A film by Michal Kosakowski


‘Zero Killed’ can be still seen at the 14th Videonale at Kunstmusem Bonn, Germany. The exhibtion runs until April 7, 2013. Don’t miss it!

VIDEONALE.14 – Festival for Contemporary Video Art
VIDEONALE.14 – Zero Killed

“Zero Killed” is a documentary which examines murder fantasies. From 1996 on, Kosakowski produced films in which he asked people of different backgrounds about their thoughts of killing someone and then let them carry these out. These staged murders are the basis of “Zero Killed” and are acted out by the very people who had these fantasies. Ten years after the project ended Kosakowski set off again and interviewed the former protagonists about their intentions, experiences and the effect which “carrying out” their murder gave them. The insights which he gained varied greatly, but they all have one thing in common; everyone enjoyed the murder which they had originally just thought about. In “Zero Killed” film excerpts and interviews follow one another. The rapid switches between staged murder and recorded interviews lead the observer to alternate between different judgements of the same event. The protagonists enjoy talking about this forbidden theme, frequently with so much objectivity that it is difficult to believe these crimes did not take place. Kosakowski hints at an imagination which – if his interview partners are to be believed – is inherent in every one of us and which, despite all brutality, can also be felt as a liberation.

by Patrick Haas

Interview with Michal Kosakowski

1. Your work has been chosen among over 2000 festival entries to participate in VIDEONALE.14. In which context do you prefer to present your work, festival/cinema context or exhibition? And what kind of difference does the respective mode of presentation mean for you / your work?

Let me explain this question on the original idea of “ZERO KILLED”. The reason why I was shooting the short films on murder fantasies was the video-installation called “FORTYNINE” which was shown in 2007 at the Lothringer 13 Kunsthalle in Munich, Germany. It was a 5x4x3 meters mirror-walled cube that you could enter and look at 49 short films simultaneously which were back-projected on a screen. So basically, when you were standing in front of the projection wall, the reflections of the projection gave you the impression of being inside a room with infinite TV-screens in which not the content, but an army of millions of TV-screens was looking at you and you as a spectator became part of the installation, looking at the screens. The viewer was confronted with the unpleasant state of shock, only the closer view on the content revealed the short films on murder fantasies that were depicted on each screen. Firstly, this video-installation was my attempt to critisize the violent images on television itself that we are consuming non reflectively every day and secondly, to look at violent content in a surrounding that is far away from a safe home with a cozy couch where you can sit down and relax in front of TV.
Since it was very difficult to find money to set up the video-installation in other places, I asked myself in 2008, how it could be possible to bring the “FORTYNINE” short films on a big cinema screen. That seemed to be a logical step for me to distribute the short films. Just putting them one by one in a row, like an anthology film, wouldn’t be enough for me. That would be more likely to create a voyeuristic film rather than to bring up a critique on the depiction on violence as “FORTYNINE” had. So, within the creative process I came up with the idea to meet the participants of the short films again and to create video-interviews in which the participants were confronted with questions like “If someone murdered a person you love, how would you feel about it? Should torture be legalized? How would you define good and evil? Are soldiers murderers? What causes rampages? Are you for or against the death penalty?”. This juxtaposing with the fictitious murder fantasies and the real documentary style material allowed me to create similar critiques on the topic of violence as with the video-installation “FORTYNINE”. Furthermore, the end product which is the movie “ZERO KILLED” turned out to be a self-reflective docudrama which for me has a double-effect on the audience: While being affected by the horror depicted in the dramatizations of murder fantasies, we immediately have a direct or indirect “real” comment on the horror that is presented to us by the same persons which are the fictitious killers. At the same time we question what is more horrifying – the murder fantasies of normal people or the comments that the participants are popping out at us. Inevitably the dramaturgical structure of “ZERO KILLED” forces the audience to question themselves, “Do You Have Murder Fantasies?”, and towards issues such as revenge, good vs. evil, war, torture, rampage, media, domestic violence etc. Maybe “ZERO KILLED” is not so much about understanding the graphic violence, but more about feeling yourself and understanding your points of view through an unconventional approach.

So finally, both modes of presentation, festival/cinema and exhibition are important for my work to create an idea of a “bigger picture”.

2. Art can be seen as a mirror that registers and reflects life or as a tool that transforms it. Is there a particular theme, concept or problem your art addresses the most?

Violence in all its past, present and future forms, expressions, imaginations and consequences is at the center point of my creative work. Limits are often exceeded by violence – their crossings fascinate me the most.

3. In which way is the video medium an excellent possibility to express your intended subjects, especially in contrast to other media you use? Or do you work exclusively with video?

As a video- and filmmaker I can reach the most diverse public with my films. “ZERO KILLED” was screened at different venues such as the Documentary- and Anthropological Film Festival, the Horror Film Festival, the Underground Film Festival, educational institutions and universities and exhibitions. “ZERO KILLED” unifies all those different audiences with different backgrounds who would probably never meet in person. I work mostly with video because for me it is the most manipulative media tool with the highest possible expressive power.

4. If you have the chance to ask the visitors of the VIDEONALE.14 exhibition questions about your own work, what would be your question?

Do you have murder fantasies?

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