Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart, a series of five, silent, black-and-white films of operations were shot with a 16mm Bolex film camera in the operating room: Heart, Stomach, Blood Flow, Vertebra, Eye/Hand. Two choreographies overlap: that of the surgeons and that of the intuitive-conceptual camera editing during the filming. The extremely concentrated material ends in several cases before the operation is over, rips open into white. Christina Lammer´s films require elaborate preparations: the artist and sociologist makes on site samples, sketches, and studies the time lapses with the digital Bolex. Together with all involved, she works out the concept and mutual trust: "The negotiation processes - not only with the patients who allow me to film their operations, but also with the entire hospital administration and the medical ethics commission - are, in fact, quite complex. I get along well with the patients. I ask for their consent, and give a detailed explanation of my intentions and how I handle the pictures. Since they are not personally recognizable in almost all of the operations, they gladly allow me to film in the operating room. I also visit the patients regularly as long as they are in the hospital. That is a part of it for me, and flows in the further film and video work intuitively or as experience. There is nothing uncomplicated about this form of film."(Ch.L.)

The skin as a linear border developed along with the bourgeois individual in the modern era; there were times when it was perceived as more permeable, as a porous mesh that is a potential opening. In Lammer´s films, hands covered in brightly colored gloves with shiny operating tools stake out the terrain, make contact with the fluids, tissues, bowels, and organs of the opened body - and unearth the "small, specific frissons" (W. Benjamin). Tactile qualities structure the gaze in this somatic contact zone. A precise cut, the pulsating movement of the hand in the depths of the body, sputtering blood, valiant gripping of an organ, threading hands, a tiny nerve - all of this in the fine, soft gray tones of the empathetic film material. (Madeleine Bernstorff)

Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt

Orig. Title
19 min
Christina Lammer
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
Christina Lammer
Concept & Realization
Christina Lammer
Christina Lammer
Supported by
BKA. Kunst
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
16 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
18 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films