accidents will happen


1994, 00:07:30, PAL, color, sound, Z001 05

In the video accidents will happen, Angela Zumpe created a dystopian vision of the present. She used the medium’s aesthetic possibilities in diverse ways: The use of Paintbox and digital effects permitted a layered superimposition of images and the tripartite horizontal division of the image using split screen. Zumpe contrasted the dominant figure in the film, a stone angel with its face destroyed, with shots of spaces of desire such as seascapes, forests, and meadows, with images of children, and with sequences of catastrophes from airplane and helicopter crashes. She made use of found footage from the archives of the American television station NBC. In addition to this overpowering visual collage, one essential element of this work is the spoken text, which is deeply rooted in the history of European culture: On the one hand, Zumpe employed fragments from Walter Benjamin’s ninth thesis from Über den Begriff der Geschichte (1940, translated as “On the Concept of History ”), which was a reflection on Paul Klee’s drawing Angelus Novus (1920) and concerns the “angel of history,” written under the impression of National Socialist tyranny. On the other hand, Zumpe makes use of passages from Heiner Müller’s poem Der glücklose Engel (1958, translated as “The Luckless Angel”), whom the poet describes, in a continuation of Benjamin, as wedged between the “detritus of the past ” and the “congested future.” Based on both texts, Zumpe developed the leitmotif of her video: the stone angel. She thus expanded her artistic approach to include a critique of technology. What at first seems to be an apparent contradiction between technological progress and catastrophes caused by technology turns out to be part of a social evolution of risks. Zumpe’s work stands for a sociocritical questioning of technology that is at the same time on a high technical level and employs diverse images.