Christopher Roth

Are You Happy?

The video Are You Happy? is based on architect Arno Brandlhuber’s collection of 40 advertisements where major investors or developers present their luxurious residential projects. In a revealing way, Brandlhuber / Roth select clips from these videos, freely available on the Internet, and combine this found footage material with new film material in a visual collage with the song Beton Brut by the band Ornament & Verbrechen, consisting of Ronald and Robert Lippok, featured on the soundtrack. The video focuses on three Berlin projects: “Kronprinzengärten” (Bauwert Investorengroup) in the city’s historical center, “CarLoft® GmbH” in Kreuzberg’s Paul-Lincke-Höfen, and “yoo”, a collaboration between international real estate developer John Hitchcox and designer Philippe Starck. Starck’s own presentation of “yoo” becomes a key part of the work. While Arno Brandlhuber / Christopher Roth do not explicitly comment on the conventionalized representation of luxury architecture, the music by Ornament & Verbrechen and the clips of real film—a radical right-wing protest with a large police presence, a man playing the flute through his nose—serve to defamiliarize the material, taking it to the point of the absurd. Brandlhuber himself appears at the end of the film in an ironic take on his own role as architect and urban planner. The architect proposes a critical engagement with the current situation in Berlin, especially in terms of social policy and processes of gentrification. Brandlhuber is also a visual artist, as documented by his recent solo show at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in 2012. In making Are You Happy?, he collaborated with the artist and director Christopher Roth (Looosers [1995], Baader [2002]), who works at the interface between popular culture and politics.