Sweeping changes in Eastern Europe

Hongisto, Ilona (2017): Sweeping changes in Eastern Europe: The documentary frame in Gerd Kroske’s Kehraus trilogy (1990–2006). Necsus – European Journal of Media Studies, vol. 6, no. 1.

Seeking to expand established notions of documentary cinema, this essay suggests that the indexical, the evidentiary and the representational are not enough to account for the work of documentary cinema in the real. Drawing on Gerd Kroske’s Kehraus trilogy (1990, 1997, 2006) on the lives of street sweepers in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the essay proposes that documentary cinema be considered ‘an aesthetics of the frame’. The argument of the essay builds on the ways in which the three films relate the visible and the audible in the frame to what is left out. The outside of the frame becomes a defining element in how the documentaries capture and express the enfoldment of the Post-Wall transition period to the lives of the protagonists. Through analysing the technological, stylistic and contextual qualities of the documentary frame in the three films, the essay draws attention to the frame’s embeddedness in the politics of recognition and in processes of actualisation. Instead of locating Kroske’s longitudinal project to the tradition of the indexical chronicle, the essay shows how the trilogy pushes reality to actualise.

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