Lyrically poignant yet contained, Like rats leaving a sinking ship is an intimate piece that combines personal subjectivity with the clinical objectivity of medical reports, challenging the very notions of these categories. The film is partly based on the author’s psychiatric assessments diagnosing her with ‘Gender Identity Disorder’, in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases. Along with the discourse of the legally mandatory documents for transgender people are her own personal writings that reflect upon the nature of memory – the present interpretation of the past – and question the possibility of any coherent biographic or filmic narrative. As evocative images inconspicuously blend with found family footage, a multilayered reality emerges in which the distinction between what is true or false becomes unimportant and obsolete. Although in line with topics such as general assumptions of gender, or ‘popular knowledge’ of transgender people, Like rats leaving a sinking ship is, in fact, a deep reflection on the relation of ‘abnormal individuals’ to authority apparatuses such as state, law and psychiatry.
*Vika Kirchenbauer is an artist and writer currently working and residing in Berlin. In her work she explores opacity in relation to representation of the ʻotheredʼ through ostensibly contradictory methods like exaggerated explicitness, oversharing and perversions of participatory culture.
She examines the troublesome nature of “looking” and “being looked at” in larger contexts including labour within post-fordism and the experience economy, modern drone warfare and its insistence on unilateral staring, the power relationships of psychiatry, performer/spectator relations, participatory culture, contemporary art display and queer representational politics as well as the everyday life experience of ambiguously gendered individuals.
Her work has been exhibited in a wide range of contexts in about forty countries and has won prizes at festivals in the United States, South Korea, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Norway, Slovakia, Poland, Bosnia and Italy.