In 2014 the program Avant-Noir was first organised on the occasion of the Artist’s Film Biennial at Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. It was conceived to celebrate the work of artists active in this new century who are struggling for a new value and a new perspective placed on the black image in film and video art. These essential films and videos and the artists who created them are in some cases woefully underseen, in other cases known but not celebrated nearly enough.
Norio Imai: Film and Video Works Time Severed, Jointed and Stretched
As the closing event of the exhibition A Feverish Era in Japanese Art. Expressionism in the 1950's and 1960's, this screening / talk focuses on a pioneering voice that led the next generation of Japanese contemporary art. As Gutai’s youngest member, Norio Imai’s white relief sculptures might be familiar, but his works involving film, slides and video have received very little attention.
“Having reached an age at which you think about getting your bags ready for the next world, I’m about to burn my life, to throw away all I’ve collected and accumulated for over half a century. Books, clothes, films, everything must, will disappear, in ashes and smoke. Funeral (on the art of dying) presents itself as the ‘last’ episode of my auto-cine-biographic work Babel, which covers over thirty years of my life. Funeral will bring this narration of life to its end. It can be considered as my last movie, as a will.” (Boris Lehman)
Hierarchy of Particles is a program of films and videos that explore particles and fragments of image and sound through a variety of formats – from image-processing of video signals, to high-contrast and hand-processed or manipulated celluloid film stock, and re-purposing film footage and warbled audio fragments.
Ernie Gehr (1941) is a key figure in American avant-garde cinema and the structural film movement, and he is undoubtedly one of the most influential and innovative artists of his generation. The film Serene Velocity, which he made in 1970 in the cellar corridors of Binghamton university, is a masterly synthesis of the conceptual and aesthetical preoccupations which even in his earliest films (Reverberation, 1969) tend to subvert a purely illusionist cinema by affirming the primacy of its elementary constituents. For over fifty years since then, Gehr has been deploying a genealogy of the photographic in cinema, no matter whether it is made on celluloid or digitally, and no matter whether it is screened in a theatre or as (part of) an installation. Gehr’s body of work therefore constitutes a homogeneous and consistent entity in which the artist, nourished by his observations of quotidian American urban landscapes (Winter Morning, 2013), his reflection on the obsessive nature of the photographic or cinematographic image, and the temporary nature of human life (A Commuter’s Life (What a Life!), 2014), purposefully articulates recurrent themes.
Ernie Gehr will personally attend the presentation of this selection from his films which also includes some unreleased titles. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Ernie Gehr and Jonathan Pouthier of the Paris Centre Pompidou.
A legendary American artist, filmmaker and actor described by Andy Warhol as the only person he would ever copy and by John Waters as “the only true underground filmmaker”.
The films of Jack Smith (USA, 1932-1989), along with the artist’s complete body of work - including photographs, collages, drawings, slide shows, costumes, sculptures and props that were used in his performances - represent one of the most seminal and important oeuvres in twentieth century art. Born in Ohio and arriving in New York in 1953, Jack Smith transformed the detritus of post-war downtown New York into filmic tableaux vivants of exotic glamour and polysexual fantasy. Rejecting the conservative political climate of an America at war with Vietnam, the trends of Abstract Expressionism, the repression of queer expression and the abstention of the pornographic in high art, Jack Smith was one of the first proponents of the aesthetics which came to be known as 'camp' and 'trash', using no-budget means of production to create a visual cosmos heavily influenced by Hollywood kitsch and orientalism. An actor for Andy Warhol, Ken Jacobs and Robert Wilson, Smith sought in his own filmmaking to create an aesthetic of delirium. Smith’s influence is obvious in the work of artists such as Cindy Sherman, Mike Kelley, Matthew Barney, Nan Goldin, John Waters, Derek Jarman, Guy Maddin and Ryan Trecartin.
Screening & Talk - In the presence of VALIE EXPORT
VALIE EXPORT (Austria, 1940) is a highly influential figure in the field of conceptual media art, performance and film. Her impressive body of work encompasses all media, including film, video installation, body performance, expanded cinema, photography and sculpture. From the invention of her artist name in 1967, she started using her own body as one of the most important tools for her practice. VALIE EXPORT considers her art as a political tool in order to react against society and the establishment. Many of her performances have achieved an iconical status. Due to their highly provocative nature, some of them have raised violent polemics.
18h - Els Van Riel / Chiyoko Szlavnics / Johan Bossers - Gradual Speed (Els Van Riel, 2013, 16mm, b&w, 50') With links to the tradition of structural film making, the work by the Brussels based film-and videomaker, Els Van Riel, explores the fundamental elements for cinema: time, light and the matter of analogue cinema itself. “Gradual Speed is a work on and for black and white 16mm-film seen as matter, and at the same time as a metaphor for everything we cannot grasp”. (Els van Riel)
- Concert: Constellations I-III for Piano & Sinewaves (Chiyoko Szlavnics, 2011, 15’). Piano. Johan Bossers. The soundtrack for Gradual Speed was created in collaboration with Chiyoko Szlavnics (CAN/DE). She studied music at the University of Toronto, and privately with the composer James Tenney. Her approach relies on drawings as the basis for her compositions and on observations of the interactions between electric and sine waves and the sounds produced by instruments. Her Constellations will be interpreted by the pianist Johan Bossers (BE), co-founder of Champ d’Action, and active in the ensembles Ictus, QO-2, Spectra and I Fiamminghi.
20h - Bruce McClure - A Leak in the Thatch (Bruce McClure, 2014) Projector performance for two modified projectors and two bi-packed film loops The performances of Bruce McClure (US) are immersive physical experiences with obvious hallucinatory characteristics. Stretched in time they develop an intensity on the level of light and sound, texture and color, blur and flicker while exploring the interference of the images, though McClure (trained as architect) never loses the spectator and the surrounding space out of sight. The sound of the projectors can take on monstrous proportions, deformed by pedals, often used for electrical guitars…. As if the spectator and the cinematic space are sucked into the epicenter of the cinematographic apparatus itself, in the heart of the machine, in a burst of light and the sputtering of the engine. “To me, it’s an experience of nature like a rainy day or being overwhelmed by vertigo in an assault of snow blindness.”