Beethoven vs Chopin (2015)

Aikaterini Gegisian & Fatma Çiftçi
Collage Film

DV Pal, colour & b/w, stereo sound, 3 mins
A collaboration with Fatma Ciftci funded by the Artists’ International Development Fund, UK
Vimeo Link: https://vimeo.com/135037826 / Password: wantlist

Beethoven vs Chopin combines scenes from the Greek musical The Most Bright Star (Το πιο λαμπρό αστέρι, 1967) and its Turkish rendition into a romantic melodrama The Black Eyed One (Kara Gözlüm, 1970), with audiovisual excerpts from the classic Hollywood comedy Some Like It Hot (1959). While working girls—singers—are the central figures in all three films (played by national and international stars such as Aliki Viougiouklaki, Türkan Şoray and Marilyn Monroe), Beethoven vs Chopin edits out women except for the cross-dressed jazz musicians of Some Like It Hot. The video focuses instead on culturally specific, dated and lasting poses of masculinity and the masquerade performed by two middle-class and classically educated musicians. In their romantic pursue of Katerina and Azize, the protagonists slip into the vulgar guise of pop musicians despite their loathing of lowbrow taste, for which the girls mock them with the nicknames of the classical composers that give the video its title.

In a multifaceted feminist gesture, Gegisian and Çiftçi subvert the objectification of the female body in cinema and turn their gaze on male bodies. The song “I Wanna Be Loved By You” that underpins the naïve portrayal of Monroe in Some Like It Hot becomes an empowering reclamation of female desire and the video’s “motor for linking of lives, geographies and cultures.” Insightful juxtapositions question gender relationships, illuminate the social construction of male and national identity in Greece and Turkey in the 1950s and ’60s, while alternating male gazes further foreground the fluidity of gender roles with a tad of feminist irony: “I am a man. Nobody is perfect” according to ending line of Some Like It Hot. The product of a collaboration that reinforces intercultural dialogues between two countries whose relations are fraught with conflict and symbiosis—a complex dynamic that Gegisian and Çiftçi investigate in their scavenging of the pop archive—the wryly antagonistic title Beethoven vs Chopin adds an ironic touch to their finds.”

Text by Kalliopi Minioudaki, for the catalogue of Fireflies in the Night Take Wing, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Athens, June 23–26, 2016. A video art survey organized by curators Barbara London, Kalliopi Minioudaki, Francesca Pietropaolo with artistic director Robert Storr.
https://www.e-flux.com/announcements/53297/fireflies-in-the-night-take-wing/