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Lila and Sam (Stay) with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts - Limited Edition of 10 Photograph

Stefanie Schneider

United States

Photography, Polaroid on Other

Size: 15 W x 15 H x 0 D in

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About The Artwork

Lila and Sam (Stay) with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, 2006, 38x36cm, Edition of 10, Digital C-Print, based on an original Polaroid. Certificate and Signature label. Artist Inventory No. 5067. Not mounted. Stefanie Schneider's art work was used for the Marc Forster movie 'Stay'. featuring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling. Naomi and Ryan were both portraying artists and Stefanie's art was the art both created during the movie. Stefanie's images were also used for Ryan Gosling's memory sequence, for the end titles, for edits in between and as art paintings hanging in several scenes within the movie. Torsten Scheid, “Fotografie, Kunst, Kino. Revisited.”, FilmDienst 3/2006, page 11-13

 Photography Art Cinema. Revisited Stay (USA, 2005) The psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) has saved his girlfriend, the artist Lila (played by Naomi Watts) from committing suicide. Now he is attempting to keep another patient, the art student Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling) from killing himself, but succumbs in that endeavor more and more to a whirlpool of inexplicable events. Any further words would already be interpretation and would reduce the significatory potential of the film. The film is loaded with meaning down to the tiniest details―including the notoriously short pants of the protagonist―or it willingly offers itself as a projection screen for speculations. Line-crossings, subjective camera-views of utterly strange figures, and pan-shots in which space and time shift abruptly all serve to confuse the viewer. One scene switches with no transition into paper photography; other scenes hesitate, repeat themselves. The temporal continuum of the film is caught in loops. Figures merge into each other. Miracles occur: blind people regain their sight, the dead are reawakened to life. If it is the continuity of events which distinguishes dream from reality, then everything which the psychiatrist Sam experiences is a dream.
 It is precisely here, in this intermediate world of imagination and reality, that the film brings paintings into play, and with them the Polaroid photographs of Stefanie Schneider. For even if the paintress Lila drips paint all over herself in the film, in fact her paintings are without exception based on photographic models which―thanks to modern technology―have been printed onto canvas.
Bizarre Dream-Worlds Stefanie Schneider’s vague and evanescent Polaroids work towards a painterly impact. The artist, who resides alternately in Berlin and Los Angeles, exclusively uses out-of-date film material. She takes into account chance occurrence, the scarcely predictable waywardness of damaged emulsions. Her associative Polaroids portray a bizarre, film-like world which further enhances the irrealism of Stay. Independently of each other, but not without reason, both Marc Forster and Stefanie Schneider are repeatedly compared with David Lynch. Stranger than Paradise is the title of Schneider’s new photographic volume which, punctually with the start of the film, has been published by Hatje Cantz. The title borrowed from Jim Jarmusch is no accident: Cinema, not artistic photography, is the world from which the former cutter draws her visual models. And whoever has carefully studied the jazzy photographer of her series 29 Palms, CA can recognize beneath the orange-red wigs the cinematic actress Radha Mitchell (Finding Neverland, High Art).
 A few motifs from this series, which was presented in an extensive edition by the Lumas gallery, are already sold out. The popularity of the artist is rising. But even if Schneider’s gallery makes this claim, her photography does not in fact play a major role in the film Stay. Instead the presence of the Polaroid photographs onscreen is limited to short photographic sequences, to the―admittedly magical―end credits, and to a few paintings on the set. It is precisely here at the periphery, on the symbolical level, however, that the film unfolds its central meaning―for example, when in Lila’s studio photographs of walruses may be seen, a motif which is familiar to the viewer from a previous scene with the art student Henry. In this new context, the images acquire an impact like the visualization of a strange memory. The pictures do not seem to belong to Lila and already anticipate in an allusive manner the peculiar transformation which her paintings undergo at the end of the film.
 The overlapping of the protagonists has a correspondence in the interpenetration of inner and outer worlds: In another scene, in which Henry visits a table-dance bar, there is a photographic sequence. The flood of sharply highlighted, ever-changing images cannot be unambiguously situated, however. On the one hand, it can be read as a projection in the depicted space; and on the other hand, it presents itself as the stream of consciousness of the protagonist, whose blurred scraps of memory it portrays. 

Art as Key The photographs do not function in Stay as props for the plot, but instead they are metaphors for the interpenetration of dream and reality. They are not so much motifs as rather means of representation. On the one hand, they are almost seamlessly integrated into the portrayal, but on the other hand―as works of art―they play a key role in the reception of the film. Whoever considers the cinema to be simply an escapist pleasure must have the impression, with regard to Stay, of being in the wrong film. Stay repudiates all expectations regarding genre and demands a fundamental shift of attitude. One can argue about whether this claim is justified, but the film demands to be viewed as a work of art. Not in the sense of contemplative immersion, but in terms of an active reception. Meaning cannot be derived directly from the film. Meaning is an addition made by the viewer. If Stay has a special message, then it is this: Everyone constructs his or her own film. In fact, in Stay there is a short scene which takes place in the art academy and may be understood as an interpretative instruction. On the basis of a painting, the professor offers a lesson which can be expressed in two simple formulas. First, everything is significant. And second, everything is somehow connected with everything else. The individual elements of the film must be decoded and set into relationship with each other.

 After the Film is Before the Film With director Marc Forster and photographic artist Stefanie Schneider, two coequal partners are at work. The photographer brings her style-generating aesthetic into the cinematic representation. She appears as the author of her images, not as the executor of instructions from the director. This status is also evident in the participation of the artist in the press conference and in the fact that the premiere party took place in Stefanie Schneider’s gallery Lumas. Whoever came early or stayed late could here take an unobstructed look at the pictures and review the film at leisure. With regard to the photographs, one is inclined to see the film a second time. But also in the retrospective photographs after the film, the puzzle-game continues. “This is the way it was,” each photograph seems to say. But were things really that way? In fact, the poetically blurred Polaroid photographs do not provide a documentation, but rather an interpretation of the film from an artistic perspective which is lost in reverie. On the one hand, they make selections from the cinematic plot, and on the other hand, they transcend these happenings. 
 The film photos become autonomous and make reference, not to filmic “facts,” but to other possibilities―to that which might have been, to the inherent fictionality of the film.

Details & Dimensions

Photography:Polaroid on Other

Artist Produced Limited Edition of:10

Size:15 W x 15 H x 0 D in

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Stefanie Schneider lives and works in the High Desert of California. Stefanie Schneider's scintillating situations take place in the American West. Situated on the verge of an elusive super-reality, her photographic sequences provide the ambience for loosely woven story lines and a cast of phantasmic characters. Schneider works with chemical mutations of expired Polaroid film stock. Chemical explosions of color spreading across the surfaces undermine the photograph's commitment to reality and induce her characters into trance-like dream-scapes. Like flickering sequences of old road movies Schneider's images seem to evaporate before conclusions can be made - their ephemeral reality manifesting in subtle gestures and mysterious motives. Schneider's images refuse to succumb to reality, they keep alive the confusions of dream, desire, fact, and fiction. She is currently working on the 29 PALMS, CA. 29 PALMS, CA is a feature film / art piece that explores and chronicles the dreams and fantasies of a group of individuals who live in a trailer community in the Californian desert. A defining feature of the film is the use of still images and the use of voice over. Characters talk to us / themselves / you about their ambitions, memories, hopes, fears and dreams. The film is to be shot using a mix of super 8 and 16mm film stock and Polaroid images. Certain computer-generated effects will also be used to enhance the films surreal mood and to animate its dark humor. Radha Mitchell, Marc Forster, Udo Kier, Max Sharam among others are participating in the project. Stefanie Schneider received her MFA in Communication Design at the Folkwang Schule Essen, Germany. Her work has been shown at the Museum for Photography, Braunschweig, Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin, the Institut für Neue Medien, Frankfurt, the Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, Kunstverein Bielefeld, Museum für Moderne Kunst Passau, Les Rencontres d'Arles.

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