Monday 18 September 2023
Catherine Opie, The Modernist, 2017.
"The Modernist presents a dystopic view of Los Angeles, a city that has figured prominently in Opie’s work over the years. The film is in conversation with Chris Marker’s radical 1962 photo-roman, La Jetée, which utilizes still photography to tell a story of longing, time travel, and the terror of nuclear apocalypse. Opie’s film continues this dialogue, employing similar formal and narrative structures to a different end. Focusing on contemporary issues like natural disasters, the breakdown of the American political system, global tragedies, and the Los Angeles housing crisis, the film stars Stosh, a.k.a. Pig Pen, a close friend of Opie’s who has appeared in many of her photographs, as a struggling artist who is obsessed with landmark midcentury modern architecture.
Composed of over 800 black and white still images, the 22 minute film unfolds with swift pacing. Each still captures the subject and his world from multiple angles and vantage points, creating a lyrical cinematic effect. Throughout the film, the protagonist clips newspaper headlines and product advertisements and assembles them together to construct an elaborate collage that echoes his psychological state. The multilayered collage illustrates his frustrations and desires and provides a visible catalyst for the destruction that is to come. Over the course of the film his inability to obtain these desires and dreams drives him to commit acts of arson, methodically setting fire to iconic buildings throughout the city. Yet the film’s oneiric quality forces the viewer to question whether what transpires is an act of destruction or a dream.
Installation views above from ICA Philadelphia, 1977.
Alvaro Urbano, “L’Invitation au voyage”, Travesía Cuatro, Madrid 2019.
Lucia Koch, Casa de Vento, 2019.
Irina Lotarevich, Modern Anxiety, 2023
Monday 14 August 2023
Thursday 17 February 2022
Tuesday 3 August 2021
Wednesday 14 July 2021
Saturday 24 October 2020
Freeload. Dennis Adams
Freeload is an installation created exclusively for the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its construction. Dennis Adams has produced a portable replica of one of the eight mirrored cruciform columns that support the Pavilion. By installing a miniature video camera in each of its ends, the artist has transformed the column into a bidirectional camera designed to record forward and rear shots of a procession through La Mina, a social housing project on the outskirts of Barcelona. The route of the procession was determined by the Plataforma d’Entitats i Veïns de La Mina, a group of community representatives, and the column was carried on the shoulders of two members from the Club de Lluita Olímpica La Mina; the local wrestling club. The procession began at the boundary between the Forum and La Mina and continued through the neighbourhood, terminating at the Rambla Camarón, the symbolic center of the community. Returned to the Pavilion and installed in front of the small pool under the silent watch of Georg Kolbe’s sculpture, the column/camera is supported horizontally on two video monitors that display the recorded footage of its journey.
Adams selected La Mina for its location within Sant Adrià de Besòs, the town where the workers lived that constructed the International Exposition of 1929, including Mies’ original Pavilion. For the artist, both the Pavilion and La Mina are architectural icons that bracket the history of Modernism, framing both its utopian promise and social reality.
Since the late 1970s, Dennis Adams’ works have framed Blindzones, within public space and architecture. In relation to Freeload, Adams explains, “By exempting Mies’ column from its function as a vertical support, I envisioned the release of all that compression as a kind of extension. Turned horizontally, it becomes a sight line free to probe the physical and symbolic limits of the Pavilion.”
A Marvellous Entanglement (2019)
The multiple screen installation and photographic series A Marvellous Entanglement (2019) traverses a collection of Lina Bo Bardi’s most iconic buildings, offering a meditation on the work and legacy of the visionary modernist architect and designer (1914–1992).
‘Linear time is a western invention; time is not linear, it is a marvellous entanglement where, at any moment, points can be chosen and solutions invented, without beginning or end.’ – Lina Bo Bardi
Focusing on Bo Bardi’s public projects instead of private edifices, the piece emphasizes her social, political and cultural views, alongside her philosophical reflections formulated in articles and letters, such as the passage above, which is central to the film.
Having filmed on location in São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), Sesc Pompeia and in the Teatro Oficina, Julien proposes an open-ended reflection on Bo Bardi’s ideas. These three buildings, widely regarded as landmarks of Brazilian modernism, stand as representative of her ground-breaking vision. Travelling further north, the work also encounters Bo Bardi’s buildings in Salvador: the Museum of Modern Art; the Coaty Restaurant and the Gregório de Mattos theatre. Starring Academy Award-nominee Fernanda Montenegro and her daughter, Cannes-laureate actor Fernanda Torres, A Marvellous Entanglement portrays Bo Bardi at different stages of her life, as the actresses interpret excerpts from the architect’s writings.
A central figure of Latin American modernist architecture, Bo Bardi devoted her working life to promoting the social and cultural potential of art, architecture and design. Exploring these themes, A Marvellous Entanglement uses the iconic staircase that she designed for the Museum of Modern Art, Bahia, as the stage upon which Julien orchestrates an original work by choreographer Zebrinha, performed by the Balé Folclórico de Bahia. The Coaty, a modern ruin perched on the Ladeira de Misericórdia in Salvador, accommodates in turn a series of performances by Brazilian art collective Araká. In close collaboration with Julien, the collective performs in situ happenings reflecting upon the significance of Bo Bardi’s seldom-accessed masterpiece for a young contemporary audience. Another leading name of Brazilian arts, the actor, director, playwright and co-founder of São Paulo’s Teatro Oficina, José Celso Martinez Corrêa (AKA Zé Celso) worked in close collaboration with Bo Bardi and is also a key presence in the film, which includes score created by the German-Spanish composer Maria de Alvear.Following the conceptual thread which Julien established in his earlier artistic investigations around portrait-making such as Ten Thousand Waves (2010), or the more recent Lessons of the Hour: Frederick Douglass (2019), Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement looks at historical reparation through visual poetry, moved by the breadth and power of Bo Bardi’s work, and a profound belief that her legacy has yet to be fully acknowledged.