It’s Just a God Doing the Job!

by Brigitte Werneburg

A sassy and imaginative combination of documentary film, conceptual art and social work:? Robert Bramkamp’s film “The Boat God of the Lakeside Sports Club” opens today at the Brotfabrik

by Brigitte Werneburg

As God, you haven’t got a chance in this country. As God, you are condemned to long-term unemployment. None of the pious Christian, Judaist or Muslim faiths need to even bother nodding their heads in agreement of this; as of yet, it has never been reported anywhere that their God has even once applied to a job-creation program. Enki, the 5,000-year-old Sumerian Bringer of Civilization, on the other hand, did just that. And he failed.
At the moment he is a freelance artist, which is what he probably was for the longest time. Whether or not he could get funding for an “I-Inc.” program is not mentioned in Robert Bramkamp’s documentary film about the Wendisch-Rietz Lakeside Sports Club, which is where Enki was active a summer long. The film ends with Enki trying to convince his employment office caseworker to extend his job-creation program position at the sports club – if not as a god, then at least as an actor playing god. That way, he could deal with the permitted cultural tasks as defined by location and simultaneously slip into the role of janitor, thus also getting the required work at the sports club done.
On the one side, the proper job, which generates taxes and social benefits for the state; on the other, the voluntary activities that have nothing to do with the job market – Robert Bramkamp has transferred this socio-political, volatile fiction into a aesthetic fiction: He has taken the actual, existing fulltime job at the Wendisch-Rietz Lakeside Sports Club (which, in turn, cannot afford to pay for it) and simply defined it as a godly issue. This brilliant maneuver changes his documentary film into a great film, a film both impudently political and extremely imaginative visually.
Enki, Sumerian God and totally normal, German job-creation program participant, has landed. Not in the chic Bad Saarow, but in an un-chic location. And there he wants to now distribute the mythical Me amongst the people – 100 of them, each one enabling a special ability. Me 33 permits the discovery of the correct house paint color. Each Me gets a yellow numbered sign and a location; this way Bramkamp can approach the facets of life and work at the club strictly documentarily while simultaneously but slowly labeling and serially numbering the entire landscape. Mundane jobs are staged as performance, and the commonplace documentary torques into a comedy. Picture postcards of the lake at sundown become intelligent conceptual art.
And here again Rober Bramkamp tests the limits of documentary film: Enki is really a role, and the actor Steffen “Schortie” Scheumann takes some risks in it. For he must help the laymen in their performances – the people at the club, from the lake and surrounding area – and they should not let themselves be distracted by Enki and his Godly, prophetic demeanor. It does not always work out like that, which sometimes takes its toll on Steffen Scheumann’s act. Exactly that, however, brings the documentary aspect of the film back into play: The question of the maintenance and development of the lakeside sport club’s social topography. On the Internet, the website continues to promote and drive the pertinent artistic activities of the network project.

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Erscheinungsdatum 1.6.2006, S. 27, 120 Z.