Heavy Metal Detox
Josef Dabernig´s films are always highly calculated, based on a meticulously detailed script. In a self-reflexive move, he is also turning his attention to the mechanical side of life and its absurdly scripted elements. Traffic regulations and slot machines, routine cleaning and fitness monotony in his films reveal the deeply comical character of our existence, in ironical accordance with the famous Henri Bergson´s theory of mechanical as the source of the comical. In Heavy Metal Detox, the dental drilling machine and a highly precise order of medical procedures, are one of these comical devices, with an important twist: here, the artist himself is undergoing the treatment, which means that he has to surrender control. Not completely (the film is still carefully edited), but enough to evoke the humility of humans confronted to the powerful higher force, here of a mighty dental surgeon. It is from his perspective (unknown to most of mere mortals unless they are dentists themselves) that we are primarily watching the film.
The procedure was linked to Dabernig´s medical condition of that year that required, among other things, the replacement of all of his amalgam filling. Here, the human body is added new spare parts, repaired like a mechanism or even updated like software. With this, the body is also cleaned from disease remnants. The very modernist dialectics of the "purified" and the "unpurified" (that we could also call "real") is at the core of many Dabernig´s films. He is never deserting the awkwardness of the Real in favor of the artistic perfection of the Pure; in his films, they often quarrel and struggle in a hilarious way. Here, for instance, the organ music by Christoph Herndler that "elevates" the scene is subtly mixed with real construction site noises, compressors and drills. (Ekaterina Degot)
Heavy Metal Detox as an aesthetic paraphrase on the removal of amalgam dental fillings. The procedure - mirrored from spiritual, sarcastic, existential and nihilistic perspectives - condenses into a cantata in film format.
Viennale Katalogtext 2019
Viennale catalogue text 2019
Heavy Metal Detox