Transient Witness: a filmic research between collecting, politics and art institutions

Artist's talk by Assaf Gruber
Introduction by Gerhard Wolf, Director, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Two real events form the background to Transient Witness, by Assaf Gruber (The Right, Lo Schermo dell’Arte 2016): the donation of the extraordinary archive of the 20th century avant-garde by Egidio Marzona to the State Museums of Dresden (SKD) , and the stealing of the so-called Treasury of Saxony on the night of November 25, 2019 in Grüne Gewölbe, the Green Vault. This is one of the institutions that make up the Dresden museum complex, which at the end of the 18th century was the private cabinet and symbolic place of the unbridled collecting of its founder, Frederick Augustus (called The Great),  also one of the first sovereigns who made his private collections accessible to the public, effectively giving life to one of the first modern museum models in Europe.

Freely inspired by these facts, and by the children's book About Two Squares by El Lissitzky, the film reflects on the historic relationships in Europe that unite the act of collecting and stealing, the public sphere and private, ethics and aesthetics, power and its representation. Transient Witness revolves around three main characters: Marzona's personal assistant; the art handler who has the task of transferring the collection to Dresden; and Präsens (German for present), the collector's dog, whose gaze is entrusted, thanks to first-person shooting, with the task of making us discreet spectators of the facts as they unfold. The circular and cumulative structure of the film is also underlined by the Italian popular song Alla Fiera dell’Est by Angelo Branduardi, whose text is inspired by Chad Gadya, the Jewish Passover song in which characters symbolize key figures in the history of the people of Israel.

The talk will be preceded by the Italian premiere of the film Transient Witness by Assaf Gruber at Cinema La Compagnia, Saturday 19 November 2022, 17:30, as part of the 15th edition of "Lo schermo dell’arte - Festival di cinema e arte contemporanea".


Film Screening

Saturday 19 November 2022, 17:30 | Cinema La Compagnia, Florence

Transient Witness
di Assaf Gruber
Germania, 2021, 47’
vo tedesco, italiano; st: inglese, italiano

Photography: Frank Meyer; Montaggio: Assaf Gruber,  Dane Komljen; Actors: Anne Ratte-Polle, Michele Andrei, Sabine Wackernagel; Music: Yennu Ariendra, J. Mo'ong Santosa Pribadi; Producers: Caroline Kirberg & Assaf Gruber; Co-produced by: Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Krieg (Hasselt, Belgium), Fundación Botín (Santander, Spain), CCA Tel Aviv, Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

A reduced rate is available for those with a KHI tessera: afternoon screenings: 5 euro (reduced from 6); evening screenings from 9.00pm: 5 euro (reduced from 6); day ticket: 8 euro (reduced from 10); subscription 25 euro (reduced from 35). KHI fellows who do not have a tessera can also access reduced tickets by stating that they are researchers at the Institute when they purchase their tickets. For further information:

#museologia #collezionismo #EgidioMarzona #ElLissitzky #Dresda #AssafGruber 

Assaf Gruber (b. Jerusalem, 1980) is a sculptor and filmmaker living and working in Berlin. The dynamic relationship between individuals and institutions is at the center of his practice, which aims to explore both how the political orientation of legacy establishments impact the lives of individuals and how these organizations choose to represent and communicate facts and their attendant artifacts. The absurd biographies of the protagonists in his projects simultaneously reveal and obscure the reasons and motives that lead people to obey or rebel against their inner world or the society in which they live. His photography, sculpture, and installations place the materiality of objects in relation to narrative dimensions, which in turn create fictional spaces where movement and non-movement function as a medium. Gruber’s solo exhibitions include the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2018), Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2018), and the Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź (2015). His films have been featured in festivals including FID Marseille (2019), the Berlinale Film Festival (2016), and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2016). He studied at Cooper Union in New York and is a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and of the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK) in Ghent. Gruber is currently one of the fellows of the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme 2022/23 (gkfd).

Selected filmography: 2022 Rude Witness; 2021 Transient Witness; 2019 Daphne and Thomas; 2015 The Right; 2014 Citizen in the Making; 2015 The Guardroom; 2014 The Anonymity of the Night, Part I 



21 novembre 2022, ore 15:30

This event will take place in a hybrid format.

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze, Italia

To participate in person please email to reserve a seat.  

To participate online, please register in advance via Zoom:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 




Questo evento viene documentato fotograficamente e/o attraverso riprese video. Qualora non dovesse essere d’accordo con l’utilizzo di immagini in cui potrebbe essere riconoscibile,  da parte del Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz a scopo di documentazione degli eventi e di pubbliche relazioni (p.e. social media) la preghiamo gentilmente di comunicarcelo.


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