Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet

Tiefenschärfe / Depth of Field

Mareike Bernien:
lives and works in Berlin, GER

Alex Gerbaulet
lives and works in Berlin, GER

The scene of a crime is still a place. Nuremberg is still Nuremberg, even if National Socialism and the National Socialist Underground (NSU) have cast a dark shadow on the city. In their documentary approach, Bernien and Gerbaulet seek to grasp the complexity of history. They show places connected to the three murders that the NSU committed in Nuremberg between 2000 and 2005 and expand the narrative to include the dimension of the entire complex.
While a narrator outlines the individual fates, gives an account of the authorities’ misconduct, who presumed that the perpetrators were to be found in the surroundings of the victims, and problematizes the ensuing media reports and the stigmatization of the victims as criminals, the German and Turkish languages mingle with Bavarian dialect. Everyday accounts of the victims are juxtaposed with low points in the German history of Nuremberg: » Nuremberg, city of the Reichsparty convention. Nuremberg laws. Nuremberg under attack. Nuremberg process.«
The artist duo unfolds a multiple narrative that seeks to do justice to all dimensions. Media-related, personal, and national histories overlap, just like the views of the city that are shown either directly or as reflections on opaque windows. Depth of Field thus replicates the structures of the crime on a visual level as well, whose complexity is revealed through the spoken narration circling around the locations. The scenes gradually lead to a picture of a city whose building facades show no visible traces of the violent crimes that took place there. Only the tilting image frame, a central stylistic means, visualizes the disruption of normalcy and the collapse of daily life when violence erupts.
The artistic documentary film is the first collaboration between the two artists and adapts journalistic methods to question historical coherence and continuity.

Jana Bernhardt

Artist Statement
Depth of Field resulted from anger, rage, and uneasiness, as well as from years of dealing with the so-called 'NSU complex', a term designating the intertwining of right-wing terrorism and structural and institutional racism. But it was also motivated by the curiosity about exploring filmic means to express this. In the NSU complex and wherever institutional and structural racism is at work, suppressing, ignoring, and shifting migrant realities comes into effect. Reality was twisted by the investigation authorities to such an extent that for years only the families affected by the terror of the NSU were investigated and imagined as perpetrators. During the NSU trial at the Higher Regional Court in Munich, the fiction of a core trio with just a few supporters was ultimately maintained. Our film would like to reveal the permanent twisting and turning of these realities in the NSU complex. It is our aim to create fissures in the realities of the state investigation authorities and other instances of German ignorance.

Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet