May 2012 is a brief and powerful film composed of three visual elements. In the momentary opening shot the camera spies on riverside joggers from the Donaumarina U-Bahn station. Inside a nearby care home, two elderly women are eating. One is the artist´s mother, also seen in the films Nec Spec Nec Metu, Gutes Ende and Ich auch, auch, ich auch. She stares into the camera, from where a loving hand reaches out to caress her face. Finally, we see a Christmas pudding decorated and surrounded by candles, all afire. The scene is reminiscent of the flaming Christmas tree in Anger´s Fireworks but was in fact inspired by a viewing of Po zakonu (By the Law) by Kuleshov. The flames burn strongly and race out of control, causing the camera to become agitated, breaking free from its static point of observation, perhaps in panic.
The act of joining together of shots from different locations and time periods is an unusual one in Friedl vom Gröller´s filmography, but perhaps the more remarkable aspect of May 2012 is that it has a soundtrack – an extremely rare occurrence for a filmmaker primarily known for her single-event, silent, black and white, 16mm films. From before the first image appears, until after the last cut to darkness, we hear a loud warning siren, one that impregnates the film with a sense of anxiety or dread. (The civil protection alarm, a safety precaution used by the Austrian government to warn the public of disasters, is tested throughout the country one day each year.)
The film is characteristic of Friedl vom Gröller´s project to break down the separation between daily life and the making of art, being a particularly compelling example of her recent works that meditate on the process of ageing.
Friedl vom Gröller