Edith Jud grapples with the life of eccentric artist Dieter Roth (1930-1992) in her documentary of the same name, which provides an intriguing introduction to his enormous, diverse body of work, although Roth, perhaps inevitably, remains an enigma. Arts broadcasters and educational programmers will lend pic a solid shelf life.
Born in Hanover during the Nazi era (his family fled to Switzerland for some years), Roth was enraptured by Iceland during his first visit as a young man, finding (short-term) marriage and (long-term) artistic inspiration there. But he proved as restless geographically as he was stylistically in a career that started with simple Op Art-type designs and eventually encompassed “impromptu theater,” multimedia collages, bookmaking, poetry, film/video, music, “speedy drawings” (executed in a rush with both hands), and sculptural objects incorporating everything from chocolate to TV monitors. Prone to heavy drinking, flamboyant actions and periods of despondent withdrawal, he greatly impacted the many intimates and collaborators interviewed here. Pic should have included a couple of scholarly voices, however, to establish his oeuvre’s degree of influence (and controversy). Tech aspects are sharp; most interviews are in English.