My Life Is a Gunshot
”My life is a gunshot”, when said by the Swiss artist Joke Lanz, can mean at least two things, the first being that his life was determined, for better or for worse, by the gunshot with which his father killed himself. Marcel Derek Ramsay dedicates a large part of his film to this traumatic episode in the life of the young Lanz, whose consequences still weigh on his life today, mostly in terms of consciousness of the suffering and of the need for freedom and liberation from the societal conformism. This theme, which is connected partly to his relationship to Switzerland, recurs obsessively in My Life Is a Gunshot, but not as frequently as the image of Lanz’s face, which appears to be Ramsey’s own obsession. These two obsessions actually work as ballast to balance an explosive, high-paced and high-spirited filmic journey into the amazing world of an artist who is able to transform anything into an occasion of expression and creation.
Here is the second meaning of “my life is a gunshot”; referring to the volcanic mode of creation of Joke Lanz, for whom the matter of sound – music and noise confounded – is in perfect continuity with the matter of humanity and the matter of the world. Lanz’s fundamental intuition is that the shout of suffering can be seen as, heard as or transformed into the cry of a newborn baby – and that is why his life-long project is named “Sudden Infant”. The destructive power of a gunshot therefore becomes more than just liberation from a hostile world; it is a regeneration that gives a narrative form to the seemingly shapeless shout.
In this, Ramsay’s formal choices for the film are brilliantly coherent with Lanz’s art and philosophy: thanks also to Peter Bräker’s impressive sound editing, Ramsay was able to manage a huge amount of material, blending an explosive and fast rhythm with a narrative structure that alternates the emotive moments with the informative ones. When form matches content in cinema, a stronger experience is guaranteed –experienced here with the discovery of a highly original sound artist or, better, sounding artist.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: February 06, 2019