”Let’s get out of here,” says Paul Newman at the beginning of Ingeborg Stana’s video Getaway. But the viewer has nowhere to go. The camera does not move: it is fixed on the sky, which is inexplicably calm, whereas civilization – on the soundtrack – beyond, on the other side, whirls turbulently around like a centrifuge of chaos, violence and dread.
Formally, the filmic excerpt is reminiscent of the heyday of avant-garde filmmaking, Warhol’s best and most radical films, and scepticism towards narrative filmmaking’s “corny juxtaposition of images that really don’t belong together”. As P.A. Sitney wrote in 1969, in his classic essay on experimental film: “The Structural film insists on its shape. Structural film withholds the protagonist in favour of an increased awareness of the camera. The simplified structure is a representation of the human mind.” In terms of genre, Getaway is undoubtedly a Structural film, which insists on its own formal autonomy. But it does not really resemble the classical films of the avant-garde; it is too poetic, too real, too implicitly political. Not that the film is in any way retro, on the contrary, it warns of an impending catastrophe.
Utopia and collapse, latent catastrophe and stoical calm are juxtaposed in Stana’s concentrated video work. In Getaway the soundtrack and the image set up a radical contrast – two separate and disunited elements – which stands in opposition to the illusionism of mainstream cinema. Nevertheless, the sound and the image contaminate each other through the interchange of serenity and unrest. The shots seem to borrow a kind of peacefulness from the clouds’ slow transience, and the sky is characterised by a new form of instability, of discontinuity. How long will it last? For how long can confusion reign?