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Maurizio Bortolotti
The remarklable journey of Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, a pioneer in contemporay Middle Eastern art
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Helena Kontova
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CONTOUR: 4TH BIENNIAL OF MOVING IMAGE
Elena Sorokina

Flash Art  n.269 – November – December 2009

 

 

MECHELEN, BELGIUM - “Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder,” coined by the historian Christopher Andrews, suggests that today’s cultures, seduced by “short-termism,” tend to neglect long-term experiences, branding almost anything as “new.” This

year’s edition of Contour, the video biennial in Belgian Mechelen (Malines) curated by Katerina Gregos, privileges the opposite – unhurried narratives attentive to details, carefully researched and masterfully filmed. Acknowledging the current developments of the genre, Gregos re-named the video-biennial the “Biennial of Moving Image,” which

accentuates the diversity of today’s hybrid filmic forms, often situated in the cracks between the theatrical and the cinematic.

 

Andreas Bunte, La Fée Electricité, 2007. 16mm film, black and white, silent, 12 mins. Courtesy the

artist and Galerie Ben Kaufmann, Berlin. Stills: Hans Moser, Thomas Rosier.

 

The exhibition entitled “Hidden in Rememberance is the Silent Memory of our Future,” presents lens-based works by 18 artists, explicitly elaborating on the spatial dimension of the films. Installing them in different buildings around the city center, the show performs

some thoughtful takes on ubiquitous black boxes, reinterpreting them as spaces of interaction with the presented works. For example, the new production Vita Nova by Vincent Meessen is displayed in the famous art nouveau building of the  Scheppersinstituut. His “factual fiction” begins with an image of child soldier from Ouagadougou on the front page of Paris Match magazine from 1955. The less than obvious route from this image to Roland Barthes’s “The Great Family of Man” and it’s colonial phantoms is compellingly told through a multi-layered unfolding of events and accounts. Several other new (co)-productions — notably by David Maljkovic, Matthew

Buckingham, Wendelien van Oldduced enbourgh, Mira Sanders — engage with various possibilities of filmic installations in diverse, recent as well as historical, buildings of the city. In addition, the all-over design of the show as a walk between different spaces creates for the spectator an engaging interplay of relocations. The exhibition develops several relevant trajectories related to fact and fiction in historiography, hitting perhaps the most exciting points when addressing alternative histories and hidden stories, like in Lene

Berg’s hilarious cuts into some solemn master narratives (the animation film Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache, 2008.) La Fée Electricité (2007) by Andreas Bunte hypnotically narrates the advent of the light bulb and its mesmerizing impact on its contemporaries in the 19th century, while (irony of history?) the European

Commission just next door in Brussels is trying to ecologically reinvent the same bulbs, with the similarly perplexing effect on today’s European population.

 
Flash Art 269  NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2009

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