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by Katharina Pethke
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How much does a place reveal about its history? How much can forbears and their descendants know about one another? And how much continuity is contained within progress? When Katharina Pethke became a professor at Hamburg’s University of Fine Arts, it set in motion a process of reflection and research. Before, she had studied there, and so too had her mother and grandmother. Each of the women believed they were breaking new ground and yet, consciously or unconsciously, through stance or in protest, continued to carry on a legacy. This essay film examines the three generations caught between social determination and artistic ambition, self-will and motherhood, production and reproduction. The university building and its sole sculpture by a woman artist purchased by urban planner Fritz Schumacher, “Frauenschicksal” (Women’s Fate), become a mirror as well as showcase for enduring ambivalences. A virtuosic and astute work from an established filmmaker, Reproduktion explores questions of feminine and artistic identity through the lens of Pethke’s personal experience, interweaving her family biography with the architectural history of the art and media campus.

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