art, but announced a phenomenological breakthrough: interactive art practice as a Möbius strip object(ification) of the artist's "unseen" inner process of desire for the sacred wedding.

In her new work, Zausner cuts into the horizontal axis through the vertical, but not in the obvious means of portraying the phallic waving "weenies" of the Manhattan skyline. Instead, she embarks on the (r)evolutionary passage of sourcing her present matter (Mutter/Mother) directly in her female body/body of art. Suspending herself physically over her personal "imaginary museum" she creates a sacred triangle by means of her "unsettled" form extended over the flat plane of a carefully assembled archive.

The perspective of the (r)evolutionary third, or the Skygoddess/Übermensch provides the holistic picture of the assemblage. And yet, this precarious balance collapses by means of the crashing body, thereby "breaking the vertebrae" of Giorgio Agamben's contemporary to create the third space of quantum entanglement "between time and generations".

This then, is the journey of a new modernist impulse...

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...entering the underworld (via Grand Central Tunnel) to rise into the archetypal realm via the...

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...dazzling zodiac (on the ceiling)...

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...with its ancient archetypal forms of the life/death/rebirth cycle contained in the sarcophagus.

The production notes from the film, resplendently shot on an Alexa 4K camera by the well-known Hollywood/New York cinematographer Mott Hupfel, reveal the collaborative process as a burgeoning movement: the brigades of students holding back the Manhattan hoards so the iconic female can make her underground emergence known.

This is perfection.

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This third space is where the androgynous archetype of the ever-present origin emerges from under the collapsed wave, i.e. the broken vertebrae of (her)story.

Unsettled Matter settles the matter of Unseen through the very timeliness of what is "seen"... the shadow of the authentic artist arising from under the eclipse of the 24/7 celebrity culture. The new archetype embodied by the artist arises as a fountain of spirit, closing the loop of Unsettled Matter, thereby converting the cycle of descent/rebirth into the fusion of gender polarities.

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Zausner as bridge between New York and Berlin, where the Übermensch arises under the collapsing quantum wave.

Lisa Paul Streitfeld, a theorist and philosopher based in Berlin, is writing her Ph.D. thesis on the Ubermensch as a conversion process in film. She is author of Hermeneutics of New Modernism and editor of Peggy Bloomer's Surfgeist: Narratives of Epic Mythology in New Media, new titles from Atropos Press.

Stills of Unsettled Matter, 2015 c. Holly Zausner, published courtesy of the artist.