Portrait of the Mountain

Film essay, in the making since 2017

Portrait of the Mountain is an expansive story of how still and moving images have changed in the decades following WWII and how they have changed us along with them, altering how we navigate the increasingly unsteady world.

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Based on the research conducted between 2015-2017 in Maastricht, Portrait of the Mountain is a final part of a diverse yet thematically interrelated body of work: The Regime of the Visible, Sedimentation of Memory, and Performing the Archive. 

The hilly slopes in the South of the Netherlands are known for their beauty: vineyards, forests, rivers attract tourists from all over the country. The area is part of Caestert plateau which is known for its unique preindustrial heritage. The cavernous hills were continuously mined starting from Neolithic times for flint nodules and, later, limestone. The century-long extraction created a complex network of underground tunnels around Maastricht that are popularly called “the caves” while hills are often referred to as "the mountains." Portrait of the Mountain uses film to sculpt different faces of this landscape in time.

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Portrait of the Mountain is an essay film that uses still and moving images, and animation, produced against the highly controlled and regulated environment of the former NATO Headquarters for War Operations. The headquarters operated between 1962 until 1992 in Maastricht. The cavernous hill Cannerberg was previously set up by Nazi Germany as a facility and assembly line for V-1 rockets. The Nato headquarters for war operation was transformed it into a self-sustained shelter against the nuclear and biological hazard. Its interior included: offices, crypto centre, bars, restaurant, golf terrain, fire and first aid brigade, rooms with oil tanks and electricity generators, and a command centre from where West European sky was monitored. The film essay builds on the multiple knotted storylines about the location. The camera illuminates fragments of omitted history relating to the Nazi occupation, NATO, Cold War, and the inaugural event in the creation of the European Union - Maastricht Treaty. It unfolds the narrative of geopolitics and labour, simultaneously tracing the genealogy of power as it has been inscribed in the dark corridors of the former limestone quarry.

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