The End of Alice

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Stations of the Cross, St Stephen Walbrook, London, 2017

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:
Alice in the Cities (1974) 


The Third Station: Jesus falls the first time

A reading from the Book of Acts:

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.’
The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

‘The end of Wim Wenders’ Alice in the Cities (1974), comprising a close up shot of a young girl (Yella Rottländer) sitting inside a train carriage, an ascending aerial landscape view, and a scrolling credit sequence, is cut in three, timeshifted, looped and superimposed on itself. When the credits reach the end, the whole scene is repeated with the footage reversed. The film’s soundtrack theme is similarly timeshifted and layered. In the film, the child Alice has been abandoned by her mother; in this context perhaps a reference to Jesus’ own feelings of abandonment by God the Father.The slowed down footage of Alice blinking makes her appear drowsy, as if she is falling asleep or more literally ‘falling’. She is the still point within a chaotic world and through the final establishing shot we are given a privileged view of seeing this world from a distance. The rolling credits reveal who the director is — who is ‘in control’ — and the work could perhaps be understood as presenting the death of Jesus within the framework of a broader divine plan. The inclusion of a film’s closing credit sequence is a device that Dean returns to in each of the three Stations in which Jesus falls, used each time to different effect.’

Lucy Newman Cleeve, ‘From Station to Station – In the Order of Signs’