12. April 2013 – "In the Museum 2" by Mathis Gasser

In the Museum is narratively structured around a museum walk of US actor Christopher Walken. Zombies have invaded the museum; Walken makes use of artworks to defend himself against the threat. Some of the artworks become his allies and even start to attack the intruders; others remain unmoved or align with the zombies.

The entire film was shot with 30 cm small dolls; all the artworks were downsized to fit the scale. The hand that manipulates the dolls is visible throughout the film.

The In the Museum films reflect on a loose time period of the last 30+ years, with a first marker in 1978 when George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead came out. In Romero's view the film, where zombies return instinctively to the shopping mall, was a critical reflection on consumer culture. In 1979, the British Thatcher and the US Reagan administration enact changes in fiscal and monetary policy and deregulate vast aspects of the financial market. On the other end of the time frame, from 2008 onwards, the multiple crises financial institutions (and states) face can be traced back to decisions taken in the late 70. These 'real world' circumstances do not appear explicitly in the film, but In the Museum suggests a correlation between events that unfold within the imaginary museum and the wider economic-political sphere outside of it.

The figure of the zombie often acts as a metaphor for complex societal issues. Lars Bang Larsen notes on the zombie that ‘my proposal, perverse or braindead as it may be, is that the zombie begs a materialist analysis with a view to contemporary culture’.1 Throughout In the Museum, a violent subcurrent seems to exist that contradicts or animates the seemingly calm museal lifeblood. In an attempt to locate violence within culture, Cady Noland describes in her essay Towards a Metalanguage of Evil aspects of violence that are deeply embedded in various media, such as TV commercials, or types of aggressive consumerist behaviour.2

In the Museum 2 continues Christopher Walken’s museum walk. But this time the accent lies less on violence than on an almost surreal uprising of artworks. Paintings come down the wall and assemble, in order to create a massive, subconscious structure inside the museum, which Walken, fatally injured, enters. A Lynchian red inner structure opens that enables Walken to rest and sink deeper into his mind. It reaches ever deeper levels in this personal and museal subconscious, where scenes of his films merge with the collective memory.

[1] Lars Bang Larsen, Zombies of Immaterial Labor, e-flux Journal 15, 04/2010

[2] Cady Noland, Towards a Metalanguage of Evil (published in Balcon Nr. 4, 1989)