Erich Shoeshine • An architectural Study

Salzburg 1997

Videofilm, 60 minutes

The production was based on the fact that the city of Salzburg (old town) was added to UNESCO's list of world heritage sites. Therefore, the question of urbanness arises, which means the interaction of inhabitants with the city's architecture. An urban space's vitality cannot be defined and indicated by art-historical papers. Salzburg as well can not be understood through high glass brochures, picture-books and postcards. The city, which has earned UNESCO's honors by all means, can only be experienced through its inhabitants. Thereby, the urban space functions as mirror, in which people and their actions are reflected. Urban space can not be clearly defined and conserved in an absolute norm. For obvious reasons, an exceptionally lively image of inhabitans, that is distinguished from today's low standards of mass-media presentation, should enable spectators (onlookers) to approach the secrets of the city and her unique aura.

It is one of the most distinguished tasks of art to portray perceptions relating to common understanding by reflecting and describing unique and mostly pointed and accentuated situations. Guided by a person, the relationship to the architecture surrounding him is portrayed and analyzed. Instead of being critical or glorifying, our interest is based on a theory of cognition.

The film points out that a city and her urban quality can not only be determined by commonly accepted standards (historicity, funtionality, aesthetics).

People, whose behaviour or looks diverge from norm, can be found everywhere. The resulting difference of intellectual/ social/ aesthetic distictions and normative representation is the main theme of our film. By no means should it be a matter of conventional documentaries on social problems, on the contrary, the approach is based on a formal phenomenon: DISSONANCE (the putative disagreement of "beautiful architecture" and people who can not/ must not or don't want to use it), ACCEPTANCE (the fact that "decent" people, either inhabitands or visitors are hardly present physically, only in strict rituals with legal of commercial background, whereas our 'leading actor", Mr. Erich Mittermeyer, a professional shoeshine, has developed a close relationship to the architecture surrounding/ excluding him), REFLECTION (social acting is not equivalent to material redistribution and charity, but recognition and acceptance within a social structure).

The production of the film was somewhat unconventional. The "script" follows the habits of those social classes our leading actor belongs to. Mr. Erich Mittermayer, in Salzburg better known as "Erich, the Shoeshine" is a charismatic character, impersonating the quality of common representation. "Erich, the Shoeshine" may be better known as all public represenatives of the city. A person, that - through his distincitve behaviour, even through his appearance - produces common immages, seems to be the ideal actor in film like this.

The first production step was the gathering of "raw material". We simply accompanied Mr. Mittermayer, gave him no instructions of any kind, simple let our video cameras react to the respective situations. Possibly his actions were somewhat influenced by the unfamiliar situation, however, we tried to minimize obstructions and manipulations. Surprises, unexpected turns, unforeseen developments were welcome in this stage of production, thus influencing the final film.

We chose a perspective that shows the filmed person in connection with Salzburg's architecture. It goes without saying that we respected the habits of Mr. Mittermayer and reacted to his autonomous decisions. As a result, the view of Salzburg's architecture is unusual and extraordinary.

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