Jumping Highrises

Bounding, shouting, showing his teeth, Tomash Schoiswohl jumps up and down in front of Viennese building landscapes where one luxury residential building after another is being raised up. In his hands he holds fluttering pictures of the high-rises being built and tells the stories of four building complexes that no longer exist. All four stood as symbols of social housing and were blown up amidst much commotion in the media: Two residential towers in Linz that had been built for employees of VÖEST, the Austrian steel conglomerate. The Toryglen housing estate in Glasgow, which was exploded in a blaze of color for a Sony commercial. The massive Pruitt-Igoe urban housing projects in St. Louis. And finally, the small fireworks house on Matzleinsdorfer Platz in Vienna that the filmmaker had used for art, music, and discussions for 20 years and was demolished the year before this film was made. The lo-fi staging of these stories gives the film its special character: old televisions held aloft serve to hold crib notes and are thrown into the street when they’re no longer needed. Footage of houses, their uses and their demolitions are brought to life on digitally printed slips of paper glued together. And cut fingernails and crooked teeth are just as much protagonists of the film as the Reumannhof, one of Vienna’s first municipal housing developments. Anger, sadness, and mischievousness come together in the stories and images of Jumping Highrises. The unusual coexistence of these affects creates a desirable antithesis to the bleak capitalist realism whose products can be experienced in the form of the city landscapes depicted. This desire for a radically different way of living, building, and social life announces an explosive power that is greater than a hundred wrecking balls. (Simon Nagy)


Video Art