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The Ship of Fools, 2007

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The Ship of Fools

4-channel film installation
Colour, sound
Shot on Super-16mm
Converted to HD-SR and transferred onto Blu-ray Disc
Aspect ratio 16:9
Loop, 7 min 23 sec
Edition 6 + 2 ap

In the four-channel film installation The Ship of Fools (2007), filmed at the Baroque manor Schloss Sacrow near Potsdam, the location itself becomes the protagonist of the scenery through its history. Built during the Romantic period, Schloss Sacrow was temporarily inhabited by artists such as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy; during World War II, it was home to a Nazi officer; in the course of Germany’s division it was trapped in the death zone of the Berlin Wall and served as a training facility for watchdogs guarding the Berlin Wall, while nowadays it is declared as a World Heritage site and a destination for Sunday strolls. Rosefeldt combines the site – symbolising the metamorphosis and continuity of German national sentiments from the Romantic era through National Socialism, the division of Germany to nowadays – with equally emotionally charged and melancholic scenes reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich: sheepdogs are defending an old oak tree; a well-built skinhead stares into the far distance before disappearing into the swamp; an opera singer performs Wagner; a ship loaded with a crowd silently waving German flags appears out of nowhere and passes a lone wanderer standing on the shore.

The work is a sceptical epitaph on German sensitivities and on the still problematic dealing with German identity. Characterised by an agitating immobility, the four tableaux vivants in The Ship of Fools visualise the risk of stagnation.

Summarised from Stefan Berg and Katerina Gregos, in: Julian Rosefeldt: Film Works (2008)

Exhibitions / Catalogues

– Julian Rosefeldt. Manifesto. Works 2005–2017, HOW Art Museum, Shanghai, September–December 2017
Elective Affinities, Arsenals Exhibition Hall / The Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, June–August 2016 
– Die Sammlung. Color and Content, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, December 2012 (curated by Stephan Berg)
Julian Rosefeldt. The Ship of Fools, Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz, Vienna, October–November 2012 (curated by Angela Stief)
fast forward 2. The Power of Motion, ZKM, Karlsruhe, June–October 2010 (curated by a.o. Peter Weibel, Gregor Jansen;
Julian Rosefeldt: American Night, Kunstmuseum Bonn, November 2009–January 2010 (curated by Stephan Berg;
Contour 2009: The 4th Biennial of Moving Image, Mechelen, August–October 2009 (curated by Katerina Gregos;
Julian Rosefeldt – The Ship of Fools, Max Wigram Gallery, London, November–December 2008
Julian Rosefeldt. The Ship of Fools, Arndt & Partner, Berlin, May 2008
Julian Rosefeldt. The Ship of Fools, Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, January 2008
XIV. Rohkunstbau: Drei Farben – Weiss, Schloss Sacrow, Potsdam, July–August 2007 (curated by Mark Gisbourne;


Berg, Stephan, et al., eds. Julian Rosefeldt: Film Works. Ostfildern, 2008.

Film Credits

Tanja Simic (Opera Singer)
Cem Süzer (Skinhead)
Falk Witt (Man with Falcon)
Hermann Rosefeldt (Man on Waterfront)
Martin Neander (Chaffeur)

Director of Photography: Christoph Krauss
Production Managers: Sandra KnapeWassili Zygouris
Production Designer:  Felicity Good
Costume Designer: Almut Eppinger
Make-up Artist: Katharina Thieme
Gaffer: Oliver Mehlis
Sound Recording: Florian Kühnle
Set Manager: Ralf Wenning
Set Dresser: Daniel Ben Sorge
Assistant DoP: Frederik Tegethoff
Steadicam: Steph Ketelhut
Key Grip: Yves Hoffman, André Schmidt
Best Boy: Niko Mölter
Assistant Production Manager: Christin Freitag
Set Photographer: Georg Bochem
Set Runners: Dagmar Wendelmuth, Valeria Schwarz
Assistant to Falk Witt: Jeff Wood
Catering: Sascha Verkerk

Editor: Arturo Martinez
Postproduction: Pictorion das werk berlin GmbH
Project Manager das werk: Hannes Andresen
Colourist: Niko Hauter
Compositing: Christian Tröger, Kalle Max Hofmann
Technical Support: Alex Falk
Postproduction Sound: Tonstudio Hanse Warns
Foley Artist: Carsten Richter
Re-recording / Sound Editors: Florian Kühnle, Markus Stemler

Camera, Light & Grip Supplier: Cinegate GmbH
Remote Crane Supplier: Gripscorner GmbH
Balloon-Light Supplier: Chiemsee-Light
SFXBjörn Friese
Processing & Telecine: Schwarzfilm Postproduktion GmbH
Insurance: A. Huber & Co.
Transport: Medias Reiseservice GmbH
Film Stock: Fuji Kine Film Vertriebsges. MbH

Richard Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder, Christa Ludwig / Otto Klemperer,
New Philharmonic Orchestra, EMI Classics, 1999

Supported by:
Rohkunstbau, Berlin / Potsdam

Shot in Berlin and Potsdam, 2007

Written, directed and produced by Julian Rosefeldt

All rights reserved © Julian Rosefeldt
Film & Video Works / The Ship of Fools, 2007