Write Me Emmy!

A Contemporary Interpretation of a Filmscript by Jeanne Mammen

The emigration of close friends around 1937 left Jeanne Mammen with no choice but to overcome painful separations. The motifs of farewell are unmistakable in her art, for example, in the painting Segelschiff [Sailing Ship]. The port of Hamburg, which fascinated the artist, became the site of departure, and not just in her painting but also in a filmscript titled Schreib mir Emmy! [Write Me Emmy!] that was found among her papers. It is about the dream of young Max. He is lying in bed and worrying about Emmy, who has set off from Hamburg on a long sea voyage. As soon as she arrives overseas, she will write Max — or so they agreed. His dream conjures up the adventure of postcards making their way to him by ship and the myriad obstacles they have to overcome. In her brief text full of imagery, Mammen describes nightmarish, grotesque scenes in various locations: on the streets of big cities, on the piers and jetties of harbors, on the ship’s deck, in a greenhouse, in the museum of ethnology. Numerous villains have it in for the postcards. Max has to defeat them. In the end, however, the card slips through the mail slot and lands at the young man’s feet. In her script, Mammen indicated the precise camera shots and the change from positive to negative image; she was clearly familiar with the art film of the 1920s, such as Erik Satie and René Clair’s Entr’act, 1924, or Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin. Sinfonie einer Grossstadt [Berlin: Symphony of a Great City], 1927.

Mammen’s script from 1937 was filmed for the first time on the occasion of a retrospective of her work:

Write Me Emmy! Animated Episodes Based on the Script by Jeanne Mammen
This was performed in the summer semester 2017 by students at the University of the Arts Bremen. The course was directed by Prof. Heike Kati Barath (painting), Ulrike Isenberg (head of the film and video workshop), and Prof. Kilian Schwoon (electroacoustic composition). Students: Livia Brocke, Bohi Choi, Ji Yoon Chung, Armando Ducellari, Grace Esford, Nathalie Gebert, Hairihan, Mayuko Kudo, Luan Lamberty, Stephan Mangelsen, Emre Meydan, Lennard Mülder / Lukas Bode, Elise Müller, Ghaku Okazaki, Ole Prietz, Johanna Rafalski, Yoriko Seto, Antonia Wetzel, Lea Woltermann.
Duration of the film: 25 minutes

In Mammen’s extensive oeuvre of drawings, there are just three sketches related to her filmscript. The artist did not leave behind a storyboard for the script. That fact gave the Berlin-based draftsman Manuel Kirsch the freedom to translate the text into a graphic novel with 78 sequences, which can be seen in the exhibition for the first time – together with Mammen's sketches and her filmscript.

Screening and Talk (in German) with curator Annelie Lütgens and the authors of the film: 20.10.2017, 5–6 pm exhibition visit (museum admission), 6 pm Screening and Talk (free admission).

Use of the script with friendly support of Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V.


Berlinische Galerie

Landesmuseum für Moderne
Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
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