Qualities of Life: Living in the Radiant Cold

Country: Germany
Duration: 17 mins
|29 Seconds
Sound: Stereo
Ratio: 4:3
Available Format/s: HD Digital File
Original Format: HD Video


Featuring Daily Photos and Observational Photos (both, 2000–2007) by Horst Ademeit (1937–2010), and an extract from Hemlock (2022) by Leslie Thornton. Special thanks to Fatima Hellberg. Single-channel site specific video installation, 2K, colour, stereo sound, 17’29”. Courtesy of the artist, the Estate of Horst Ademeit, and Fondazione In Between Art Film

The work is a material and metaphorical endoscope that records and compiles domestic still lifes, detritus, and civic sewage systems into a poetry and music suite to look closer at the private and public dimensions of decay, hygiene, and contagion. Over its stanzas, it focuses with granular attention on the different materials it collects, as if involved in the anamnesis of a self, a body, a house, a city. The film entangles the macro with the micro scale across nonlinear discourses, from the millennial evolution of bees’ social structure—a footage originally filmed by artist and often collaborator Leslie Thornton—to the brief analysis of a body through an MRI scan. One of its guiding forces is a series of images from the archive of Horst Ademeit, whose obsessive, multi-decade imperative was to register the detrimental impact of radiations (or invisible, “cold” rays, as he called them) on his body and his surroundings. In another stanza, various erotic, narcotic, and nostalgic remains from Richards’s apartment and studio are gathered, scanned, and animated into mental conglomerates. Throughout the film, objects and subjects, bodies and images only solidify for a moment before smearing their borders, drifting into something else. Voices and percussions developed with musicians and actors rhythmically emerge and submerge, causing novel interferences. The film poses a survivalist dilemma, or maybe a trick, in the subtly mundane and infrastructural dimension that it traverses.

More works by James Richards

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