On November 4, 2001, the first session of Xcèntric took place, a regular program of screenings dedicated to experimental cinema and artists unpublished in the city of Barcelona. Just 20 years later, we celebrate the anniversary of Xcèntric with a set of screenings, performances and talks that make up a tribute to cinema as a collective experience, to the survival of the photochemical film and to the job of the projectionist, in addition to a necessary reflection on the present and the future of cinema in the digital age.
And, very especially, the program for this 20th birthday is a gesture of complicity to the community of authors and audiences for whom Xcèntric cinema has been, for twenty years, a school of the gaze and of the possible, counterpoint in an age when our relationship with screens is more on the side of obedience than imagination and play.
We will start, on Thursday, November 4, with Le film est dejà commencé?, the first film by lettrist Maurice Lemaître, with which this filmmaker and off-road artist blew up the rituals of the traditional cinematographic device in a mythical session at the beginning of the fifties. A refreshing revulsive, halfway between collective cinema, parody and tout court entertainment, which will feature surprises and cameos.
On Friday, November 5, we will screen Scenes From Under Chilhood, the capital work of the American Stan Brakhage, an immersion in the sensory universe of childhood, which delves into the perceptions of the child, from the fetal beginnings to the experience of the discovery of color or light , in a materialization of his ideas about the art of vision and the "unexplored, although original, powers of cinema."
We will also see Cinema Futures, by Michael Palm, a documentary that asks about the futures of cinema, our audiovisual memory and the material universe that sustains them after the arrival of digital, from the hand of filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Tacita Dean or Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
A cinema of vision is the title of the conference that, on Saturday, November 6, the professor, essayist and film critic Tom Gunning will give a fascinating journey through the cinematographic experiments and optical artifacts of authors and works that have privileged the spectacle and visual experience versus narration, in search of an unprecedented relationship between what was filmed and the audience, based on seduction and amazement, ecstasy and rapture.
Next, we will see Kodak, the elegy to the celluloid of Tacita Dean. Shot at the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône when the company announced its closure, it is a Cartesian and mysterious piece at the same time, with which the British artist documents the sophisticated process of producing photosensitive film throughout the different states of its manufacture, revealing a hypnotic universe of colors against a background of incomprehensible machinery, closed spaces and workers at work.
On Sunday, November 7, the projector and the projectionist will be the protagonists. First, with the recreation of the legendary performance A lecture, by Hollis Frampton, a half literary, half sculptural exercise in which the author displays his vision of the art of making films, which is none other than "devising things to put them in a projector ", a machine that has the ability to delimit and modulate that" rectangle of light "that" is all movies. "
Next, and under the title Projection Instructions, we will project a selection of titles that recreate the tactile universe, as well as the liturgies, of the act of projection itself - the countdown queues, the reels, the soundtrack, the projector as object-, a form of contemporary crafts on the way to extinction that generally eludes the viewer, with works by Guy Sherwin, Morgan Fisher or Barry Gerson, among others.
The session will be closed by the unpublished multi-screen and multi-projector performance Eco Chambers, by Valentina Alvarado Matos and Carlos Vásquez Méndez, a duo of artists who explore the technique and aesthetics of analogue projection devices and photosensitive film. Between the ceremonial and the technical tour de force, and in line with the idea of echo, they will transform the projection space with a game of reverberations, repetitions and synchronization of images and sounds.
A month later, on Sunday December 12, Boris Lehman will put the final touch to the celebration with the screening of Album 1, a warm and somewhat hooligan song to the film fraternity, in which he films and lets himself be filmed by his friends, at home or on the street, in a strange hybrid of a filmed newspaper and an experimental documentary. The Belgian filmmaker will recite texts during a projection to which the composer, singer and pianist Marina Herlop will put music on the piano.
20 years of Xcèntric, the CCCB's cinema
In November 2001, Xcèntric started in a double session dedicated to the underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger. The project responded to the absence of a stable cinema program in the center, and was born from the concerns of José Ángel Alcalde, Andrés Hispano, Andy Davies and Carolina López, wisely cooked by Ángela Martínez, head of audiovisuals at the CCCB. This first team established the foundations of Xcèntric's orientation towards experimental, avant-garde, or simply difficult-to-access cinema. She also gave him a name and decided on his image.
In a time without DVDs or streaming platforms, Xcèntric became the place where many filmmakers and fans could discover Pedro Costa, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Johan van der Keuken, Peter Nestler, Albert and David Maysles or Raymond Depardon, as well as a very important part of the work of Straub-Huillet, Chantal Akerman or Philippe Garrel, among many others.
Since then, it has been adding many other lines of action: meetings with filmmakers and specialists, publications -the last one, the work of Albert Alcoz-, itinerant programs and own productions (From ecstasy to rapture, Cinema against the current), pedagogical activities -theoretical and practices-, in addition to a single space, the file of the same name, which to date has around a thousand titles.
Twenty years later, Xcèntric is a rare pearl, thanks to which the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona can align itself with some of the most relevant cultural institutions in terms of exhibition, dissemination and conservation of cinematographic works that are outside the conventional circuits , a fact that we now underline and celebrate with this special program.
Idea and direction of the Xcèntric 20th anniversary program: Glòria Vilches.
Programmers: Celeste Araújo, Oriol Sánchez, Gonzalo de Lucas, Francisco Algarín Navarro and Carlos Saldaña