One of Bonniers Konsthall’s most popular exhibitions is Tomás Saraceno’s exhibition, shown in 2010. The gigantic spider web, the piece 14 Billions (Working Title), was commissioned by Bonniers Konsthall and is now in our collections and it is one of three exhibitions that we have on tour at the moment. Last weekend it opened at Kunsthalle Helsinki (Taidehalli).
The installation looks great as usual and Tomás has added some new pieces and our documentation of the studies made for the project is on display as well. So if you miss the piece, there is still a chance. It’s up until 3 October.
The other of our exhibitions on tour are Klara Kristalova, which is about to open at Gothenburg Museum of Art and The Spiral and the Square, at the moment at Sörlandets Kunstmuseum in Kristiansand in Norway.
The blog has been asleep for a while, but it’s time to awake it with some new posts. Our biggest project in the autumn is More than Sound. It’s a project on contemporary art and music and composition, similar to the A Trip to the Moon project. While waiting for the opening, we will use the blog to take a look at some important works from the history. Works, some exhibitions, some books as well as some other things related to the topic. We start with a couple of recent exhibitions.
Earlier this year Kiasma showed their Thank You for the Music. It was an exhibition far from the sound art tradition, collecting some works taking off from popular music and the cult around different bands. It was a surprisingly quiet exhibition as it was dealing with sound.
Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard: Kiss My Nauman, from Kiasma’s Thank You for the Music.
The Kiasma exhibition closed just before summer, so if you want to see an exhibition that relates to music, it is a better idea to go to Karlsruhe and ZKM. Actually it’s no hurry. The exhibition Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art is up until January 2013. It’s not a good idea to compare the two exhibitions since they are so different. As the dry title indicates this is an exhibition on sound art, and as curator Peter Weibel explains the aim is to give a survey of the sound art practice in the 21st century. A practice that, if you use the exhibition as your atlas to sound art, is very much dependent on the sound art of the 20th century, just a bit updated with some digital technologies and social networking methods.
It’s very educational and the exhibition brings in some of the most important historical works as well. You will find John Cage, Joseph Beuys, Alvin Lucier, Luigi Russolo, Pauline Oliveros, Nam June Paik, La Monte Young… The result is rather the frames that younger artists need to struggle with rather that a generous picture of what is going on at the moment. The problem with sound art seems to be similar to the problem with new media art. It seems like it has to be done in a certain way, look and sound in a certain way and indicate the right references.
Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art includes some of the artists we will work with in the More than Sound project at Bonniers Konsthall: Carl-Michael von Hausswolff, Susan Hiller and Haroon Mirza and of course John Cage. Still it will be two very different exhibitions.
Our A Trip to the Moon exhibition closes on Sunday 8th of April. It has been a great love affair in between the contemporary art and film. We started a bliog series with some fantastic film, first to count down to the opening and the to the end of the show. We are now closing the series with number 1-3 on the list.
1. Carnival of Souls by Herk Harvey
American B-films from the 1960’s can be really really bad. This happens to be a good one. When Elfride Jelinek was asked to choose a film for a film screening once, she chose Carnival of Souls. You can read her celebration of the film here. There is nothing remarkable with the acting in the film. There are some interesting shots, but also many disturbing ones. The manuscript – well there isn’t too much of it either. But the film has a very gloomy and odd feeling, from the first frame to the last. This is thanks to two circumstances. One: there isn’t much of lightning in the film. It is semi dark all the time. I guess this is a result of the low budget. Second: it is a very quiet film. People don’t talk much and it seems it has been recorded silent and then they added the actors’ lines and just a few environmental sounds. Sound wise there isn’t much going on. To fill this gap up they have added the most strangely played church organ. Very psychedelic and adds to the dreamlike feeling. See the film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exUFpSFblaw
2. Night of the Living Dead
It’s made in 1968, still black and white. That says something about the budget. And since it’s a low budget film it has the low tech resolution so it could be filmed as well as 1934 as 1968. This illusion is broken when a 1960’s car drives into story. Not so many minutes later a man and a woman steps out of the car. A zombie shows up, kills the man and the woman takes shelter inside a house. Inside there are already some others hiding from the zombies. The rest of the film, well over an hour, takes place inside the house. So it’s inside against the outside for the rest of the film. A role model for many horror movies as well as for science fiction and suspense films. Again, youtube has it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfShkumjeq8
3. The Phantom of the Opera by Rupert Julian
A silent film that must be one of the most gothic ones ever made. The story we all know, but it cannot be better told than it is here. The opera scenes must make any costume drama director mad of envy and the catacombs with the canals and the gondolas makes any horror or gothic freak stuffed with their favorite food for months. It’s also kind of arty and plays a lot with shadows and angles and there are some stunning staircase views in the film.
4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Wallace Worsley
Lon Chaney was one of the great names on the early horror movie scene. You had Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. Lon Chaney did a great job in The Phantom of the Opera, but he is even better as the Hunchback. He did all the stunts himself and was from the film and on suffering of aches from his back due to the heavy costume. Fortunately the contact lens he wore though the shooting didn’t harm his eye. Nearly as gothic as the Phantom, but more thrilling and faster told.
5. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens by F. W. Murnau
This is the original vampire film, the role model, the one that all other vampire movies take off from and films like Herzog’s Nosferatu and Shadow of the Vampire deals with. As it sets the standard of a whole genre there isn’t much to add. It’s just a must see.
6. The Last Man on Earth by Ubaldo Ragona
When I am Legend was released some years ago it meant a total violation of the original movie, The Last man on Earth, which has a much more complex manuscript as well as a very strange and hopeless feeling all over it. Imagine: there is a world catastrophe and you are the last surviving human being, the only one immune to a new virus. Would you then be just walking around the empty and demolished streets playing golf as Will Smith did? Or would you be totally depressed, going around trying to find a meaning with this dark, dark life as Vincent Price did? Also, I Am Legend missed the nice end where Price becomes messiah, dying but giving his blood so that humanity can carry on.
7. Shadow of the Vampire by E Elias Merhige
A film about the making of the Nosferatu, the silent movie. The shooting becomes a disaster as the director (John Malkovic) asks a real vampire, Max Schreck, to take the lead role. This is in all a metaphor for film making and all art projects. The director wants perfection and makes a snuff movie, obsessed as he is about his work. The end scenes where Schreck has consumed the whole film crew except for the director himself, who has taken over the cameraman’s job, is maybe my favorite movie scene ever. While Schreck bites his last victim in front of the lens, Malkovic keeps shouting that he’s making art with the camera, sees the reality through the camera. At last the daylight comes and kills Schreck. Light and darkness, the two main components in film. The sun that is both life giving and dangerous to analogue film, is here so beautifully knitted together with the vampire myth. And the film is short, running only 92 minutes, just as the old horror flicks. And Udo Kier from Andy Warhols Blood for Dracula is one of the characters. Gold medal.
8. The Sadist by James Landis
I see a lot of B-movies. Most of them are ones that I have to fast forward to keep sane. They are bad and boring. But sometimes you feel from the first minute that a film is special. The Sadist is one of them and it’s a really really good film. The main role is played by Arch Hall Jr. All film he has been involved in is a terror to watch, mostly because of mr Hall himself. He is not the new Elvis, nor a hero or a pretty boy. What he is, is a true psycho. This is obvious in the Sadist where he stars as one of two lunatics taking a hostage at a countryside garage.
9. The Brain Machine by Joy N Houck Jr
Computers that take control over humanity – it’s a classic sci-fi theme, used in films such as Bladerunner and 2001 – a space odessey. This dilemma, we want the machines to be smart, but not too smart, led Isaac Asimov to set three laws for robotics in his short story Runaround: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second laws. The Brain Machine is not really about a robot but about a computer brain taking control over a group of people volunteering in a scientific experiment about mind-reading and memory. The experiment goes wrong and it’s obvious whoever programmed the brain machine didn’t any Asimov reading.
10. L’Uccello dalle piume di Cristallo by Dario Argento
Dario Argento is without doubt one of those legendary horror film directors. Some of his films have a definite B-film odor and they can be really violent and sometimes shows a simple and bad taste. But, in a huge contrast to this they always have a deeper psychology and they seem to take form around complex philosophical questions. Also the art and the question of creativity seem to be central for Argento. The plot in this films starts with a murder attempt in an art gallery (I love art and I love films where art and artists play leading roles. And they often do in Argento’s films). A writer witness’ the attempt and when he and his girlfriend start to investigate the case they become the target for a serial killer. It’s an early Argento film. I think he had his best time in the 1970’s.The music score is signed Ennio Morricone.
11. The Warriors by Walter Hill
This is a film that I just can’t get enough of. I don’t know how many times I have seen it. The soundtrack is also great, you can find it on Spotify. Walter Hill cooked down the whole feeling of the late 70’s and early 80’s to a film where teenagers take over New York City. For a teenager, I was 15 when I saw it the first time it was of course fantastic to see a full film where some punks of my own age ruled the whole town. Also the real time feeling was something that made the film different. You had a feeling you were there, witnessing what was actually going on in the streets. I remember that the film was discussed. It was violent, but it certainly it had some qualities that anybody interested in film had to admit. Now, some decades later, what is striking is the choreography and the theatricality of the film. Little Warriors, come out and playyyeyyy…
12. Driller Killer by Abel Ferrara
This is a film from the late 70’s that was widely discussed in Sweden, along with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was one of the first titles that were released on the video market (it was a video film – it starts with the declaration “THIS FILM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD”). At the time, VCR:s just became available for the home market in Sweden, but the renting market was quiet small. In the city where I lived there were only one store and they maybe had like 50 titles. Probably Driller Killer was one of them.
I like films about artists. This is about an artist in New York. He gets an advance from his gallery, to fulfill some works for his next exhibition. While he is working, a punk band moves in next doors to his studio. It drives him mad and he equips himself with a wireless power drill and starts to kill homeless people with it. Can one imagine a worse weapon than a slow power drill? It gets even worse when the owner of his gallery laughs when he is shown the material for the next show. The new paintings are totally useless. Both the gallery owner and the punk band get the same treatment as the poor homeless people earlier.
Anonymous said: Is the upcoming "Before and After Cinema" conference going to be recorded or transmitted life on the web for international audiences? If so, where can I watch it. If not, why? I believe it is a relevant topic to share on an broader international scale and the platform for doing it is fairly inexpensive and simple.
The conferene will be recorded, but only for documentation. There are many reasons why, mainly technical, and the fact that the conference takes place in a Cinema Theatre, with no Internet and where mobile connection have a very weak signal. The quality of the streaming wouldn’t match the quality of the content. Next time…
13. Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari by Robert Wiene
The plot of this film is pretty complicated. In short: at a carnival Dr Caligari exhibits a somnambulist who spends most of his time sleeping in a coffin but when awake can predict the future. He tells that a man is going to be dead before dawn and when this man actually dies, murdered, Caligari is suspected. Then a hunt after him starts. Sounds simple, but this is really to take it brief. Well, anyway, it’s not the plot that made this film legendary. It’s the stage designs, together with a quiet advanced camera work and direction. Made in 1919 it’s an early example of the German expressionism, with twisted stages borrowing from the contemporary movements within the expressionistic and futuristic art.
Full movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrg73BUxJLI
14. Scanners by David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg’s films stand out in the horror genre. It’s their surrealistic plots that mix horror and sci-fi and their quite sophisticated discussions of philosophical matters. They are clearly way over the normal horror standard. Videodrome is one favorite, where a man develops a VCR in his stomach. But if I need to choose just one from Cronenberg, my choice is Scanners, a film about people who can control other peoples’ minds and make their heads explode. It is both gore and thought provoking schizophrenia at the same time.
15. Le Salaire de la Peur by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Most thrillers speed up the tempo to gain action. Henri-Georges Clouzot understood that slowing down can be as effective, maybe even more effective. Somewhere in South America two men are hired to drive a nitroglycerine transport. They are going to earn a fortune. But to survive they have to drive really slow and the old dirt road is bumpy. The tension in this film is really exhausting. Not a film that falls off as soon as the light goes on and you get up from your seat.
16. Metropolis by Fritz Lang
An der Kamera Fritz Lang. A friend of mine had the German Metropolis poster on the wall in his first apartment. Maybe that was the reason I went to a Metropolis screening with a live pianist somewhere in the 1990’s. I am glad I did. It has since then been a film to return to, again and again. The ultra-futuristic city is fantastic, and was copied in Blade Runner. All Lang’s films are great. I like his noirs. But Metropolis is the must.
17. Pierrot le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard
Many of Godard’s films seem a bit too loose and witty. Meta-film, deconstructing already in the planning of the shots and the writing the manuscript, Godard analyzes the medium a bit too much for my taste. All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl Godard declared. That’s a good concept. And that’s about what there is in Pierrot le Fou. And some incredible acting from Jean-Paul Belmondo, a lot of love to the cinema, some funny talking right to the audience talk but also a nice Bonnie and Clyde story. The hero is a cynic criminal, and Godard seems to pay very little respect to what is decent to present in a film.
18. Persona by Ingmar Bergman
I still haven’t seen a bad one or a boring Bergman film. (Well. En Passion comes quite close). It’s the tension in between the actors, the dialogue and what is not said but understood in between the lines, the camera work… Two films had to make it into the list, but Gycklarnas Afton, Jungfrukällan, Nattvardsgästerna and Såsom I en Spegel could also have made it. Persona is definitively the most radical one, taking up avant-garde ideas, especially in the intro. I read that Bergman was visiting some radical theatre experiments in Stockholm, including experimental film and performance at the time for Persona. Maybe he picked up something from them. I find the film cold, sharp and threatening.