Crane OPERAtions
Melanie Hollaus' construction site videos
Austrian Airlines Verwaltungsgebäude
Crane OPERAtor

Melanie Hollaus has a background in the theatre, but in recent years she increasingly turned to video as an additional, alternative and complementary medium. Her work comprises experimental cinema adverts for a book store as well as projects which have, in one way or another, a documentary root. All the works I know are poetic and often pick up on Godard as a reference point, both in terms of aesthetic elements which are borrowed and extended as well as an attitude towards openness and attempts to connect, with the difference that Melanie Hollaus’ work never appears to be didactic...

If there is a common thread to her documentary work then I would locate it in attempts to subtly extract something like a poetic core of whatever is of interest. The amount of actual information given can vary, from being quite factual in social documentaries like her film about the Bocksiedlung in Innsbruck, which explores the history and background of an “impromptu” settlement of a marginalised ethnicity and its eventual dissolution, to almost not containing any factual content at all in short videos, which none-the-less refer to something real, are non-fictional. Among these are videos which capture theatre projects, without ever falling into the trap of trying to become some sort of substitute for being present at the actual event. These videos rather have an aesthetic quality and purpose of their own. In fact, for the videos chosen here it is hard to distinguish what is a capture of an operatic event staged in the dig out of a massive construction site for a multi storey office block from the factual capture of the demolition of such an office block as if it were a subtle and intriguing ballet or the projection of the daily work on such a site onto a nearby exhibition cube.

What they have in common is, that they locate the exalted state of opera and the grace associated with ballet in the most profane of environments, and not only as something that may have to be brought to them, but something they may intrinsically contain.

For more information about Melanie Hollaus check out her video channel on YouTube or her web site at

Bernhard Gaul, March 2013


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