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FILM: Private Cinema - the Archive of Polish Experimental Film, gb agency's Selection, Jan Mot's Selection; 59 Seconds Video Festival, Steven Claydon, E-rock, Richard Kern


Private Cinema - the Archive of Polish Experimental Film
curated by Łukasz Ronduda
28.08 and 31.08 at 5 pm
Józef Robakowski – From My Window
Wilhelm Sasnal – selection of films from 1996 - 2006
Marcin Gajewski – Bigos
Agnieszka Brzeżańska – short films 1999 - 2006
Paweł Althamer – Veronica
Piotr Wyrzykowski – Video Diary
Koszałek – I’ve Given Birth to Such a Beautiful Boy

Among the recent video works by Polish artists, a trend has manifested itself that could be dubbed "private cinema." This type of cinematic activity has a rather long tradition in Poland. It was born among Polish artists under communism, made privately in a reaction to the impossibility of speaking out freely in the public sphere at the time. Even since Miron Białoszewski's short etudes, "private cinema" had been developing close to the artist's life, focused on recording everyday, banal activities and events, fantasies, masquerades, and so on. The films themselves were less important than the "social" effect they generated, the effect of strengthening the ties, closeness and friendship between the people meeting to make such a film. The term "private cinema" was coined by Józef Robakowski, an artist who reached for a new (more narrative, intimate, subjective) cinematic formula following a period of disillusionment with the overly objectified and rationalised "structural cinema." On the technological level, the emergence of the formula of "private cinema" was closely connected with the birth of a small, private, portable film or video camera, permitting an unprecedentedly close distance between the camera and its operator's life, giving the operator full control over the filmmaking process. Robakowski wrote of "private cinema" that it was a "way to remember oneself, to record one's own mentality, one's gestures… psychic tensions that occur alongside reality. Private Cinema comes into being when nothing works … [it is] a direct projection of the camera operator's thoughts. Freed from all fashions and aesthetical rules and the established linguistic codifications, it stands close to the filmmaker's life.' (Józef Robakowski, Kino własne [w:] Robakowski J. (red.) Teczka nr 12, Lublin 1992, str. 113).
The films comprising this show are very intimate, rooted strongly in their authors' existential experience, are an imagination-filtered recording of their relations with the world, with the place where they live permanently or at the given moment, their loved ones, friends, or people that have just met. The artists making such "video diaries" never part with the camera, permanently visualising their "distribution and redistribution of reality."

Robert Breer, Jamestown Baloos, 1957, courtesy gb agency

gb agency's Selection

Pia Rönicke, Zonen, 2005 (22.40 min.)
Robert Breer, Fuji, 1974 (8 min.)
Robert Breer, Jamestown Baloos,1957 (6 min.)

Pia Rönicke's concern with urban realities is reactivated in this documentary/fictional film through three young Danish architects who are on a visit to a site they have proposed to transform into a town for 20 000 people. The film is based in their theoretical jargon, and becomes a commentary on the relation between ideas and their realisation. In the "Zonen" they cross over, time is strangely suspended between the real and the fictional, the past and the future.

In the early seventies, Breer began using rotoscopy a device that enables animators to trace live action movement frame by frame. It was a low-tech forerunner to digital motion capture that allowed Breer to expand the time scale and slow down the rapid stream of images that had characterized his previous work.
In "Fuji", Robert Breer intersperse filmed images of a woman's face before Mt. Fuji shot out the window of a high-speed train. These merge into increasingly abstract drawn images of the mountain. The replication of images are related the master Japanese printmaker Hokusai's series Twenty Four Views of Mt Fuji, which masterfully demonstrate the profundity of drawing the same subject multiple times.

In "Jamestown Baloos", Breer expands on the radical collage technique he developed in "Recreation" and develops it into "a non-narrative style that had range rather than a percussive note." Conceived by the artist as the filmic equivalent of a triptych painting, Jamestown Baloos is structured symmetrically with two noisy black-and-white sections surrounding a silent color center section. "Jamestown Baloos" is related to the Surrealist collages of Max Ernst with repeating images of Napoleon, banal landscapes, and human forms with separable parts that join and fly apart in unpredictable ways. His imagery here evokes both surreal dream logic, as well as anticipating Pop Art's use of charged found images a few years later.

Jan Mot's Selection
Sven Augustijnen, L’école des Pickpockets, 2000 (48 min.)
Manon de Boer, Sylvia Kristel – Paris, 2003 (40 min.)
David Lamelas, Desert People, 1974 (ca. 47 min.)

"L'école des pickpockets" by Sven Augustijnen was shown in 2000 during the exhibition MetroPolis, an event organised by curator Moritz Küng, on the occasion of Brussels 2000, Cultural Capital of Europe. Artists infiltrated Contributions into the underground tram connecting that links the North and South Stations in Brussels. In his video Augustijnen showed how two experienced, professional pickpockets transform an aspiring pickpocket into a promising talent in just a few hours training in a closed-off rehearsal space. The student is initiated step by step into the philosophy of the trade, whereby the various moves that constitute this approximating handicraft are demonstrated and practised.

Manon de Boer, Sylvia Kristel – Paris, 2003, video still, courtesy Jan Mot"Paris" is shot on super-8 film and transferred to video.
Between November 2000 and June 2002 I recorded the strories and memories of the actress Sylvia Kristel, best known for her role in the 1970's erotic cult classic "Emmannuelle". At each recording session I asked her to speak about a city where she has lived: Paris, Los Angeles, Brussels or Amsterdam; over the two years she spoke on several occasions about the same city. At first glance the collection of stories appears to make up a sort of biography, but over time it shows the impossibility of biography: the impossibility of "plotting" somebody's life as a coherent narrative.
Kristel's stories wander through some of the key points in her life, fluidly forming and reforming the narrative elements. The city itself is rarely described directly. She speaks of her films, her love affairs and how these have influenced her life’s trajectory. The cities are co-ordinates to which her memories move to, find themselves within and move away from. This finds a parallel in the image. These images are filmed from high-up and at street level, moving over the cities' skin: its roofs, apartment buildings and boulevards, intercut by shots of cinemas, publicity images and people. The architecture appears as an interface between interiority and exteriority. Old Paris is intercut with images of architecture from the 1970's: buildings which didn’t exist when she lived there, but which are as iconic of the period as she is herself.

David Lamelas describes The Desert People as "a study on American film production". The Desert People begins like a classic road-movie. The setting is completely familiar to us: a car crossing the desert with a group of people traveling on board. But as soon as the narration begins, it is interrupted by documentary-style interviews. Passing in this way from one film genre to another, Lamelas manages to blur the boundary between fact and fiction.
The five passengers describe their experience on a North American native Indian reservation. Each member of the group has his or her own perspective on the Papago tribe. One offers an anthropological analysis while another discusses writing a feature article for a women's magazine. They each present their version of the "truth" about how the Papago live. Whilst they examine the tribe’s social behaviour, there is little self-reflection on their own group dynamic. Ironically, numerous cuts to their car journey reveal a complete lack of interaction between the travellers.
The final interviewee, Manny, a Papago Indian, comments on the way the American influence on Native Americans is leading to the loss of his own indigenous culture. His English drifts into Spanish and then Papago, as if the meaning of what he wishes to communicate would be lost in translation. For the English-speaking viewer this shift is confusing and demonstrates the difficulty of knowing another culture from the outside. The film ends unexpectedly with a jump cut back to the feature film scenario.

David Lamelas, Desert People, 1974, video still, courtesy Jan Mot
David Lamelas, Desert People, 1974, video still, courtesy Jan Mot

E-Rock Videos - Dan Hug Gallery
Optic Force Trilogy
1: Geomagnetic Mind Feeed 2: Max Force Vision Phaser 3: Day-glo Supernovea

Optic Force Trilogy is made up of three pairs, of which each is divided into three sections, each pressed on 3 inch DVDs, each 12 minutes long, which is 3x4 E four being the number of bars in a measure. There is some kind of scheming math and suspicious Gematria at work. However this deeply ordered structure, which wants you to plumb it, organises frenzy of this fairy like show of colours, sounds and effects: acidic colours, acidic sounds. Distortion turns everything, auditory and optical, into patterns and repetitions. Illusion is a dominant of this optical spectacle: mirrors, reflections and never ending repetitions create the world of delusion. Hypnotic performance of hues and warnings, alarms, and alerts shoot through the trilogy in rapid fire.
Geomagnetic Mind Feeed forms around a persistent image of a pyramid beyond reach crowned with an eye above a pixilated skull. Max Force Vision Phaser is utterly absorbed in a hypnotic obsession with concentric circles and spinning orbs. And Day-glo Supernovea is utter crazysness...