In Freundschaft

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video & sound
duration: 10 min

Stations of the Cross, St Stephen Walbrook, London, 2017
Stations 2020, Arts Chaplaincy Projects, 2020

Laura Moffatt, ‘Stations of the Cross and Resurrection’, Art & Christianity, No 90, Summer 2017
Muriel Zagha, ‘From Psycho to Transcendence’, Elephant, 2017
Stations of the Cross | Stations of the Resurrection, Stations 2017, catalogue, ISBN 978-1-5272-0874-2s 

from the series Stations of the Cross

© acknowledgements:
The American Friend (1977) 

Commentary by Lucy Newman Cleeve for Stations 2020

The Ninth Station:  Jesus falls the third time

In Freundschaft or ‘In friendship’ combines sound from the beginning and image from the end of Wim Wenders’ film The American Friend (1977), based on two novels by Patricia Highsmith, Ripley Underground and Ripley’s Game. In the film, picture framer Jonathan Zimmerman (Bruno Ganz) believes that he is critically ill, and is coerced into becoming a hitman in order to provide for his wife and child. The audio from the beginning of the film depicts a conversation between Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper) and a painter discussing a forged art deal. The footage at the end shows Zimmerman lying dead in a car next to his wife Marianne (Liza Kreuzer). The scene is watched over by the (supposedly dead) painter who walks away from the camera as the end credits start to roll. The image and sound are looped, layered and time-shifted three times in reference to Jesus falling, becoming increasingly incoherent and disconcerting in the process. Whereas in previous works the credits have provided some sense of order, perhaps even implying a divine plan, here they become illegible through their repetition. 

This is perhaps the darkest and certainly the most opaque of Dean’s Stations of the Cross. The audio begins with the sound of a train whistling and a man singing to himself, “I’ve been doing some low down travelling, God knows I have” with tense music playing in the background. Distorted snippets of the conversation including, “I think this is serious”, “I’ve been waiting for you” and references to dirty-money art deals pop out, amplifying the sense of threat. The interwoven themes of money and death reinforce the extent to which a health crisis always inevitably becomes a financial crisis, and the role in which ‘thirty pieces of silver’ played in the death of Jesus.

In Freundschaft refers back to two earlier works included in Dean’s first solo show at City Racing in 1996: Nothing To Fear (The American Friend +-12) and I’m Confused (The American Friend +-50%). It is also the title of a 1977 work by Stockhausen, in which the four parameters of pitch, duration, dynamics, and timbre are all determined by a musical formula, the basic form of which is presented at the outset of the work. In returning to The American Friend as source material, Dean continues to experiment with its formal parameters in ways informed by serial and minimal composers and the borrowed title of the work seems to flag this up.