Toilette is the contemplation of simple everyday actions, the rediscovery of new rhythms, the enhancement of oneself and of the human body, concrete becoming abstract and vice versa. The black and white images are more alive than ever. Actions and details become pure cinema. Cinema and metacinema. At the Diagonale’22.
The act of watching and being watched. A precious slowness. The enhancement of the human body in its special aura of mystery. In what way are we used to observe what surrounds us? And again, how can we finally understand the quintessence of what is presented before our eyes? To the act of watching, director Friederike Pezold has always paid great attention in her films, often criticising a world in which we are constantly observed in an invasive or voyeuristic way and in which everything is shown to us explicitly, and trying to ‘re-educate’ the viewer to the act of observing in its deepest and noblest sense. The experimental feature Toilette – shown to the audience again at the Diagonale’22 in the In Referenz section together with other works by Pezold – is therefore particularly significant in this sense.
A woman – Friederike Pezold herself – wears a kimono and sits – still visibly sleepy – in front of the camera and a television set. Her face appears on the screen in front of her. The woman steps out of the scene, the television set is in the foreground and, finally, we get to the heart of the story. Various parts of her body are filmed in detail by the camera and appear on the television screen. At first they seem almost like abstract images that change shape and move sinuously. The slowness of the movements enhances them and only once we too have come into contact with what is being shown to us, do we begin to recognise them.
Toilette is the contemplation of simple everyday actions, the rediscovery of new rhythms, the appreciation of oneself and of the human body, concrete becoming abstract and vice versa. The black and white images are more alive than ever (made so also by the amplified and sometimes distorted sounds), every single gesture is in its slowness and simplicity incredibly precious. The hectic life, the limited time available, the lack of desire to take a closer look at what we encounter every day are here abandoned. Now it is time to rediscover the importance of observation. Normal everyday life, simple gestures and details become pure cinema. Cinema and metacinema. To the cinema, then, the task of making us rediscover the value of images.
Toilette represents the quintessence of Pezold’s poetics and lays the foundations for important future works, in which – as in the case, for example, of Canale Grande (1983) or the recent Revolution der Augen (2022), which were also presented at the Diagonale’22 – the society in which we live is strongly criticised, in which we are always being observed in the “wrong” way (see, for example, the numerous surveillance cameras throughout the city), in which we can never (or never want to) take the time to get to the bottom of things. The importance of images and what they communicate to us. The deconstruction of the image itself. The power of cinema. A new way of observing reality understood as a revolutionary act. Toilette is always topical and in its simple complexity reveals itself to be a refined manifestation of Beauty.
Original title: Toilette
Directed by: Friederike Pezold
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 1979
Running time: 82’
Cast: Friederike Pezold
Screenplay: Friederike Pezold
Cinematography: Friederike Pezold
Produced by: Friederike Pezold Produktion