Assaf Gruber

Never Come Back (2022)

Museum depots are places where things are kept out of sight, but also protected from all-too-schematic historical judgments. In his new film, Assaf Gruber continues his ongoing investigation of the backstage areas of art institutions to engage with Neue Galerie Graz’s holdings.

In the cage-like space of the repository, we see a naked musician working intensely on a composition. He is inspired by artists whose past belongs to a gray area between modernist aspirations and enthusiasm for Nazism, and whose works combine a taste for the exotic with local patriotism, religious fervor, and eroticism.

Our mysterious protagonist tentatively plays a familiar melody. It’s a song known to many of us, recognizable from dance floors across Europe—but how many of us have ever bothered to listen to its remarkably racist and imperialist lyrics?

Assaf Gruber (1980, Jerusalem, Israel) is a sculptor and filmmaker. His practice centers on the dynamic relationship between individuals and artistic institutions, which he explores in interrelated narrative films, graphical work, and sculpture. He has had solo exhibitions at, for example, the Berlinische Galerie / Museum of Modern Art (2018) and Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2018). His films have been featured at the Marseille International Film Festival (2022) and the Berlin International Film Festival (2016). He is currently a 2022/23 fellow of the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme.

HD video, stereo sound, 16′54″

Written and directed by Assaf Gruber
Actor and musician: Rudi Katholnig  
Line production: Eyal Vexler
Cinematography: Simon Veroneg
Editing: Janina Herhoffer and Assaf Gruber
Coordination with Neue Galerie Graz: Barbara Seyerl, Günther Holler-Schuster, Paul-Bernhard Eipper, Eva Schmartschan, Martin Pelzmann, Sebastian Sprenger, and Doris Psenicnik


Commissioned by steirischer herbst ’22

Produced by steirischer herbst ’22, Assaf Gruber, and Eyal Vexler

With the generous support of Artis and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen