25.11.11 — 22.01.12
Opening November 24 at 6 pm
PERFORMANCE: January 12,2012 at 6.30 pm
“La Jetée” (“The Jetty”, 1962) opens with a still image of Orly airport, followed by this sentence, almost as seminal as Chris Marker’s film itself: “This is the story of a man, marked by an image from his childhood”. The exhibition LES MARQUES AVEUGLES takes Chris Marker’s film as a point of departure, and researches the notion of time and memory, and more specifically the relationship between image and mark, traces, trauma, in close connection with photography.
With: Rosa Barba, Pavel Büchler, Hollis Frampton, Louise Hervé et Chloé Maillet, Robert-Jan Lacombe, Chris Marker, Katja Mater, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Margaret Salmon, Hito Steyerl, Gitte Villesen, Akram Zaatari. Screenings: Chantal Akerman, James Benning, Brent Green, Isidore Isou, William E. Jones.
It may be that the act of remembering is indissociable from the composition, framing and mechanism itself of photography. “One photographs things in order to get them out of one’s mind” (Kafka); photography may substitute for memory, become a kind of archive of remembrance. But perhaps the heart of the problem rests a fortiori on the question of framing. Photography crystallizes a fragment of real, even if this «real» can be challenged at any time by the very nature of its photographic support, which is evidence of the failure to reproduce the object. However, this fragment seems no more significant than the elements outside its framework – those which, having concealed themselves from the image, address the imagination. How, then, can this dialectic between present and absent, tangible and immaterial, be envisaged when it is based on a paradox?
As with traumatism – a brutal event inscribed on the unconscious that can only be identified a posteriori as memory, trace – what is not visible in photography is nonetheless present and essential. It is, moreover, just as fundamental to the medium of film, which not only illustrates symbolically this presence/absence in the mechanism of projection and the screen – serving as a mask – but also, in the way it functions, the simulation of movement that ensues from the difference between the images. There is the question of what we see, but, even more, as in an antiportrait, what is not shown, what we perceive. Absence, disappearance, the unconscious, repetition – all of these are deployed as strategies and mechanisms in the works on view in LES MARQUES AVEUGLES.
The works – mainly in film format – presented in LES MARQUES AVEUGLES all develop a more or less direct and close relationship with photography. This link, whether intrinsic or accentuated, naturally adds the question of montage to those of photography and memory. As well as stoppage, repetition seems in this context to be the pivotal element of this mechanism, for it is repetition that, by restoring the possibility of what was, thereby, paradoxically, makes it possible anew (Agamben). Memory thus has the power to re-establish the different potentials of a past.
The project proposes a conceptual and formal journey along these lines of reflection, which are developed in the exhibition, a performance in January, and a series of screenings at the Grütli cinemas, allowing not only the range of the kind of works on show to be broadened, but also their formats and reception.
The show is part of the project "Spirales. Fragments d'une mémoire collective autour de Chris Marker", developed in collaboration with various cultural partners in Geneva.
«GRAVITY WAS EVERYWHERE BACK THEN», 2010
16 mm film and digital photographs transferred to digital video, color, sound, 75’, English. Courtesy the artist and Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York
GRAVITY WAS EVERYWHERE BACK THEN, by Brent Green, tells the true story of Leonard and Mary, of their love, and of Leonard’s desperate attempt to cure his wife of her illness by building a tower on his house. Inspired by the life of Leonard Wood, Brent Green rebuilt his eccentric house in his own garden and recreated his story in the form of a stop-motion animation. With its unusual aesthetic and (inevitable) dislocation of image and sound, the film is an ode to romanticism and do-it-yourself, against a background of more fundamental, spiritual and existential questions.
«13 LAKES», 2004
16 mm film, color, sound, 135’, without dialogue. © James Benning
A demanding film that requires patience of the viewer, 13 LAKES by James Benning depicts thirteen lakes in thirteen ten-minutes sequences. While the shots chosen lack nothing in depth, they restrict the image to a window and, through their duration, force the viewer into observation inspired by nature and its details. This composition, whose structure recurs (the line of the horizon is located roughly in the centre of the image, dividing water and sky almost equally), also highlights certain elements situated outside the shot (sounds of which can be heard) and the presence of Benning and his camera.
16 mm film, color, sound, 110’, without dialogue. © Chantal Akerman With the support of Délégation Wallonie-Bruxelles, Geneva
D’EST takes us on a journey in 16mm from summer to deepest winter, from eastern Germany to Moscow, via Poland, Ukraine and the whole of Eastern Europe. Chantal Akerman filmed everything she was struck by; faces, streets, buses, interiors, queues, doors, meals, men and women, the young and the old as they pass by or stop, seated or standing, days and nights, rain, snow, wind, winter and spring. Chantal Akerman filmed a world that was disappearing, at the time when the East was disintegrating, and with it a society full of broken hopes, waiting only for better times to come. In one continuous movement, the film serves as a memory of these moments.
WILLIAM E. JONES
video, color, sound, 9’30’’, english. Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
«TRAITÉ DE BAVE ET D'ÉTERNITÉ», 1951
16mm film transferred to digital betacam, b/w, without sound, 120’, French (without subtitles). © Isidore Isou
DISCREPANCY, by William E. Jones, is the title of a group of works – here shown synchronously, on a single screen – inspired by “Traité de bave et d’éternité” and by the manifesto for a “discrepant cinema” espoused by Isidore Isou. The soundtrack of “Traité...” radically condensed into no more than 9’30 minutes, is read by a computer generated voice programme. It accompanies various kinds of images, ranging from administrative material (a Drug Enforcement Administration conference or footage from the Vietnam War) to formal elements that are directly media-linked, such as the motif that displays on a mini-DV cassette rewind or that of the iTunes music programme.
TRAITÉ DE BAVE ET D’ÉTERNITÉ is an experimental film based on the principle of what its director, Isidore Isou, calls “discrepant” montage, consisting of the complete separation of sound and image, which are granted autonomy and have no particular connection with each other. The soundtrack, which is made up of Letterist poems (which serve as titles and as interludes) and the story of Daniel, the author of a manifesto for a new kind of cinema (“discrepant” cinema), confronts images assembled for the most part from found material (military films, gymnastic exercises), but also scenes of Isou strolling in Saint-Germain-des-Près or with well-known figures such as Cendrars or Cocteau. These images undergo a process of chiseling, which consists of painting, scratching or scoring the photogram so that the flow of the film is disrupted in a violent attempt by the director to renew the medium of film.
Thematic exhibition curated by Katya García-Antón and Emilie Bujès