Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M) – Madrid, Spain
November 22, 2010
Borrowing its title from an essay by Georges Didi-Huberman, a selection of recent films question how the past, present, and future can be portrayed through the afterlife of objects, architecture, and ritual behavior. A public that no longer exists is addressed in the contribution of Yael Bartana, while the work of Julia Meltzer and David Thorne imagines how a future audience might arise; Rosalind Nashashibi brings the artifice of production into close proximity with the ritual behavior of anonymous seduction, and the works of Nashashibi/Skaer and Mary Simpson respond to the continued auratic potential of image and object.
Mary Simpson, RR (2010, 16 mm, 5 minutes, color, silent)
A silent 16mm film offers a portrait of an object found in the "kitchen" of Robert Rauschenberg's Greenwich Village studio. The site of many artistic gatherings, performances, and events, the building’s past as an orphanage is also evoked.
Yael Bartana, Mary Koszmary (2007, 16 mm, 11 minutes, color, sound)
Mary Koszmary considers the complex legacies of European anti-Semitism and xenophobia. A young man, played by Polish leftist author and politician Slawomir Sierakowski, enters an empty Warsaw stadium and entreats the three million Jewish Poles who were either killed or exiled from Poland to return to their homeland while a troupe of Scout-like youths stencil a message of hope for reconciliation across the stadium floor.
Rosalind Nashashibi, Jack Straw’s Castle (2009, 16 mm, 17 minutes 20 sec., color, sound)
Shot in and around a London park known for sexual cruising, Jack Straw’s Castle enfolds verité footage with highly constructed scenarios that reveal the film’s artifice and production from oblique angles. Imbued with the pacing of a ritual act that is forever delayed, the notion of the present moment shifts between the atmosphere of anonymous seduction and the constructed image.
Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, We Will Live to See These Things or Five Pictures of What May Come to Pass (2007, Video, 47 minutes, color, sound)
We Will Live deals with competing visions of the future in Damascus, Syria. Each section—the chronicle of a building, a recitation anticipating the arrival of a perfect leader, an interview with a dissident intellectual, a portrait of a Qur’an school for young girls, and an imagining of the world made anew—offers a different perspective on what might happen in a place caught between the competing forces of a repressive regime, a growing conservative Islamic movement, and intense pressure from the United States.
Nashashibi/Skaer, Our Magnolia (2009, 16mm, 4 minutes 30 sec., color, silent)
Responding to Paul Nash's 1944 painting Flight of the Magnolia, Nashashibi/Skaer (a collaboration between artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer) intercut a series of iconographic leaps—from the iconic visage of Margaret Thatcher and footage of the looting of Iraq's National Museum at the onset of the Iraq War, through to the relic of a whale carcass, and magnolia trees in bloom—to reanimate the associative potential of an image.