Lines Fiction: Your stories have a biographical background, you show how the division of Germany reflects in the personal history of yourself and your family. Your sister’s tragic death was another break in the situation of radical change 25 years ago.
Juliane Ebner: I was lucky to see the decline of the suppressing social order that was strong when I was born. And to this day this downfall for me is a great and formative experience that doesn’t lose its power and attraction. The specific of our generation is that we lived through very radical changes in a comparatively comfortable way, and that we experienced being in the focus of world history with our lives, knowing that history can be very destructive when it comes to situations of radical change.
This is what my trilogy “Klack” is about; recent german history. I’m telling about my childhood and youth, and it’s inseparable from the history of our nation. “Knallerbsenbusch” my animation from 2012 is about my childhood in the dictatorship, “Alles Offen” is about the phase before the fall of the Berlin wall, the moment that induced this fall.
My sister Käthe herself was a young artist in the beginning of the nineties. And her death caused by a badly secured burden of a building crane on one of the semi-criminal construction sites that existed in Friedrichstraße after the German Reunification became an image that nobody could make up. It’s an image for the radical change, the process our world went through up to the point of disappearance. “In der Mitte ein Loch” is the name of the animation from 2014 that portrays the Friedrichstraße, the center of Berlin, and with it the center of Germany, in its change and in its continuance as a dead and sterile place. My trilogy “Klack” tells about the life before, during, and after the fall of the wall that separated our countries, and naturally we are the ones that have to tell this story.
Lines Fiction: In your animations the storyline and the imagery connect in very special ways, the images expose traces of the text in a discrete manner. How do you develop your themes?
Juliane Ebner: well, I really don’t develop my animations for their own sake, that is, in the beginning I don’t care about the medium in itself. For me the subject, the theme that bothers me comes first, and therefore animation, including images and sound, is my medium of choice in developing a story. When I start, there is only a moment, an idea, not yet really a story.
I start with ink drawings and a text that evolves slowly. Story and drawings emerge together, and every drawing belongs to the project; even if some drawings don’t find their way into the final animation, they all belong to the subject. At some point I get the impression that everything is prepared, the text roughly is ready, and I start to animate the drawings. I transfer my ink drawings on to transparencies that I overlay and paint over, and in this process I take photographs. I don’t use a black box, I like the reflections and different lighting conditions, and I prefer the look-and-feel of old super 8 films. I do not cut my films, and try to stay close to an off-screen painting process. So I’m planning my movie but it develops while working on the animation. Reading the text aloud helps me getting a feeling for the duration, and the soundtrack is finally completed with overlays and cuts.
Lines Fiction: From your trilogy “Klack” we show “Knallerbsenbusch” and “In der Mitte ein Loch” together with an episode from your project “Kleine Dinger”. This long-term project is a series of animations that you plan for the future.
Juliane Ebner: yes, in the beginning of this year, I finished my trilogy with “In der Mitte ein Loch” about change and my sister’s death, and at times it was not so easy for me to work on the subject. Fortunately I got funding for the film, which made me work in a disciplined way. Afterwards longing for a counterpoint as regards content, I immediately started the next project. With “Kleine Dinger” I started a tale about the every day life of a not more so young creative person, living in a big city but having origin in the country side. The art world, motherhood, day jobs, relationships, and the balancing act between passed on values and newly acquired ideas are the base for episodes that show how we try to get along, finding some happiness. Again it’s about a social image, about my own experiences, about things I encounter. On the other hand, in these episodes the ego always shows up as a literary self, of course. A new feature with “Kleine Dinger” is the use of Super 8 material from the seventies, which is great fun for me. So one episode of “Kleine Dinger” can be viewed on Lines Fiction, it is one of 30 episodes to come. It will be a serial of animations and I’m very much looking forward to it.