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What Weakens The Flesh Is The Flesh Itself

James Richards , Steve Reinke

Germany, USA, 2017
40 minutes, colour, stereo, 16:9
Original format: HD video
Available formats: HD digital file
What Weakens The Flesh Is The Flesh Itself - James Richards and Steve Reinke (2017)

Chicago-based Steve Reinke and Berlin-based James Richards may be artists separated by twenty years of age and the Atlantic Ocean, but they share a fascination with psychically haunting images that “elicit, fulfill or negate some desire.” Their collaborative videos combining various media clips are deeply unsettling as they produce ambiguous, often visceral sensations rather than knowledge. What Weakens the Flesh Is the Flesh Itself originated in production designer and actor Albrecht Becker’s (1906–2002) auto-erotic photo collection held by The Schwules Museum* in Berlin. In these staged and manipulated self-portraits, Becker both poses in his street clothes and shows off his radically modified, tattooed body, including a sculptural penis. The video evolves into a profound meditation on masculine self-fashioning and the materiaility of flesh and of analog and digital images, where the double identity of the artists commingles with Becker’s split personas in the shadows of the archive. For film scholar Erika Balsom, the film is ultimately “a means of feeling out how generations of men shape each other – in care and cruelty, pain and pleasure – as they live and die.”