Dear Cinema: The Old Images, Another Words
Images remain as an ambiguous form beneath one's consciousness and unconsciousness or in the gap between unwritten histories, as if the taste or fragrance of a cup of tea restores forgotten images. Searching for the origin of image remaining in memories and that of images of the contemporary world we see is perhaps an unending journey and an attempt as rash as investigating a black hole to reach the origin of the universe. Pointing to the contradiction of moments outside of time that Proust asserted, Maurice Blanchot talked of the “unique ecstasy of time”: time is erased by time itself through simultaneity—“the then of the past and the here of the present” coincide. Likewise, the impossible effort to search for the origin of images is related to the artists' primary desire to leap to the abstract space through the vanishing of time. The long-established world of images from the remote past beyond human history is embodied in physical form by the labor of artists who work within and outside of time.
Dear Cinema: The Old Images, Another Words introduces works where the images of the world carry unique resonances, whether mirrored within an individual artist or in the words of an artist who intervenes in a landscape of the outside world. This program brings together young artists who are showing in Korea for the first time, problematic artists who fight their way through various difficulties, and masters asking fundamental questions through images.
During her stay in California, the Spanish artist Laida Lertxundi in her 16mm films captured very trivial behaviors and the grandness of uncaring nature, set in a motel room, an old house, and vast fields under the sky. These pieces lightly allude to many sensitive issues including political discourse and feminism, along with musical resonance. In particular, works such as Footnotes to a House of Love, in which the landscape of the American desert and moments of simple performances intersect, and 025 Sunset Red, evoke the free spirit of hippies in the 1960s.
Based in London, Beatrice Gibson unfolds familiar but strange stories which feature the superposition of literary texts, the metaphorical transformation of genre films such as thrillers, and improvised performances. She only used elements of the atmosphere of crime thrillers to construct a narrative in The Tiger's Mind, and dealt with the weight of complex psychology in feminism, pregnancy, and multiple relationships by presenting her personal acquaintances in Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs, a new piece which adapted a script by Gertrude Stein.
Duncan Campbell, the Irish artist has been shown in the MMCA Film and Video program 'Reconstruction of Story'. His work The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy (2016) is a mock documentary of a rural community undergoing social change in 1960-1970s Ireland from an anthropologist's point of view. In his recent work Le livre d'image, Jean-Luc Godard reflects on the whole history of cinema through scenes from films which he thinks significant including his own. What is cinema? This question is reframed by the master who refuses filmic convention so as to create novel cinematic forms, and is revitalized through images from the films he loves.
Death of Narcissus, the new work by Eungsu Kim will premiere in this screening program. His other recent documentaries, Oh, Love and The Real, address the Sewal Ferry disaster. Based in Chungju, Korea, consistently making low-budget documentaries, Kim completed an affordable, experimental private video essay in the landscape of the woods by a river. This film with continuous narration invites us to revisit the issues around gender hegemony which the MeToo movement brought up, along with the artist's anxiety affected by the climate in society, and the description of male characters appearing in films that he remembers.
Dalla Nube Alla Resistenza (1978) and Trop tôt/Trop tard (1980/81) by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, both reawaken the spirit of resistance against fascism and in peasant struggles but in different ways. In Trop tôt/Trop tard a text by the Egyptian historian Mahmoud Hussein is recited, and the scene of workers leaving a factory in Egypt became one of the twelve videos of Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades by Harun Farocki. Dalla Nube Alla Resistenza is composed of philosophical dialogues between a hunter and mythical figures regarding the reincarnation of humans who had been cursed by gods as well as conversations from two works Dialogues with Leucò and The Moon and the Bonfires by Italian writer Cesare Pavese. The characters in this film all remain as purely conveyers of language not being dominated by dramatic sentiment. The film is like a sublime voice delivering a message to the present which is oppressed by the power of totalitarianism and capitalism.
Also, six important short documentaries by the German documentary filmmakers Peter and Zsóka Nestler who Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub admired will be presented as part of a special program in partnership with Experimental Film and Video Festival (EXiS). Peter Nestler undertook his work in a ceaseless effort to get close to the true nature of objective reality, entirely excluding the artist's subjective intervention.
Gunvor Nelson, the Swedish master of experimental film, has produced a number of films which engage with changes and movements in objects and landscapes as well as with the speed of light, through poetic rhythms and humor. Using collage techniques in a blend of animation and live-action, she renders intense movements of fragmentary images, describes transcendent nature and the mystery of transitory moments, and reveals the moments of her private life in honest and poetic metaphors, grounded in her love for family. Fifteen works by Gunvor Nelson are presented including On the Fence produced in 2017.
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz is a Puerto Rican artist who consistently focuses on making works that are like archeological reports on post-colonial discourses and the political condition of Puerto Rico as a self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States. This screening program shows twelve works by her including: Post Military Cinema which captures sunlight and the wind entering into the cinema of an abandoned U.S. naval base in the forest of Ceiba, Puerto Rico; Eyes for My Enemies which is an observation on the process of restoring the forest around a former U.S. naval base; and Prisoner's Cinema reflecting on the complicated political reality of Puerto Rico from the beginning of U.S. military government in 1898 to the present.
Currently active in France, Jeunghae Yim satirically represents popular trends promoted by AD videos or SNS in her short video pieces. Her recent poetic documentary Entre chien et loup uncovers the world of images that visually impaired people sense. How her practice will develop is unclear but I believe that her frankness and humour will be useful in seeking her own way to express herself.
MMCA Film and Video hopes that Dear Cinema encompassing works by young artists along with masters will provide an opportunity to discover remarkable artists who have not been properly introduced in this country as well as to explore uncompromising filmmakers who delve into the essence of cinema.