JULIKA RUDELIUS. Rites of Passage. 17.10.2008 – 29.11.2008

Press Release
Exhibition Views

english / deutsch

„Rites of Passage“ is the title of the brand new video by New York/Amsterdam artist Julika Rudelius (*1968, Cologne) that opens at the Galerie Reinhard Hauff on October 17th. The video explores the seductive coercion of influential political figures, and the attraction power exercises on young male interns working in the government offices of Washington DC. The launching of the film—presented as a double projection in the gallery rooms—coincides exactly with the bitter end-phase of the US election campaign and the turmoil on Wall Street, thus touching on the dynamics of current events on the socio-political scene. „Rites of Passage“ is also featured in „Heartland“ which recently opened at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

In the film, Julika Rudelius intersperses staged, fictional sequences combined with documentation on conversations and interactions between high-ranking representatives of American politics and young interns at the very beginning of their professional careers. The interns come from America’s elite universities, i.e. from a culture driven by competition, motivation, aggression and achievement. They are bred the self-assurance that comes with identifying with and belonging to „the select few“. The way these young men behave towards their superiors and mentors is characterized by admiration, opportunism and awe. Rudelius confronts the raw ambition of the career driven young men with the natural superiority of experienced politicians flaunting their power as charismatic leaders and professional seducers. The ambivalent relationship between politician and intern, master and pupil, is observed by Rudelius as an almost homoerotic game where the distinctive sex appeal of power is a natural consequence and ingredient of „charismatic leadership”.

In „Rites of Passage”, just as in Rudelius ’ previous films „Adrift“ (2007) and „Forever“ (2006), the film’s atmospheric pictures purposely lend themselves to open-ended interpretation. Rudelius zooms in on the predominance of non-verbal communication of authority, submission and obedience. In the sequence of scenes, shot in wood-panelled offices, the setting, clothing, gestures and looks are played out with aggressive erotic overtones, which convey the authority of the dominator, while the deferential and attentively compliant body language characterize the behaviour of the interns.
In this film, as well as in earlier films portraying managers, immigrants, millionaires and socialites shown in institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Cologne Kunstverein – and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Julika Rudelius subtly exposes the diverse manifestations of codes and behavioural dynamics which govern systems of hierarchy in specific groups and various social environments.