By cinematically bringing alive 13 iconic paintings by Edward Hopper, Austrian artist Gustav Deutsch reflects upon the social changes in 20th-century America through the character of Shirley.
Liberal, charismatic and emancipated woman living in mid 20th century, New York actress Shirley is Deutsch’s amalgam of various female characters from 13 canvases by Edward Hopper. In equal temporal intervals, the camera follows 31 years of her life, with each new sequence, an accurate reproduction of one of Hopper’s paintings, taking place on the same day: 28 August. Through Shirley’s contemplations on art and politics, the film records three decades of changes in American social landscape.
»Based on my conviction that history is made up of personal stories and my reading of John Dos Passos’ USA novel trilogy which portrays the life stories and destinies of a few as representatives of the wider social, cultural and life histories of the US, I have chosen an actress as the film’s protagonist – Shirley – through whose reflective and contemplative inner monologues we experience the US from the beginning of the 1930’s through to the mid-1960’s.«
- Gustav Deutsch
Born in Vienna in 1952, Deutsch is an Austrian filmmaker and visual artist. Graduating in architecture from the Vienna University of Technology, he is the leading figure of the international found-footage cinema. Together with Hanna Schimek, his partner in work and life, he combs film archives throughout the world for neglected or forgotten material and creates intricate and poetic »re-readings« of these archival treasures.