- With an introduction by Steven Jacobs
Ter gelegenheid van het verschijnen van het boek Screening Statues: Sculpture and Cinema (2017) stelt co-auteur Steven Jacobs enkele films voor waarin beeldhouwkunst centraal staat. In films van toonaangevende kunstenaars en regisseurs als Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Henri Alekan, Alain Resnais en Chris Marker worden de statische en materiële vormen van de sculptuur wonderbaarlijk getransformeerd tot kinetische en immateriële beelden. Hun werk illustreert dat het medium film bijzonder geschikt is voor de optische en haptische exploratie van sculpturen.
On the occasion of the publication of Screening Statues: Sculpture and Cinema (2017), co-author Steven Jacobs will be presenting films on sculpture. In these films by prominent artists and filmmakers such as Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Henri Alekan, Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, the static and material forms of the scultpure are magically transformed into kinetic and immaterial images. Their work illustrates how well the cinema is able to explore sculptures optically and haptically.
“In 1927, four years after he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus school in Weimar Germany, Moholy-Nagy published Malerei, Fotografie, Film [Painting, Photography, Film]. In this influential book – part of a series he coedited with Walter Gropius, director of the Bauhaus – he asserted that photography and cinema had heralded a “culture of light” that had overtaken the most innovative aspects of painting. Moholy-Nagy extolled photography – and film, by extension – as the quintessential medium of the future. His interest in the movement of objects and light through space led him to construct Light Prop for an Electric Stage (Light–Space Modulator). This object is the subject of Ein Lichtspiel: schwarz weiss grau [A Lightplay: Black White Gray], Moholy-Nagy’s only abstract film, which synthesizes his attempts to visualize the act of seeing from multiple viewpoints.”1
“In summer 1947, Dreyer wrote to the head of Dansk Kulturfilm, Ib Koch-Olsen, to suggest a short film about the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1848). Dreyer’s rationale was to film Thorvaldsen’s most popular and most ‘accessible’ works, so that the man in the street would be better able to appreciate what was special and unique about Thorvaldsen’s art. Incidentally, this motivation corresponds to André Bazin’s argument for the importance of the art film: ‘to bring the work of art within the range of everyday seeing so that a man needs no more than a pair of eyes for the task’. The arguments raised against Dreyer’s proposal amongst the committee that evaluated the project, and, later, in the popular press once the film was made, are also echoed in Bazin’s discussion: that film as a medium ‘does violence to’ the plastic arts, and that the ‘artificial and mechanical dramatization’ that film can impose on a work of art might ‘give us an anecdote’ and not a painting or sculpture. On the other hand, the strange fusion of the two art forms can provide the work of art ‘with a new form’ of existence, making an ‘aesthetic symbiosis of screen and painting’. Ultimately, Bazin makes the point that the aesthetic success of art films is dependent on how well informed and sensitive the filmmaker is.”
“From the opening minutes to the last, the aesthetic of Les Statues meurent aussi draws attention self–reflexively to acts of looking. Not just that of spectators who peer into the camera lens just as they peer into the glass cabinets of the British Museum, the Musée du Congo Belge or the Musée de L’Homme, where much of the footage was filmed, but the ‘looking’ of us, as spectators in the broader sense. Even in a more contemporary light, after the Algerian War of Independence; after the Cuban Missile Crisis; after the European political upheavals of 1968; after the myriad political and world events that Marker and Resnais have consistently brought to the public eye, Les Statues meurent aussi subtly implies that because we look we are complicit in the events of the present and the past.”
- 1. Jenny Chamarette, “Les Statues meurent aussi,” Senses of Cinema, 2009.
“It sounds quite simple, despite the digital trickery that made it possible, but like the montage sequence at the end of L’Eclisse (1962), this is a very intricate simplicity, in terms of framing as well as editing. Conceptually it might be described as one restoration interacting with another restoration – a spectacle that, like all of Antonioni’s greatest films, pointedly raises more questions than it dares to answer, and preserves more mysteries than it can dream of resolving.”
- 1. Jonathan Rosenbaum, “The Gaze of Antonioni,” Rouge, 2004.