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The Swap, 2015

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The Swap
1-channel film
Colour, stereo sound
Shot on HD
Aspect ratio 1,85:1
Loop, 15 min 30 sec
Edition 6 + 2 ap
On the surface, The Swap (2015) appears to parody a scene from a classic gangster film of covert dodgy dealings, yet Rosefeldt’s manipulation thrusts it into contemporary reality. Set at a deserted container terminal, two rival mobs pull up in cars, about to perform the familiar briefcase exchange of concealed goods. Clad in leather, guns poised; Rosefeldt plays once again with our stereotypical expectations, luring the viewer into a sense of familiarity until an unpredictable turn challenges our perception and exacerbates seemingly subtle aspects of their behaviour. True to the style of many of his works, Rosefeldt refrains from using language; gestures are exaggerated and the exchange plays out into a dance with the briefcases forever changing hands. The absence of language amplifies these subtleties through the intensification of sounds such as the squeaking of leather and the shuffling of feet on the dampened tarmac. Circular motifs and camera motions echo the endless trade cycle as the viewer becomes paradoxically both lost and engrossed in the repetition. The artist’s choice of dancers, as opposed to actors, allows for a choreography of precision to play out, with the performers halting intermittently before descending once more into a whirlwind routine.

The absurdity of the endless swap can be read as a comment on the increasingly uncontrollable monetary transactions, and the depleting sense of their significance, which have become simultaneously ritualistic yet elusive to those who live in today’s globalised world. The dislocated uniformity of the surrounding shipping containers come to symbolise globalisation – their inexpensive ease having changed the shape of the world’s trade economy. The containers’ looming presence provides the physical backdrop for the gangsters’ infinite trade as their metaphorical imminence descends upon society.

E. Lapper


Exhibitions / Catalogues

Rohkunstbau 25, Zärtlichkeit/Tenderness, Schloss Lieberose, Germany, June–September 2020
The Middleman, the Backpacker, the Foreign Species, and the Time Traveler, TKG Gallery, Taipei, July–September 2019
– Hypervisuality, Wemhöner Collection, Palazzo Dugnani, Milan, April 2019
– The Swap, König London, London, May–June 2018
– Ngorongoro II, Studio Spaces of Lehderstrasse 34, Berlin, April 2018
– Julian Rosefeldt. Manifesto. Works 2005–2017, HOW Art Museum, Shanghai, September–December 2017
– Works 2001 – 2016, Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, March–May 2017 (curated by Helene Nyborg)
Wolfsburg Unlimited, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, April–September 2016 (curated by Ralf Beil; catalogue)


Film Credits

Grayson Millwood
Jeff Wood
Davide Camplani
Virgis Puodziunas
Rafal Dziemidok
Ante Pavic
Frank Fink
Mario Demski

Choreography: Grayson Millwood and Julian Rosefeldt

Line Producer: Wassili Zygouris
Unit Manager: Viktor Jakovleski

Set Decorator / Props Master: Olga Kostka

Assistant Director: Mayra Magalhães

Director of Photography: Christoph Krauss

Steadicam Operator: Matthias Biber
1st AC A-Cam: Frederik Tegethoff
2nd AC A-Cam: Paul Predig

Still Photographer: Barbara Schmidt

Costume Designer: Birgitt Kilian
Assistant Costume Designer: Kerstin Feldmann

Make-Up & Hair Artist: Katharina Thieme

Sound Recordist: David Hilgers
Boom Operator: Gero Renner

Key Grip: Klaus Witt
Grip: Adriano Baldelli
Crane Operator: Jerome Lauer

Picture Vehicle: Buff Connection
Coordinator: Volkhart Buff
Technician: Georg Ebinal

Editor: Carsten Eder
Postproduction Supervisor & Colourist: Robin Jonasch
Sound Design & Re-recording: Thomas Appel

Special Thanks to:
Annegret Laabs, ARRI Rental Berlin, Ute Baron, Studio Babelsberg, Eckhard Wolf, Agentur Filmgesichter, Johanna Ragwitz, Christin Geigemüller, Ufer Studios Berlin, Nefzer Special Effects, Klaus Mielich, Michael Reimann, Theaterkunst Kostümausstattung, Schiwago Film GmbH

Co-Produced by:
Kunstmuseum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen Magdeburg
and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg

Shot at Behala Westhafen, Berlin, January 2015

Written, directed & produced by Julian Rosefeldt

All rights reserved © Julian Rosefeldt


Film & Video Works / The Swap, 2015