Exhibition, conference and publication
New exhibition opening 8 February 2012
A Trip to the Moon
8 February–8 April 2012
International conference in Stockholm 9–10 March
Before and After Cinema
Torsgatan 19 | SE-113 90 Stockholm | Sweden
T +46 8 736 42 48
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.bonnierskonsthall.se
A Trip to the Moon is an exhibition on contemporary art’s relationship to film, and part of a series of exhibitions at Bonniers Konsthall that explore exchanges between contemporary art and closely related art forms like theater and literature. The title refers to film pioneer George Méliès’s 1902 science fiction film of the same name—a whimsical fantasy about the technology of the future from the earliest days of cinema. It provides the starting point for an exhibition in which ten contemporary artists play with film and its history in combination with a selection of historical footnotes.
New digital techniques inevitably result in older film formats ending up in the graveyard of the obsolete and the superfluous. This means the loss of a certain way of seeing, of a way of making pictures, and of a particular feeling created by a technique. How those shift, those births and deaths in the history of moving image, influence and change art is a major theme of the exhibition. A parallel theme of the exhibition includes artwork that looks closely at how the history of film forms our way of envisioning the world and creates our secondary selves. Artists such as Douglas Gordon, Ryan Trecartin, Ming Wong and Alex Reynolds reuse and recast film narrative techniques, camera movements and characters originating from masters like Alfred Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman, as well as the wider context of the Hollywood star system and TV’s celebrity culture.
The love affair between art and film started the moment the film camera was invented. In order to explore the relationship that has always existed between art and film, we place the modern exhibition pieces alongside a number of historical films by, in addition to George Méliès, Dara Birnbaum, Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Schwartz, and Dziga Vertov.
A century after the first film experiments, moving image is an inevitable part of our visual culture. We interact constantly with moving images on different screens: computers, mobile phones and game consoles. With the development of portable equipment and social networks on the internet, the making, screening and distribution of film have become available to everyone. One could say that we have now reached the stage after film, a shift in technologies, maybe as decisive as the invention of film itself. A sad consequence of the invention of new technologies is that other techniques have to move to the graveyard of the outmoded and the obsolete. Those funerals also mean the burial of a certain vision.
How those shifts, those births and deaths in the history of the moving image, influence and change art is the core in this spring’s major exhibition project A Trip To the Moon.
In the exhibition viewers are presented with contemporary artists who employ moving imagery as their tool to express the theme of the history and future of filmmaking. The fascination of the field of visual arts with film extends right back to the moment the film camera was invented. In order to delve into the debate that has always existed between these two art forms, we will be screening a selection of historical feature films and shorter video installations as footnotes in the exhibition. Video art often serves as a commentary on the role of film in society as a whole, as well as exploring the vast possibilities offered by the medium of film.
_______ Footnotes in the exhibition ________________________________
In the exhibition A Trip to the Moon, viewers are presented with contemporary artists who employ moving imagery as their tool to express the theme of the history and future of filmmaking. The fascination of the field of visual arts with film extends right back to the moment the film camera was invented. In order to delve into the debate that has always existed between these two art forms, we will be screening a selection of historical feature films and shorter video installations. Video art often serves as a commentary on the role of film in society as a whole, as well as exploring the vast possibilities offered by the medium of film.
Dara Birnbaum first became known as one of the video installation world’s leading figures when she appropriated nothing more than clips from the cult-series Wonder Woman in her art film Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman. The viewer follows secretary Diana Prince through action-filled scenes as she transforms into Wonder Woman, a character inspired by legendary Greek warwomen. After this production, Birnbaum took material from soap operas, pop quizzes and sports shows as a commentary on how TV media affects our lives.
As king of the silent film era, Charlie Chaplin acts out all possible hardships a stagehand can encounter during a film production in Behind the Screen. One of the film’s side stories looks upon a woman who dresses as a man in able to work as a carpenter. Chaplin’s character sees through her act and begins courting her. Their flirtatiousness is discovered at an intimate moment and they are accused of being homosexuals. Early days for a debate of its kind!
Since the advent of the computer, artists and experimental film producers have trialled and tribulated over just how to create digital imagery. Lillian Schwartz was one of the first to carve the path for today’s use of computer graphics, 3D and animation. Pixillation is one of the earliest video installations that was created entirely digitally, displaying abstract colourful designs that transform shape along to a beating soundtrack.
Méliès silent adventure film made a huge impact when it was released in 1902. A Trip to the Moon deals with a group of people who travels to the moon – from this film the science fiction genre was born. The plot is loosely based on Jules Vernes’ book From the Earth to the Moon, as well as The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells.
Dziga Vertov was one of the Soviet Union’s most important filmmakers, and The Man with a Camera had a deciding impact on the development of film. This film displays city life in the Soviet Union through the eye of the filmmaker. ThroughThe Man with a Camera, Vertov introduced such innovative filming techniques as camera tracking, fast and slow motion, and double exposure.
The exhibition will be followed by a new anthology, A Trip to the Moon, with contributions by the artists in the exhibition and writers like Sara Arrhenius, Christiane Paul, Don DeLillo, Jan Holmberg, and Gene Youngblood. Release date March 9.
Before and After Cinema
Conference 9–10 March, 2012
Birger Jarlsg. 41 A, Stockholm
Before and After Cinema is an international conference on the status of the moving image in contemporary art, in the perspective of the shift from analogue to digital media, and what this means to distribution, perception, archiving and the making of art and film. The conference is a part of a larger collaboration between Bonniers Konsthall and Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The conference is co-produced by Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Artist
Sara Arrhenius: Director Bonniers Konsthall
Daniel Birnbaum: Director Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Dara Birnbaum: Artist
Jan Holmberg: CEO of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and Curator of the Ingmar Bergman Archives
Magdalena Malm: Director Mobile Art Production, Stockholm
Christiane Paul: Director of Media Studies Graduate Programs and Associate Prof., School of Media Studies, The New School , Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art.
Ming Wong: Artist
What kind of impact have film and the moving image had on art from the early 20th century until today? How is this relationship likely to develop in the future? What is the significance of the rapid changes that occur in the transition from analogue to digital? These are some of the issues that will be discussed in Before and After Cinema.
The speakers of the conference are all renowned international artists and scholars. On the first day, pioneering video artist Dara Birnbaum will set the tone for the discussion, talking about her career, spanning 40 years, as an artist working with moving images.
During the second day, theory will be alternated with examples from artistic practices. Christiane Paul, Director of Media Studies at The New School and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art, will discuss a number of artists who have developed the moving image by employing new technology and new manners of displaying art. Jan Holmberg, managing director of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and the Ingmar Bergman Archives will discuss if digitalisation is the answer when analogue techniques are neglected and we risk losing large parts of the infancy of cinema.
The artists Eija-Liisa Ahtila and Ming Wong will conduct a conversation each with Daniel Birnbaum and Sara Arrhenius respectively. In several works, Ming Wong has recreated films by directors such as Fassbinder and Antonioni. Usually he also plays most of the roles in his new versions, which gives them a completely different meaning. In Bonniers Konsthall’s current exhibition A Trip to the Moon, Ming Wong shows a new work based on Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. Bonniers Konsthall’s director, Sara Arrhenius and Ming Wong will discuss his relationship to film, actors and acting.
Eija-Liisa Ahtila is currently exhibiting Parallel Worlds at Moderna Museet. Her filmic installations challenge ingrained perspectives and introduce us to new worlds of experience. A distinctive story teller in moving images, she highlights and visualises what it means to be human and a subject. Ahtila wants to make the viewer aware of how our perception of the surrounding world is both determined and restricted by our senses. In “Before and After Cinema”, Eija-Liisa Ahtila will discuss the thematics of her exhibition and her works with the director of Moderna Museet, Daniel Birnbaum.
Jan Holmberg: Ars longa? Not cinema, at least
In some hundred years, all analogue films will be lost. Large parts of the infancy of cinema have already disappeared and later films have become bleached in colour and the sound has lost its timbre. Is digitisation the answer? The most probable answer is no. Digital archives have to be updated constantly and the lifespan of hard drives and discs is considerably shorter than that of analogue film. The swift transition into the digital age may mean that even more of film history will be lost. Jan Holmberg is the managing director of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and the Ingmar Bergman Archives.
The day will be concluded by a panel discussion featuring Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Sara Arrhenius, Daniel Birnbaum, Dara Birnbaum, Jan Holmberg, Christiane Paul and Ming Wong. The moderator is Magdalena Malm.
The “Before and After Cinema” conference is a part of a larger collaboration between Moderna Museet and Bonniers Konsthall on the status of the moving image in 20th-century and contemporary art. The project is set up as a dialogue between the two participating institutions with a series of exhibitions. In conjunction with the exhibitions, a series of film programmes curated by invited guests will be screened at Cinema Sture.
Cinema Sture, Birger Jarlsgatan 41, Stockholm
Tickets are booked through Cinema Sture, T +46 8-5629 4880, and picked up upon arrival.
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For detailed programme and more information about the speakers and the program, please visit www.bonnierskonsthall.se.