Phantom Foreign Vienna

a film by Lisl Ponger

Phantom Fremdes Wien
DOCUMENTARY | 1991 | Austria | 27 min | German | Color | 35 mm (Blow Up Super 8)

  • General
  • Cast&Crew
  • Festivals & Prizes
  • Biography
While on a multi-cultural journey round the world in the years 1991 and 1992 during which she never left the city of Vienna , Lisl Ponger meticulously collected Super-8 sequences of celebrations, weddings and dances. The initial concern was with making visible the cultural multiplicity which, from the point of view of their public presence in the city, simply didn’t exist. The return – a good ten years later – calls exactly that act of visualization into question. “What am I really seeing?” asks the commentary, spoken by Ponger herself. But it is not only that which makes it clear how conscious the film is with regard to the problems of how ethnicity is treated. It appears that in every act of ‘making visible’ there is a simultaneous and inevitable tendency to capture the flee(t)ing and diasporic in fixed, stereotypical imagery as well. In the process Ponger stages things on a number of ambiguous levels simultaneously. In the form of diary entries she shows that her encounter with the ‘multi-culti’ Vienna of the early Nineties as profoundly subjective. Right from the beginning every form of objective classification is rejected. At the same time she sets of with a certain daring on a discursive search for appropriate criteria with which to put these carnivalesque and exuberant images in order and simultaneously give the film a structure. Self- reflectively and ironically the commentary and the synchronised edited images run through all kinds of category from external factors (chronology of the takes) via thematic terms (cultural geography) to questions of form (colour, the relationship of light and shadow, film sound) not to mention “self-explanatory categories” ( a Finn dressed as Santa Claus). Finally this self-analysis leads to permanent (self-critical) digression in which every ‘framing’ of the foreigners is continued ad absurdum. At the same time a broad, differentiated spectrum of forms (dance, movements, clothing, masks etc.) spreads through this continuous slipping and sliding of categories, a consistent ‘spectralisation’ that makes the phantom neither more graspable nor more compliant. Christian Höller

Director: Lisl Ponger
Golden Gate New Vision Award
San Francisco International Film Filmfestival 2005

Dissolvenze Film Festival Gradisca Sonderprogramm "Amour Fou Pour Vous" 30.11. - 4.12.2005
San Francisco 2005, 
San Francisco International Film Filmfestival, Golden Gate Awards, 21.4. - 5.5.2005
Paris 2005 - 27th International Film Festival Cinéma du Réel, Spezialprogramm "Détour", 4. - 13.3. 2005
Rotterdam 2004 - 33rd International Film Festival, 21.1. - 1.2.2004
Diagonale 2004 (orig.) - Festival des österreichischen Films, 3. - 7.3.2004 
Marseille 2004 - Festival International du Documentaire, 2. - 7.7.2004 
Melbourne 2004 - 53rd International Film Festival, 21.7. - 8.8.2004 
Neubrandenburg 2004 - dokumentART, 5. - 10.10.2004 
Montréal 2004 - Festival International Nouveau Cinéma Nouveaux Médias, 14. - 24.10.2004 

Lisl Ponger

geb. 1947 in Nürnberg

lebt und arbeitet in Wien
visual artist - photography and film

Studium an der School of Graphic Arts in Wien, Photographie Klasse

Gastprofessur für künstlerische Fotografie an der Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst, 1998/99 und 2001/02


2005 Golden Gate New Vision Award – San Francisco International Filmfestival
2003 Preis für Bildende Kunst Land Niederösterreich
1994 Staatspreis für Filmkunst
1988 Staatspreis für Junge Filmemacher



2004 Galerie Charim, Wien
2004 Dak’art Off Dakar, Senegal
2004 Wien Museum, Karlsplatz 
2001 AK Galerie, Wien
1999 Ethnographisches Mueseum Genf
1998 Central Saint Martins Art School, London 
1996 Museum für Völkerkunde, Wien
1993 Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Wien

Gruppenausstellungen (Auswahl)

2005 Kölnischer Kunstverein
2005 Galerie Charim, Wien
2005 State of the Art, SoS Embassy, Wien
2005 Police, Landesgalerie, Linz
2005 Reisen ins Paradies, Kunsthalle Erfurt
2005 Jetzt ist er bös - Der Tennenbaum-Versuch über die 2.Republik und ihre Juden, Jüdisches Museum Wien
2005 Das Neue II. Atelier Augarten, Wien
2005 Die Regierung, Secession, Wien
2005 Zone 2005, IG Kunst, Wien
2004 Ethnic Marketing, Centre d’art contemporain, Genf
2004 Nomads & Residents, BAK, Utrecht
2004 Black Atlantic, House of Cultures, Berlin
2004 Minority Report, Aarhus, Dänemark
2004 Formate, MNAC, Bukarest 
2004 Shake, OK, Linz
2004 Shake,Villa Arson, Nizza
2004 Trading Places, Pumphouse Gallery, London
2004 Gegenpositionen, Museum für moderne Kunst, Passau
2004 Tour-ism, Tapies Foundation, Barcelona
2004 Salzburger Kunstverein mit Destiny Deacon
2003 The Bourgeois Show, Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, Schweden
2003 Künstlerinnen 1945-2000, Kunsthalle Krems
2002 Organisational Forms, Galerie Skuc, Ljubljana
2002 Routes, Steirischer Herbst, Grazer Kunstverein
2002 Double Bind, ATA Galerie, Sofia 
2002 Documenta XI, Kassel
2001 Du bist die Welt, Künstlerhaus Wien


2004 Phantom Fremdes Wien
1999 Dejá-vu
1996 Passagen
1990 Semiotic ghosts
1988 Train of recollection
1987 Substantial shadows
1986 Sound of space
1985 Container-contained
1984 Tendencies to exist
1983 Film - an exercise in illusion II
1982 Souvenirs
1981 The four corners of the world
1980 Film - an exercise in illusion I
1980 Lichtblitze
1979 Space equals time-far freaking out

Film Shows, Screenings und Festivals (Auswahl)

2005 One World International Film Festival, Prag
2005 48th San Francisco International Film Festival 
2005 Cinéma du Réel, Centre Pompidu, Paris 
2004 Film Festival Uppsala
2004 Film Festival Montréal
2004 Impact Festival, Utrecht
2004 Melbourne International Film Festival
2004 Film Festival Marseille
2004 International Film Festival Rotterdam
2004 Diagonale Graz
2004 Kunstverein München 
2003 Mousonturm Frankfurt
2002 Edith-Ruß-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg
2002 Centre de Cultura Contemporanea, Barcelona
2002 Es Asalah Festival, El Arish, Ägypten
2002 Kunsthalle Wien
2002 Tugboat film, New York
2001 Cineprobe - An evening with Lisl Ponger, MoMA New York
2000 Dokumentarfilmfestival Duisburg
2000 Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival München
1999 Visions du Réel, Nyon
1995 Anthology Filmarchives, New York
1992 Bilbao Film Festival
1988 Exit Art, New York
1987 USA & Canada Tour, New York, San Francisco, L.A.
1986 Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen
1985 Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Wien
1985 The Kitchen, New York
1984 Österreichische Filmtage Wels
1982 Akademie der Bildenden Künste, München
1982 Kunstmuseum Luzern
1981 Forum Stadtpark, Graz
1980 Stampa, Basel
1980 Forum für aktuelle Kunst, Wien
1980 Österreichische Filmtage, Kapfenberg
1979 Filmmuseum Wien

Bibliograpie & CDs

2004 CD ImagiNative, Research as artistic strategy, Lisl Ponger & Tim Sharp, HKW, Berlin
2004 Phantom Foreign Vienna, Wieser Verlag 
2000 Photographs Katalog mit Texten von Christian Kravagna & Tim Sharp 
1995 Xenographische Ansichten, Wieser Verlag
1993 Fremdes Wien (out of print)
1990 Doppleranarchie, Wien 1967-72, Falter Verlag


Courtesy Charim Galerie, Vienna
Sixpack Film, Vienna