Mit einem Tiger schlafen (2024)


Mit einem Tiger schlafen Review

Sleeping with a Tiger by Anja Salomonowitz is a complex film. It is extremely rich in meaning and highly polished as a feature. As the saying goes, ‘In art there is nothing new under the sun,’ Maria knew that too during her time. At Berlinale 2024, Forum section.

A woman, an artist

It’s not easy to tell the story of Carinthian painter Maria Lassnig (1919 – 2014) in pictures, it wouldn’t be appropriate to use classical linear mise-en-scene either when dealing with such a character. Nevertheless, Anja Salomonowitz known for her willingness to experiment with different cinematic languages succeeded admirably here once again. Sleeping with a Tiger premiered at Berlinale 2024 within Forum being probably the most suitable homage possible paid by any Kappler am Krappfelder artist through such means.

So scenes from famous painters’ lives are intermingled with their paintings which often take up space on screen without need for caption or sound. Sleeping with a Tiger re-traces almost chronologically Maria Lassnig’s (represented on this occasion by versatile Birgit Minichmayr) most significant life stations: childhood spent at grandmother’s house in Carinthia; difficult relationship with mother (Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg), periods lived in Paris and USA, last years back home again where she eventually became famous but still refused strongly selling her valuable pictures or organizing exhibitions.

Maria Lassnig is standing as if in trance inside her studio preparing another painting. Her body contracts itself and, moving so unnaturally, reflects artist’s lifelong attitude towards human figure. like some kind of prison which only when changing shape allows its inmate finally break free from it. Therefore Sleeping With A Tiger proves to be fully consistent with the poetics of this artist and also becomes one its supports of work along various forms contamination as did Lassnig at that time.

This is a feature film by Anja Salomonowitz where painting meets cinema thus creating beautiful harmony between two. When Maria’s short film Selfportrait (1971) appears on the screen for a while, everything suddenly acquires almost surrealistic character: when some ants (always ‘friends’ of young Maria) help girl to move one of paintings or tiger comes into her studio unexpectedly.

But, it is more than that. Sleeping with a Tiger, the non-conformist VALIE EXPORT’s art harshly criticised by the painter or when we witness Arnulf Rainer the young painter and his turbulent relationship to Lassnig immediately becomes a complex feature film about making art and never banal (“to achieve the same results as a man, a woman has to work three times as hard”) but also about women’s difficulty in asserting themselves within what is essentially male territory and how our lives are always influenced by sometimes narrow-minded society and religion. In this light, however, Anja Salomonowitz gave us an extremely rich and sophisticated multi-layered movie. Never does she shy away from going overboard with her love for Maria Lassnig who was also not afraid of exaggerating things in her days. So brave without being too much at any given point Birgit Minichmayr proves herself once again!

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