Monday, March 30, 2009

The Ceremony Of Innocence

Helen Levitt, caught fleeting moments of surpassing lyricism, mystery and quiet drama on the streets of her native New York. A kind of imagemaking, that, as a NYT reviewer once wrote, “combine[s] intuition and intellect to forge sophisticated, lyrical compositions from commonplace events. Ms. Levitt captured instances of a cinematic and delightfully guileless form of street choreography that held at its heart, as William Butler Yeats put it, “the ceremony of innocence.” The late 1930s and early ’40s, when Ms. Levitt created an astonishing body of work, was a time when many noted photographers took their camera to the city’s poorer neighborhoods, where people treated their streets as their living rooms.
"There were plenty of kids playing on the street. The streets were crowded with all kinds of things going on, not just children. Everything was going on in the street in the summertime. They didn't have air-conditioning. Everybody was out on the stoops, sitting outside, on chairs."

The masterpieces in Ms. Levitt’s oeuvre are her photographs of children living their zesty, improvised lives. A white girl and a black boy twirl in a dance of their own imagining. Four girls on a sidewalk turning to stare at five floating bubbles become contrapuntal musical notes in a lovely minor key.

In Ms. Levitt’s best-known picture, three properly dressed children prepare to go trick-or-treating on Halloween 1939. Standing on the stoop outside their house, they are in almost metaphorical stages of readiness. The girl on the top step is putting on her mask; a boy near her, his mask in place, takes a graceful step down, while another boy, also masked, lounges on a lower step, coolly surveying the world.

Influenced by her personal contacts with Cartier-Bresson, Evans and James Agee she remained active as a photographer for nearly 70 years.

Helen Levitt, the Grande Dame of street photography, died in her sleep at her home in native New York on Sunday. She was 95.

Some more on Helen Levitt here (NYT), here (wiki) and here

photographs © Estate of Helen Levitt

Friday, March 27, 2009

CIRCUS MINIMUS - of big visions in shrunken markets

Julia Murakami, untitled, 2009, Installation, dimensions variable

Edmund Piper, the man behind two german satellite art fairs (Berliner Kunstsalon/ tease art fair, Cologne) and artist himself opens CIRCUS MINIMUS, a 100 sqm art fair with 43 exhibition booths on a scale of 1:10. Leaving it to the visitors to look at the art market literally at their feet or to catch a glimpse of a state of construction which is usually hidden during exhibitions. Edmund Piper and Walden Kunstausstellungen invite you to meet some of the protagonists of and off Berlin´s art scenery. The lounge of circus minimus takes place in the entrance area of the Kastanienallee 86 with Mike Riemel aka DJ Aussenborder.

André Werner/Daniel Schubert, beflowered, net based project, 2009

Exhibition Opening: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 7pm
Exhibition Dates: April 4th - April 12
Opening Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 4pm - 8pm

photographs, courtesy of A&O gallery/Directors Lounge (booth 9)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dance with Me

Nouvelle Vague “Dance with me” | Bande à part by Jean-Luc Godard.

Delicious Anna Karina is reason enough to post a yt flic :)

Nice finding from poisonous pulchritude

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thorsten Fleisch | 26th March | Berlin | Scala 9pm

Personal show by film and videomaker Thorsten Fleisch

followed by a music performance of his band

On first sight, his films are very abstract and conceptual. Thorsten Fleisch is working directly with materiality, which can be as analogue and direct as skin impressions or crystals growing on the surface of film surface (16mm), or as digitally generic as a reciprocal math formula that creates 4-dimensional forms, inter-cut with 3 dimensional space and finally shown on the 2-dimensional space of video screen. Material in that sense could also be the electric discharges and their traces on photographic paper. Thus following his workflow, it becomes evident, the author is working with a hybrid combination of analogue and digital image processing. However, and as he tells me, the analogue, or better saying material processes are allowing him to also use chance operations and mistakes (like a light flair on film stock) during the working procedures, whereas with code (or programming) a mistake will just result in a script-error, which has to be eliminated scrupulously instead of being able to be integrated in the creative process.

Just by reviewing the titles of his work, such as “Blutrausch” (blood rush), “Videohaut“ (video skin) “Friendly Fire”, “Kosmos” (cosmos) and “Gestalt” we may realize, on the other hand, that something more is going on with and within the artist’s working process. Without any pathos and drama in his making of, Thorsten Fleisch is lingering (or, shall we say loitering?) on existential and creational themes: light through the literally on film grown minerals are producing a pictorial cosmos, or the blood drawn from his own body is creating a (maybe delirious) rush of images. Trying to put it into a nutshell, one could say, body, creation and space are the themes of his work.

By taking an even closer look, one may also discover that the filmmaker is focusing onto a third yet to mention aspect: It is the sensuality in images that triggers his interest both in his own and in the work of others. One may call it old-school, it sometimes takes as much as a couple of years for its execution, and it may be similar to the meticulously composing and editing of the early Stan Brakhage (classic avant-garde filmmaker who combined all kinds of lens and lens-less effects with camera images to visual compositions), but it is that quality of painstakingly controlling the composing and composition towards pictorial expression that creates the quality of his films. What is new and contemporary in his work, Thorsten Fleisch uses any kind of hybrid techniques, thus challenging the meaning of the “expression of material.”

I prefer old-school and handcraftship to cold calculated superficiality, it makes me read the work on different levels while at the same time enjoying its pure sensations. In fact, Thorsten Fleisch’s work has been screened widely in galleries and on festivals including Directors Lounge.

Thorsten Fleisch will be present and available for Q&A after the screening.
Following the screening, the band … will give play …

program starts at 9 pm
doors open 8 pm

See you at the Scala, Friedrich Str. 112 A, 1st floor

Saturday, March 21, 2009

proud flesh • German premiere • Sun 22th • Berlin

hair-e in collaboration with directors lounge present:
proud flesh
a film by jenny graf sheppared and chiara giovando

Sunday, 22 March 2009 / doors: 7pm/ screening: 8pm.

Proud Flesh

Two young filmmakers, Jenny Gräf Sheppard and Chiara Giovando, from Baltimore, Maryland collaborated on “Proud Flesh”, a film shot in the Badlands of South Dakota located in the American West. The film will be presented by Jenny Gräf Sheppard in person, who like her colleague, also is a musician. She will play on Saturday March 21, the night before the screening, at Kuntstraum Richard Sorge Berlin.

“Proud flesh” in medical terms is the wild and excessive flesh that is growing, if, in a deep wound, the skin tissue is so damaged it cannot cover the wound by growing back fast enough. It mostly happens, when skin tensions caused by body movements prevent the tissue from closing and healing. (A reason why doctors nowadays tend to stitch the smallest skin cuts.)

The film starts with a gunshot and the movements of an older woman, who is wounded on her upper leg, struggling to walk through a landscape of the West until she finds a small town. Violence, guns, blood and loneliness, all are ingredients of the common genre Western, however, and without breaking the settings of original, historical backdrops, place and costumes, carefully collected from local sources, the film sets out into a totally different direction than the adaptations of Hollywood Western drama we know of. Neither is it a funny parody of that genre.

Rather, the (mostly) silent human interactions in the movie are staged in more abstract, ritual ways invoking reflections on the symbolism of the characters instead of the psychology of drama. The title “Study of Ritual and Time” ­ and with it the work of Maya Deren, early avant-garde filmmaker ­ may come to mind. Like Deren, by using female main characters and abstracted acting, and unlike Deren, who later travelled to Africa for ritual studies, the filmmakers successfully try to have their own take onto American myths by setting the film into the historical time of their own homeland, and how it can be cinematically revoked, today. “What are the things that we see in our story as American women and how do we want to tell it?” says Chiara (“Into the West” by Brent McCabe,) and Jenny adds: “I’ve always been interested in picturing women in that condition (of the John Ford Western, KWE), and an older woman that position Š picturing older women in the traditional young, male role.”

The wounded, Native American Indian-looking woman in the film, after encountering different situations of near death, ritual and alienation, will finally find her alter ego in an older female home-settler. By doing so, it seems, the two authors try to reach out back into time in order to heal what has been the deepest wound of the proud American move for freedom and individual independency, while “the Frontier” was pushed towards the West.

Another filmmaker may come into mind, a German director, whom the two authors may possibly not know of: Ulrike Ottinger. With abstract acting and ritual, or dream-like scenes of European and Asian tales, she made her mark in German contemporary film history. Like her, the makers of “Proud Flesh” are able to balance the abstract ritual-like acting on a high and light-spirited level, throughout their debut film altogether: It is fun and surprising to watch.

The evening at GDK will be the German premiere and Jenny Graf Sheppard will be present for Q&A after the screening.
(Klaus W. Eisenlohr / Directors Lounge, March 2009)

GDK Galerie der Künste
Potsdamer Straße 98
D-10785 Berlin

Bus: M29 /M48 /M85 bis Potsdamer Brücke

more at richfilm

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Lost Promenade

Humble People Who Expect Nothing (Margate)

There are some things that just don’t go together, though God knows I’ve tried. Custard and horseradish. Eczema and satin. Margate and December…

Nhung Dang and Tamsin Chapman met some years ago, late one night during a pub lock-in. Tamsin admired Nhung’s shiny black umbrella. She keeps meaning to ask Nhung what happened to it. Nhung takes photographs, makes films, writes and sings. Tamsin also writes and sings, but not the other things. They both live in Brighton. When Tamsin was young and on holiday by the sea, she once took off her jelly sandals and flung them into the ocean. She watched them float away and still can’t tell you why. She was very fond of them, but just had an urge. When Nhung was even younger, she went on a Sunday school trip to the seaside and wandered away from the rest of the group. Although she was lost and alone, she didn’t want to be found. She can’t tell you why either. She just had an urge Nhung and Tamsin have come up with a new wheeze to travel around the coast and make some new seaside memories. Nhung will be photographing and Tamsin will be writing. They don’t really know why. They just had an urge

Let’s face it, fascinating as the town’s crumbling edifices are to trippers like us, outside summer time, when the beach’s glorious orange sands come into their own, this town must be a fucking grim place to grow up in. And if the only alternative teenagers are offered, is art built on sneers not passion, then who can blame them if they turn to bird rustling and hawking blow-up sex dolls.

If Tamsin ruled the world, and Margate Council, she’d use the money and site planned for the gallery, to build a gleaming new community centre/venue offering all kinds of subsidised classes and training to everyone. And she’d re-open Margate’s extinct theme park Dreamland, where one of the only two of the UK’s remaining early wooden rollercoasters once lived. And that’s where the Art would be. All the rides would be designed by the world’s most imaginative architects alongside top fairground engineers. Tatlin’s Tower would come to life. Artists would be invited to design regularly changing installations to feature throughout the park –Wisconsin Death Trip ghost trains and waltzers that make you feel like you’re taking acid in Midnight Cowboy. Hell, you could even have Hook-a-Duck stalls that said something vague about consumerism! The food stalls would sell stuff posh people like, like wheatgrass smoothies and exotically garnished offal, as well as the usual theme park fare. Thousands of jobs would be created and Margate would own something unique that reflected all facets of its history, and best of all, would have a place where both the arty and everybody else could enjoy themselves.

Ye Gods, the rain was still pelting down and we were half frozen. We had a look in a fancy dress shop (“take off your gloves if you touch the clothes” barked the proprietor). We hunted for the Shell Grotto, a mysterious cave system tiled in shells, but like most of the renowned tourist attractions we search for in the Lost Promenade, didn’t find it, though we did come across a nice gasometer instead. We checked out a sex shop called Pillow Talk that is said to be haunted. We saw no spooks but we did overhear the following conversation:
Female assistant: “Does she have, like, breasts?”
Male punter, in definite tones: “Oh no”

T.S. Eliot’s words from The Wasteland, ‘On Margate Sands./I can connect/Nothing with nothing./The broken fingernails of dirty hands./My people humble people who expect/Nothing’, seem more apposite, as you look at the defeated-looking faces of the few Saturday shoppers, skirting the boarded-up windows. But maybe we visited on a bad day. Maybe, despite our cynicism, the investment in art will lead to a boom in the town’s fortunes. Maybe the local teenagers will wake up and be hopeful for the future. And maybe the fairy lights will shine again in Margate. Just maybe.

The Lost Promenade digged via Pinhole Photography by Nhung Dang

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Non places • Kudász Gábor Arion

Pension, Gyepü utca / Panzió, Gyepü Street 2005

NON-PLACES, The non-place is part of the space. It’s part of the space, but we don’t live in it. It’s part of space, but it’s not a real place, it’s the transitional part ofthe space between places. It’s a kind of matrix: it’s lifeless, apparently unsubstantial space between the spaces, we live in. It’s a lifeless space, which lives it’s own life, hidden away from the everyday life. It lives the life of the useless objects and spaces. Thrown away cigarette-ends, newspapers and nylon bags, cars forgotten forthe night, resting tools, weed and street-furniture, nooks and corners between houses, stands of posters, mechanics of the streets. These kind of things create the lonely scenes of the non-places. We don’t notice it in the day-time, because it’s a natural part of the built environment. At night it forms the life of the non-places, like a turned out glove. We mustn’t imagine the non-places by the logics of the observer. We can see and observe them, but we can’t understand their inner meaning, until we abandon ourselves to the objective and impersonallyricism of the non-places. Maybe even then we can’t. Because the ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘for me’, ‘from me’, and ‘mine’ doesn’t count here. Everything is beyond us, confidently independent from us.In the nightly world of the non-places, the human body is only an object, a scene, it doesn’t count in it’s sensory being. This is why the people of the non-places, the homeless are so different from the people, who turn the key on their doors every day, and cross the threshold, which divides the world of the non-places and the places. There are two worlds hence and beyond the threshold. Out there anything can happen, because out there we are only objects, like the thrown away cigarette-end, or the nylon bag snatched by the wind at the side of a shopping centre.

Márton Szentpéteri for Camp

Car dealership, Csalogány Street / Autókereskedés, Csalogány utca 2004

Flower picker, Hungary / Virágszedö, Magyarország 2008

a small selection from the folio of Hungarrian photographer Kudász Gábor Arion.
The long exposure works remind me on early works by Martin Zeller. Abandoned beauty.

Playground, Fenyves Street / Játszótér, Fenyves utca 2006

Urns, Farkasrét / Urnák, Farkasrét 2005

Rollerskater, Margit Island / Görkorcsolyázó, Margitsziget 2005

Looking at a map, parks are nice little green squares in the body of the city, areas for future developments like factories, shopping centers and housing projects. During a period of two years I documented changes to uncover an essential view of decaying public areas in and around my hometown, Budapest - before more profitable investments swallow them. I also tried to discover Wilderness on these footholds. Parks are places of joy and revitalization. Parks are designed to evoke an imaginary view of the Garden of Eden, but urbanization is quite about the opposite. When people move into the cities they wish to escape from the forces of Nature by creating controlled and calculable surroundings. In such an enviroment each park is a heart of nostalgia even if their origin is not natural in any way. They were created by people only to simbolize the idea of Nature, but conquered and stripped from its forces. At the same time refugees who proved to be unable to fit in, or are expelled from society start to inhabit the green areas. To put it in a very dubious way: some return to this artificial Paradise, a place of voluntary exile.

Kudász Gábor Arion

Pine Tree, Budapest / Fenyö, Budapest 2007

Kitchen (Tamás), Budapest / Konyha (Tamás), Budapest 2007

Pine Tree, Budapest / Fenyö, Budapest 2007

Summit, Pietros / Csúcs, Pietrosz 2003

Reichstag, Berlin / Reichstag, Berlin 2007

Acreage, Hungary / Vetés, Magyarország 2008

via another something