Two real events form the background to Transient Witness, by Assaf Gruber (The Right, Lo Schermo dell’Arte 2016): the donation of the extraordinary archive of the 20th century avant-garde by Egidio Marzona to the State Museums of Dresden (SKD) , and the stealing of the so-called Treasury of Saxony on the night of November 25, 2019 in Grüne Gewölbe, the Green Vault. This is one of the institutions that make up the Dresden museum complex, which at the end of the 18th century was the private cabinet and symbolic place of the unbridled collecting of its founder, Frederick Augustus (called The Great), also one of the first sovereigns who made his private collections accessible to the public, effectively giving life to one of the first modern museum models in Europe.
Freely inspired by these facts, and by the children's book About Two Squares by El Lissitzky, the film reflects on the historic relationships in Europe that unite the act of collecting and stealing, the public sphere and private, ethics and aesthetics, power and its representation. Transient Witness revolves around three main characters: Marzona's personal assistant; the art handler who has the task of transferring the collection to Dresden; and Präsens (German for present), the collector's dog, whose gaze is entrusted, thanks to first-person shooting, with the task of making us discreet spectators of the facts as they unfold. The circular and cumulative structure of the film is also underlined by the Italian popular song Alla Fiera dell’Est by Angelo Branduardi, whose text is inspired by Chad Gadya, the Jewish Passover song in which characters symbolize key figures in the history of the people of Israel.
The talk will be preceded by the Italian premiere of the film Transient Witness by Assaf Gruber at Cinema La Compagnia, Saturday 19 November 2022, 17:30, as part of the 15th edition of "Lo schermo dell’arte - Festival di cinema e arte contemporanea".