Hannes Schupbach: Cinema Elements
London Tate Modern
Saturday 9 May 2009, at 6pm and 7:30pm
The stunning films of Swiss artist Hannes Schupbach extend the tradition of the meditative and lyrical film diary alternately defined by the work of Gregory Markopoulos, Robert Beavers and Nathaniel Dorsky, filmmakers united by an interest in the power and limits of the single shot and an idea of beauty grounded in a fascination with nature.
An accomplished painter and expert on textile art, Schupbach uses 16mm cinematography to explore cinema’s painterly dimensions, bringing to his films a keen attention to colour and light and their effect on mood and tempo. Schupbach’s meticulously structured silent films, like those of Dorsky, discover a multi-layered world, often using superimpositions and reflections to explore the hidden depths of the places and people evoked within them. We are pleased to welcome Hannes Schupbach for a program of recent and early work that includes his lovely debut film PORTRAIT MARIAGE (2000) as well as paired portraits of his mother and father –SPIN (2001) and VERSO (2008), respectively – and L’ATELIER (2008), a meditation on light and gesture within a gorgeously appointed artist’s studio in Paris.
Schupbach’s work has been shown in the solo exhibition "Stills and Movies" at Kunsthalle Basel from January to March 2009, which is followed by film screenings at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Harvard Film Archive and Tate Modern.
Programme 1 at 6pm
- Spin (Hannes Schupbach, 2001, colour, silent, 12 min)
Turning toward the interior. The concept of SPIN, an inherent turning momentum of electrons, stands for the constancy of time passing and for time itself. The unstoppable process of change is translated into film via the gliding movement of the camera. Bright light and blurring portray the environment of the film’s elderly subject, my mother, as pure atmosphere. Her slight calm gestures in the face of diminishing time and energy convey a personal presence undisturbed by specific goals. She sits and breathes quietly. When walking she travels across space. A tree full of apples turning away evokes regret, as does a sharp light which narrows and dissolves. In the final image my mother seems to taste a bitterness which is difficult to comprehend. I reveal our encounter through brief, selected insights.
- Verso (Hannes Schupbach, 2008, colour, silent, 16 min)
A portrait with my father.
- L’Atelier (Hannes Schupbach, 2007, colour, silent, 16 min)
Sight and thought. The atelier is the place where the artist dwells, the space for his actions and his thoughts. What comes into being here belongs to this place and is shaped in part by its presence. In the passage of days, inner advancement thus corresponds with a piece of the outer world, the real condition that allows the inner digression and enables the artist to return anew to this window, this tree, the house just in front. In the ‘drawing’ on film, described by the gestures of the recorded image, the physical space itself becomes the work. The space evolves in a counterplay to internal movement. Following an insight, a glance falls on one object, then another. The described manner of embracing, in the very making of the work, the sight of objects and the movements that lie resolved within them got me thinking admiringly of the two painters Paul Cézanne and Pierre Bonnard: Cézanne, the master of line and the ‘painterly quantum,’ who depicts space as a reality composed of individual moments, Bonnard, the master of painting that renders an animated space.
- brief intermission -
Programme 2 at 7:30pm
- Portrait Mariage (Hannes Schupbach, 2000, colour, silent, 9 min)
Portrait mariage begins and ends with a textile motif. A pattern of ribbons on a damask tablecloth becomes a broad network extending into the depth of the image. Guests are gathering for the wedding of friends. A picture of relationships shines through the smallest of gestures. Single details and movements are brought together and become part of the coloured and transparent film space. The rite of passage is superimposed upon landscape textures and moments of preparation. The image as a precious border displays visible surfaces while also preserving an interior of bodies and spaces left open to the imagination. The sequences condense spontaneous recordings into metaphoric clusters.
- Toccata (Hannes Schupbach, 2002, 16mm, colour, silent, 28min.)
Il tocco means not only touch; it can also mean a small quantity, a single brushstroke in painting, the striking of a bell or piano keys. The surroundings meet the eye. The direct touch releases an interior impulse. Surfaces open to states of being. Out of this encounter arises the image. From the images, an inner place. In film, as in the mind, are brought together distant spaces and bodies, and the layerings of time. A house, a city in Italy, traffic, and the movements of people are filmed visibly in the present. But the images embrace a living and extended continuity. The light of one day links my eyes to the eyes of someone who lived in the same city two, three, or five hundred years ago. On a church wall, a sculptor has left an arched curtain in stone. Through the rhythm of its inward and outward foldings, the film becomes … still.
- Falten (Hannes Schupbach, 2005, colour, silent, 28 min)
In the form of folds: separate areas of a piece of fabric come together at new points of contact and angles. Individual sections come to the fore while others remain hidden. In motion, the surface of a cloth gleams like the delicate impression of light in film. The French experience includes forms of discovered, singled out or artificially employed nature. And parallel to this, the search for the natural in art. Leaves and flowers appear as if drawn. One’s own hand becomes an object, a figure. How are the leaves arranged on a tree? It is a culture of the aesthetic, of that which refers to perception in its most direct sense.
All films are 16mm, colour and silent.
The screenings will be followed by a book launch for the new publication, "Hannes Schupbach: Cinema Elements", with texts by Adam Szymczyk, Eleonore Frey, Philippe-Alain Michaud, Andrea Picard, and Hannes Schupbach. Published by Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich, 2009.
Made possible by a generous grant from SWISS FILMS / Pro Helvetia, Arts Council of Switzerland. With support from the Embassy of Switzerland.
Tate Modern Starr Auditorium
Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
Nearest Tube: Southwark / London Bridge / Blackfriars
Tickets: £5 / £4 concessions (one ticket for both programmes, includes drinks reception)
Box Office: 020 7887 8888