WHY ARE WE CREATIVE: THE CENTIPEDE’S DILEMMA
Dir.: Hermann Vaske; Documentary; Germany 2018, 84 min.
German born writer/director Hermann Vaske (Arteholic) asks more than fifty of the World’s most successful artists why they have chosen to express their creativity in their professional lives. Obviously, their answers are going to be superficial, since there is hardly time for a reflective answer in a film of just over an house. But there’s also no structure here, Vaske lists the answers he gets in a haphazard and roughly chronological order. It’s a trite film akin to flicking through a glossy copy of Hello! Hola or Point de Vue magazine.
Thirty years in the making, his project is the brainchild of the liberation he felt having just emigrated to London. And one his first candidates was David Bowie, who is also one of the few who turns up twice to talk about their creative impulses. Architect Franz Gehry uses drawings to explain his motives, the same goes for Damien Hirst, David Lynch and Ai Weiwei among others. Travelling to Davos for the economic summit, Vaske interviews Bill Gates and Yasser Arafat, who claims his artistic bent rises out of a desire “to carry on for the sake of the future”. In Tokyo, the director gets drunk with the photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, who tells us “I get an erection when shooting my photographs”.
Architects top the list of professions, authors are as rare as musicians, who are easily beaten by actors. But sadly women make up a tiny minority of his doc: Yoko Ono, Jeanne Moreau, Bjork, Isabella Rossellini, Zara Hadid, Vivienne Westwood, Angelina Jolie and Diane Kruger. Vaske likes his interviewees to be positive and in a good mood – if they are difficult, their answers are cut short.
Towards the end, director Michael Haneke gives the most original answer: “One should not ask a centipede why he walks, because he might stumble”. Haneke goes on, telling the famous story of the composer Gustav Mahler, who stopped seeing the father of analyses, Sigmund Freud, because the latter told the composer, that analyses might reduce his creativity.
The structure (or the lack of it) invites us to be creative in our own ways, as our attention wanders off, reflecting about what to have for supper, or where we parked the car. But what is more disturbing is the huge number of participants, who are not with us any more – so many of them victims of suicide. Surely they deserve a less flippant approach – underlined by the amusing cartoons of Valerie Pirson and Floppy Lazare – and a more serious treatment, using the parameters of a proper documentary. AS
SCREENING AS PART OF VENICE DIRECTORS’ WEEK 2018