»If you want to be immortal, find someone to write a story about you« Trading Stories – A Cargo Named Desire advises us. It is the only way to achieve permanence in a world of constant change.
Jennifer Mattes’ work tells a story about stories that travel through the world like containers on a freight ship. The artist herself boards a cargo ship to recreate a voyage undertaken by her great grandfather, who travelled from Hamburg to Qingdao – a passage which has since become an important trade route. The narrator’s soft voice leads us from scene to scene, with intermezzi featuring various different people. She allows us share in her reflections on romantic love, truth, time, death, memory and forgetting. The viewer sees a couple as a message in a bottle – a love letter – floats towards them; or a sailor who carries out his work – painting the anchor’s chain – to the sound of radio chatter from countless ships. In this way, private stories are woven together and placed in a globalized framework. In this context, it soon becomes apparent that the search for any one story is equally a search for many interconnected stories.
By combining documentary footage of her voyage, found footage from the internet and various sound and text fragments, Mattes takes the viewer on a journey through a vast world that is both private and profoundly public. Her hodgepodge assembly of video fragments tells a multifaceted story about stories themselves, allowing us to enter into the narrative and lose ourselves: »Imagine you were a story. What kind of story would you be?« (Deborah Lorenzo)