• Germany's news in English

Vivienne Dick: ‘Experimentation becomes an important way to resist’

Ben Knight · 15 Nov 2009, 12:42

Published: 15 Nov 2009 12:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A lot of people compare Berlin now with New York in the 1970's. Do you understand what they mean?

It's to do with the recession. Maybe it's something to do with the city as well. But I think it's more to do with the recession, or – I don't know what to call it – the unemployment situation. People can't get work, but they have to be able to eat, so they live here for less than you can in London or Dublin. But at the same time you've got more time to do creative things. That's what happened in New York then.

Is that why you went over there?

I was following my instinct, I'd say. There was nothing for me in Ireland. I was interested in working in photography, and there was no way to get work because they wouldn't employ women at the time. Plus you had to go to photography school to get work, and the course wouldn't take women. And in London? I didn't see much difference there.

All those people running around calling themselves artists were guys – it just didn't have that energy I found in New York. I immediately found that city a very creative place on a level I'd never come across anywhere. Perhaps it's like that here now.

What goes through your mind when you watch your films after 30 years?

I think they've stood the test of time, that's what goes through my mind. They still have this energy that's beyond me – it's an energy that's out there now. Creativity is not something you can own. If you start to believe you own it, then it withers. But the films do bring back a certain time as well. I mean I was younger, for a start. I look at them and think, "God, how beautiful we all were."

One of the films being shown at Britspotting, ‘Visibility Moderate,’ is about travelling back to Ireland. Why did you make that film then, after you'd been in New York so long?

I love travelling, I love entering different worlds. Obviously I know Ireland very well. When you live away from home and you go back you see it through the eyes of a stranger. You have a knowledge of a place, and you're more acutely open to the bizarreness of it. It was important to jump into making a film while I was still open to it. Part of the film is about the Ireland that Ireland is trying to sell, and what people kind of expect when they go there. Ireland's become so good at capitalising on this, and selling the blarney and the craic to death.

How do you feel about that?

Well, it's a load of nonsense isn't it? But it's interesting because everything is constructed anyway. You just get the feeling in Ireland they'd sell their granny if they had to. Things are collapsing in Ireland now though. Which is a good thing.

Is it, why?

It'll give us a break, you know? From this mad consumerism. Let us pause for a minute and see what we want, exactly.

So why did you go back?

Story continues below…

Lots of reasons. One – I got a job. Two – I was getting depressed. New York was beginning to close in on me. Three – I wanted to go back because I'd been away for twelve years. Four – I thought Ireland had changed, and I'd be able to go back. But I got a shock. I found out it was too soon for me.

Does the ‘experimental’ label bother you?

No, I've got nothing against it. We all have to be experimenting. We all have to discover new ways to describe the world. People who are successful making large-scale feature films are always experimenting and drawing on the avant-garde. They pick all those tricks up from the experimenters.

And I think in this proto-fascist world that we're going into now at the speed of light, experimentation becomes more and more important as a way to resist.

Ben Knight (ben.knight@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd