Coréennes by John Fitzgerald – Chris Marker Photo Exhibition at Peter Blum Gallery

Korean Ballerina, Chris Marker, Peter Blum Gallery

John Fitzgerald is a periodic contributor to chrismarker.org, and we would like to extend our gratitude to him for crafting this piece for us. Previously he has written In a Train of the Métro, Passengers and A Grin Without a Cat, Lincoln Center.

A question that arose toward the end of my recent visit to Peter Blum Gallery in New York to view the Chris Marker “Koreans” exhibition is illustrative of the veil of mystery that hangs over so much of his life and work. Having studied the photos of individual North Koreans hanging on the gallery walls – photos that I had long believed had been incorporated into a film that he had done on the subject – I then came upon a book resting against the wall with all of the same photographs and with an accompanying text written in Korean. Beside this book was a smaller paperback, including an English translation of the text, but without the photographs. So were these pictures in the gallery photographs that had been incorporated into a film? Or were the photographs themselves the main body of work, of which the book was merely a compendium piece? Or was the book that I was holding in fact the principle artistic expression – the words and images playing off of each other, each giving added meaning to the other?

The gallery attendant helpfully added clarity, noting that the photographs originally appeared in the book Coréennes and that what was on display in the gallery were reproductions. What was not in the exhibition, then, was the accompanying commentary that Marker had included in the original book. (An added note of confusion came when I pointed out that the text was written in Korean – a language I was not aware that Marker had been conversant in – and we agreed that the actual text must originally have been in French before being translated into Korean.) She also noted that the photographs on view in the gallery were digital photographs. Marker had digitized, and in some cases altered, the original 35mm photos that appeared in the book.

Between the photographs being set apart from the original text that accompanied them, the digital alteration of the original images, and even the added confusion about what language the text had originally appeared in, the various levels of removal was reminiscent of the first time that I had been introduced to Marker’s work at a screening of Sans Soleil: a French film, dubbed in English, and largely about the Japanese, in which an unnamed woman seems to read letters she has received from an unnamed man across great gaps of distance and time. In everything that Marker touches, there are layers.

In an exhibition of photographs we are only treated to one of those layers. I would compare it to watching Sans Soleil with the sound turned off: the images of sleeping Japanese on the ferry from Hokkaido would not be half so arresting without Marker’s voiceover meditation – “Waiting, immobility, snatches of sleep. Curiously, all of that makes me think of a past or future war: night trains, air raids, fallout shelters – small fragments of war enshrined in everyday life. He liked the fragility of those moments suspended in time. Those memories whose only function had been to leave behind nothing but memories.”

One striking photograph in the exhibition shows a woman dressed in a modern gender-neutral shirt and pants walking down the street and effortlessly carrying a large basket perfectly balanced on her head. Marker captures her as she walks directly under an awning featuring a placard painted with a woman wearing a traditional Western-style white dress. Your eye notes the dualism of the figures in the photograph and you recall Marker’s affinity for contrasts. But divorced from the accompanying text, we miss out entirely on Marker’s poetic meditation of a street in North Korea as a kind of self-contained universe:

head carrying coréenne

A great deal of Korea strolls by on Koreans’ heads. Like those salon magicians hired round the turn of the century – barely introduced beneath a false name before they would begin juggling with the furniture to entertain the guests – the Koreans like to set objects dancing. Baskets, earthenware jars, bundles of wood, basins, all escape the earth’s gravity to become satellites of these calm planets, obeying exacting orbits. For the Korean street has its cycles, its waves, its rails. In this double décor, where hastened ruins and buildings still aborning strike a second’s balance of incompletion, the soldier who (foresightedly) buys a civilian’s sun hat, the worker leaving the construction site, the bureaucrat with his briefcase, the woman in traditional dress and the woman in modern dress, the porter carrying a brand new allegory to the museum of the Revolution with a woman in black following step by step to decipher it – all have their route and precise place, like constellations.

smiling Korean Chris Marker Peter Blum Gallery

In a short notice about the exhibition recently published in The Wall Street Journal, the reviewer’s principle observation comes in the last sentence: “All in all, it looks normal.” The “it” that the reviewer is referring to is North Korea, and, confronted with images of people dancing, practicing ballet, walking to the market, or posing for a photograph, it does seem rather unremarkable. Given the West’s perception of North Korea as an isolated rogue state most commonly associated with newsreels of long columns of soldiers marching in machine-like precision while parading ballistic missiles down the avenue, there is unquestionably inherent value in an exhibition of photographs that shows them in their everyday life, images far removed from the militaristic propaganda with which we are all so familiar. Such images are nearer to the Petit Planète series of travel books to which Marker contributed and that went against the genre’s propensity to Orientalize far-off places. Standing in the gallery, we are not witness to the wretched shackles of communism or the visible consequences of a morally-depraved regime depriving its owns citizens of food. The little ballerina in Untitled #27 more closely calls to mind the world of Edgar Degas than Kim Il-sung.

Which begs the question – if ever so briefly – as to what extent these photographs themselves have elements of propaganda. The photos were taken during a period in which Marker was collaborating on some of his most overtly political films, including Cuba si! and Far from Vietnam, the latter of which was reviewed by Renata Adler in The New York Times as a “rambling partisan newsreel collage.” A filmmaker putting his name to projects featuring interviews with Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh might well be expected to paint a flattering – and perhaps skewed – picture of life in that other workers’ paradise north of the 38th parallel. But we must consider that North Korea in 1957 was not revealed as the human catastrophe that it was later to become under the ensuing decades of rule by the Kims, and we can excuse Marker for seeking out the basic humanity in a communist country that he had hoped – as he noted in a 1997 coda to the Coréennes text – would manifest a break with “the Soviet model” of Marxism. “Those children of Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Bolivar, or Marti had no reason to kneel before dogma elaborated by bureaucrats born from a Leninist host-mother inseminated by Kafka,” he wrote. “The answer is: they did.”

They did, indeed. And perhaps that is the other element that is missing from this exhibition, an exhibition that might have shown pictures of the promise of communism alongside pictures of the consequences of communism, such as borrowed newsreel images of starved bodies or the tens of thousands of political prisoners in forced labor camps. Marker included a powerful postscript to his Coréennes text for inclusion on the Immemory CD-ROM in 1997, a postscript that was shown against a background of newspaper clips of the North Korean famine. “The balance sheet to which most of the texts and images on this disc bear witness is totally disastrous, and I feel neither the right nor the inclination to ignore that,” he wrote. But no equivalent photographic postscript was evident in the exhibition at Peter Blum. As I left the gallery, one of the most striking images I noticed was of a handsome Korean man in Western clothes grinning widely, and I could not help but think of Marker’s Lewis Carroll-esque expression for the illusory hopes of socialist revolutions that never materialized – “a grin without a cat.”

A short 2009 note by Marker that accompanies the exhibition to some extent fills in the gap left by the photographs, observing how “time froze on that country . . . while the megalomaniac leadership of both Kims had proven a disaster.” It also includes a contemporaneous snippet of a communiqué from the country’s state-run news agency touting a much-publicized missile launch, noting that the government’s recent actions had the full support of “the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.” Marker observes: “Yes, you read correctly. ‘Soviet Union.’ In 2009.”

Satellite Image of Dark North Korea

The difficulty is that these photographs are likewise frozen in time and the overwhelming “normalcy” of the images seems so dissonant with what we actually know about life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I noted earlier Marker’s description of the “satellites” in a North Korean street, but one of the most compelling recent visuals to emerge of this impenetrable country is the image of North Korean streets seen from the satellites – an entire population literally living in the dark. Photographed intermittently from orbiting satellites over the years, the recurring image is that of the democratic south shimmering in light while the communist north is shrouded in darkness. With his penchant both for technology and juxtaposition, it might have been a fitting image to accompany his postscript to Coréennes, a poignant aria of disillusionment penned toward the close of the 1990s and concluding with a bleak commentary on a century that, “despite all it shams, had so little real existence – which may after all have been nothing but an immense, interminable fade-over.”

John Fitzgerald

Installation Views Courtesy of Peter Blum Gallery, New York
Works Courtesy of the Chris Marker Estate and Peter Blum Gallery, New York

§

Coreennes English

Editor’s Addendum

Coréennes doit s’entendre ici au sens de Gnossiennes ou Provinciales c’est’-à-dire “pièces d’inspiration coréenne”. On y trouvera, outre les dames de Corée (qui à elles seules vaudraient plus d’un long-métrage), des tortues qui rient, des géants qui pleurent, un légume qui rend immortel, trois petites filles changées en astres, un ours médecin, un chien qui mange la lune, un tambour qui fait danser des tigres, plusieurs chouettes, et sur ce décor immortel un pays anéanti hier par la guerre, qui repousse “à la vitesse d’une plante au cinéma” entre Marx et les fées. Vous apprendrez encore que les Coréens ont inventé l’imprimerie avant Gutenberg, le cuirassé avant Potemkine et la Grand Garabagne avant Michaux, dans ce “court-métrage” où l’on souhaite voir apparaître un genre distinct de l’album et du reportage, qu’on appellerait faute de mieux ciné-essai comme il y a des ciné-romans — à une seule réserve près, mais d’importance: les personnages ne s’y expriment pas encore par de jolis phylactères en forme de nuage, comme dans les comics. Mais il faut savoir attendre…Chris Marker, cover of orig. French version of Coréennes, curiously elided in English text version

Coréennes should be understood in the sense of Gnossiennes [Satie] or Provinciales [Pascal], that is to say ‘pieces of korean [fem. - Ed.] inspiration.’ Besides the women of Korea – who themselves would be worth more than one full-length film – one will find tortoises that laugh, giants who cry, a vegetable for immortality, three little girls turned into stars, a doctor bear, a dog who eats the moon, a drum that makes tigers dance, multiple cats, and on this immortal decore a country annihilated yesterday by war, one that regrows ‘with the speed of a plant in the cinema’ between Marx and the fairies. You will learn as well that the Koreans invented the printing press before Gutenberg, the armorplate/breastplate before Potemkine and the Grand Garabagne before Michaux.* In this ‘short film’ one hopes to see revealed a distinct genre of the album or journalism, one will call for lack of a better term ‘essay film’ – like there are novel films [ciné-romans, a sly reference to La Jetée -Ed.] – with one small but important reservation: the people do not express themselves by the amusing bubbles in the form of clouds, as in the comics. But just you wait…Chris Marker, Coréennes

* Henri Michaux’ work Voyage en Grand Garabagne was written in 1936 and later became part of the volume Ailleurs, published in 1948. As one critic puts it, “Voyage en Grande Garabagne présente des peuples inventés avec des moeurs et des coutumes fantastiques. [...] la grande sobriété de l’écriture contraste avec l’imagination et l’invention débridées de l’auteur. – overblog. We can’t help but be reminded of Borges and Foucault’s great opening to Les mots et les choses

It By Others by Duncan Campbell Responds to Marker & Resnais’ Statues Also Die

Dublin-born artist Duncan Campbell has been nominated for his contribution to Scotland’s 2013 Venice Biennale pavilion. The feature work is a film entitled “It for Others” which responds to Chris Marker and Alan Resnais’ 1953 film essay about historical African art and colonialism, “Statues Also Die.”Who Will Win Tate’s Turner Prize in 2014?

For more on Duncan Campbell, including a gallery and video interviews, see Generation Arts Scotland. Another piece of interest comes from the Guardian, Artist of the week 163: Duncan Campbell.

Dialector Reloaded, or We Aren’t In Kansas City Anymore

Dialector on Monitor at KansasFest

This just in, or rather just in to my brain running one month behind, on the Dialector front – Chris Marker’s human-computer conversation program – from poptronics.fr. We’ll get the whole article translated asap. Vivent les rétrogeeks! Who knew that Marker’s resurrected early digital interactive creation DIALECTOR starred in a geekfest in Kansas City over the Summer?

14’08’14
andré lozano
poptronics.fr

Comment j’ai reloadé Dialector de Chris Marker au KansasFest

Donc voilà, je suis parti avec ma disquette 5 pouces 1/4 de « Dialector » dans le sac à destination de Kansas City, Etats-Unis, pour « reloader » le programme que Chris Marker a écrit au mitan des années 1980. Et ce dans un environnement technologique et sociologique unique en son genre, le KansasFest, le rendez-vous des « enthousiastes » de l’Apple II.

Ce que Annick Rivoire, Agnès de Cayeux et moi-même désignons par « reload » est une réactivation, sur du matériel informatique d’époque, du programme « Dialector » écrit par le cinéaste documentariste et artiste multimédia il y a 30 ans. Comme « Dialector » est un programme de conversation avec la machine, nous invitons des volontaires à l’activer puis nous en conservons l’émotion et le dialogue.

Arrivée à Kansas City

Après avoir décollé du Luxembourg en passant par Munich et Philadelphie, j’atterris à Kansas City, « la ville des fontaines ». Dix-sept heures de vol plus tard, je me retrouve trente ans plus tôt sur la ligne du temps informatique.

Dès mon arrivée à l’université de Rockhurst, à peine l’entrée principale franchie, je trébuche sur une montagne d’encombrants informatiques. C’est une sorte de tradition : chaque année de généreux donateurs se séparent de leur collection. C’est une sorte de vide-grenier entre connaisseurs. Cette année Eric se sépare de son matériel avec une note de tristesse parce qu’il n’est pas certain, vu son âge très avancé, de revenir à KansasFest. Chacun se sert selon ses besoins et partage selon ses moyens son patrimoine matériel et sentimental. Je ne rapporterai de cette manne qu’une joystick fonctionnelle, tout le reste étant ou trop volumineux ou incompatible avec les normes électriques européennes.

J’éprouve un étrange sentiment en me retrouvant ici, à 7500 km de chez moi, dans ce lieu improbable, une université jésuite déserte, perdue dans une ville au centre des Etats-Unis, parmi 70 à 80 « attendees » (participants), fervents utilisateurs d’ordinateurs Apple première génération. Je m’interroge : c’est quoi au juste l’obsolescence ? doit-on se résigner à changer de matériel constamment ? et si la résilience à l’innovation était possible ? ici-même, avec Dean, Vince, Andrew et Quin ? Jeunes et vieux, initiés ou débutants, une contre-innovation s’ébauche.

« Apple II for ever »

Résistons aux sirènes de la nouveauté, bye bye Ipod, Iphone et MacBook ! ici c’est « Apple II for ever ! » et tous de s’émerveiller devant un processeur MOS 6502. Il règne une sorte de fébrilité parmi les participants que j’imagine semblable à celle qui animait les concepteurs d’ordinateurs de la fin des années 1970, avant la West Coast Computer Fair de San Francisco. On s’identifie facilement aux deux Steve assemblant leur Apple I dans le garage du père de Jobs : l’esprit « Garage » règne. Une atmosphère informatique davantage bermuda et tee-shirt que costard cravate. Le plus incroyable, c’est que l’aventure continue chaque année, voire se développe (certains se réjouissaient de voir plus de participants en 2014), et apporte son lot de nouveaux logiciels, de nouveaux matériels, de développements les plus fous pour une plate-forme, l’Apple II, dont la production a cessé… il y a plus de 20 ans. Respect !

Ils viennent presque chaque année des quatre coins des États-Unis, du Nebraska, de New York, de Californie, en avion, en voiture, même en camion (plus pratique pour transporter le matériel). La première manifestation s’est déroulée en 1989. A l’époque, Apple se focalise sur le Macintosh en abandonnant les pionniers, le Basic, l’Assembleur et les petites compagnies fabriquant toutes sortes de périphériques électroniques. Un tournant pour la micro informatique : les artisans balayés par l’industrie, et les Apple, Microsoft and co. en nouveaux IBM.

[...]

« Dialector », Chris Marker et les rétrogeeks

KansasFest est le lieu et l’événement rêvé pour reloader « Dialector ». Hormis le saut temporel de 30 ans qui nous situe exactement au moment où le programme a été écrit par Chris Marker, l’environnement anglophone est parfait pour un programme qui parle anglais. Par ailleurs, il n’y a qu’ici, avec tous ces spécialistes en Applesoft Basic et en Apple II, que l’on peut non seulement jouer avec « Dialector » mais encore en analyser toutes les subtilités algorithmiques. Avec Annick et Agnès, nous avons tout fait pour replacer « Dialector » dans son contexte historique et technologique, pour mieux en saisir la force et la pertinence. Ici à KansasFest, c’est le test ultime. Si demain, le programme rencontre le succès, alors Chris Marker méritera, plus que jamais, notre profonde admiration en tant que pionnier de l’art numérique.

À la fin de mon introduction, c’est Sarah qui s’est proposée pour converser avec « Dialector », sur un Apple IIc original –et clavier Qwerty pour une fois. Naturellement, le dialogue s’est animé plus qu’à son habitude, puisque de nombreux jeux de mots ont un rapport direct avec l’esprit des Apple Users de la première heure. Grand éclat de rire lorsque « Computer » (le nom de votre interlocuteur dans « Dialector ») a dit « NEVER TRUST ANYONE OVER 256K » ou « DO YOU PUT A ’K’ ON YOUR SHIRT ? » –de l’humour geek impénétrable pour les non initiés.

Durant toute la présentation, l’audience a parfaitement réagi, par ses questions et ses suggestions, à la qualité artistique de « Dialector » et au sens de l’humour propre à Chris Marker… Mission accomplie quand la « session » « Dialector » s’acheva sous les applaudissements du public.
[...]

Read the rest / lire la suite

Further Reading

Amitié

chris marker photograph aka sandor krasna

Sandor Krasna, Flikr
Amitié | Friendship with the animal kingdom, arguably the source, along with music, of emotional connection in all of Chris Marker’s creations.

For Marker, ‘things that quicken the heart’ always include revered animals, along with music. These are sources of the emotional connection in Chris Marker’s creations, a connection which parallels at a deeper level the intellectual activity of resolving word and image. Emotional emblematics works on the subliminal level so that our minds are expanded while the heart is opened; this emotional symphonics is often only consciously realized later, in the wake of viewing — in the absorption phase. The question has lingered for decades: why do we feel the way we do after watching a Chris Marker film? An image such as this that I call here “Amitié” or “Friendship” specifically with animals may be a clue, an essai… to uncover discover reveal appeal to the emotional power, very unsung, in his films, and alive too, quite alive in his photography as well. With great friendship comes the possibility of great loss. We felt that … we sure did …

Peter Blum Presents Chris Marker ‘Koreans’

Chris Marker Koreans at Peter Blum Gallery

PETER BLUM GALLERY
Blumarts Inc. 20 West 57th Street | www.peterblumgallery.com | New York, NY 10019
art@peterblumgallery.com | Tel 212 244 6055

For Immediate Release:

Chris Marker : Koreans

September 4 — October 18, 2014

Peter Blum is pleased to announce the exhibition Chris Marker: Koreans, which opens on September 4th at 20 West 57th Street, New York.

Chris Marker was one of the last journalists who had the unique opportunity to travel and explore North Korea freely in 1957. The result of these travels was a group of 51 photographs entitled Koreans. This series reflects an uncensored record of daily life in North Korea four years after the end of the devastating war and shortly before the border was closed off.

The essay herewith attached was written by Marker in 2009 conveying his thoughts and observations of this trip to North Korea.

Peter Blum Gallery Koreans Chris Marker

Chris Marker (1921-2012) is one of the most influential and important filmmakers to emerge in the post-war era. Marker appeared on the Paris cultural landscape as a writer and editor and also became identified for his uniquely expressive non-fiction films. Marker garnered international recognition in 1962 with the science-fiction short film La Jetée. In the seventies, Marker created documentaries both on the history of the left (Le Fond de l’air est rouge, 1977) and travel and memory (Sans Soleil, 1982). Marker also produced acclaimed media installations including Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men, shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2005 and presented by Peter Blum at Art Basel Unlimited in 2006, and Silent Movie, 1995. Selected solo exhibitions include: the Whitechapel Gallery, London (retrospective); MIT List Visual Arts Center and Carpenter Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (retrospective); The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (retrospective); Atelier Hermès, Seoul; Les Rencontres d’Arles de la Photographie, Arles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; The Jeu de Paume, Paris; The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; and Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona.

For additional information and photographic material please contact David Blum or Andrea Serbonich at art@peterblumgallery.com.

Chris Marker @ Peter Blum Gallery NYC, Koreans

In 1957, I had the opportunity to join a group of French journalists “invited” to visit North Korea. I would only realize later what a unique opportunity that was. The four years following the war (a conflict soberly described by General Bradley as the “wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy”) had been dedicated mostly to rebuilding a bomb-stricken country, and the formidable propaganda machine that would soon be identified with the sheer mention of North Korea wasn’t yet running at full throttle. We were subjected to a sizable dose of propaganda, but between two obligatory sessions of Socialist kowtowing, our hosts allowed us an amount of free walking unequalled since. Many years later, I could contemplate on television the predicament of a Belgian delegation whose members supplicated their guide to see, at least once, a marketplace -and after having visited the museum in honor of comrade Kim Jong-il, the library with the complete works of comrade Kim Jong-il, the factory that followed the directives of comrade Kim Jong-il, they were finally taken to an empty space outside the city, where a marketplace would be established according to the plans of comrade Kim Jong-il. Watching the image of hopelessness on the faces of the poor wretches made me appreciate even more the liberty I had enjoyed to hang around Pyongyang with my camera and to look everywhere, including marketplaces. Amusingly, the result of those strolls was equally rejected on both sides of the 38th parallel. To the North, a book which never mentioned once the name of Kim Il-sung simply didn’t exist. To the South, the raw fact that it had been allowed to be done in North Korea made it a tool of communist propaganda. That’s how, I was told, it was exhibited in Seoul’s counter-revolutionary museum, and its author introduced as a “Marxist dog”. I didn’t mind. Since Snoopy, the word “dog” has ceased to be an insult in my cats-ruled world. Then Time froze on that country whose culture had fascinated me, as well as the mesmerizing beauty of its women, while the megalomaniac leadership of both Kims had proven a disaster. Many examples of that freeze would appear in the news, the most recent so incredible that it escaped many commentators. When the DPRK (that’s its official name) launched the famous rocket that worried the whole world, the KOREAN NEWS agency published the following communiqué : “The Secretariat of the C.C., the Communist Party of the Soviet Union fully supports the steadfast stand of the Workers’ Party of Korea led by General Secretary Kim Jong Il”. Yes, you read correctly : “Soviet Union”. In 2009. Perhaps nobody ever dared to update comrade Kim Jong-il.
Chris Marker, 2009

Wall, Peter Blum Gallery, New York, Chris Marker Koreans

Installation Views Courtesy of Peter Blum Gallery, New York
Works Courtesy of the Chris Marker Estate and Peter Blum Gallery, New York

BAM Presents Chris Marker Retrospective

Chris Marker at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Sorry for the late notice. I have been staring at my to do list with this extraordinary retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with glazed eyes, hesitating. Hesitate and you’re lost. I was lost. But kudos to those who found their way to BAM for these essential Chris Marker films. Hopefully this note in a bottle will reach land in time for a few to catch the remaining screenings. The last time I was at BAM it was for Terry Riley. What a fantastic memory. Time to make some new ones. Enjoy!

Part of BAMcinématek

A sui generis cinema poet who virtually invented the essay film, French multimedia artist Chris Marker used highly personal collages of moving images, photography, and text to explore weighty themes of time, memory, and political upheaval with a playful wit and a remarkably agile mind. Marxism, time travel, and cartoon cats all co-exist in Marker’s dazzlingly imaginative alternate realities.

This comprehensive retrospective features the North American theatrical premiere of Marker’s 1997 film Level Five, newly restored and playing for one week only.www.bam.org/film/2014/chris-marker

Screenings

  • Prime Time + Sixth Side of the Pentagon + Embassy, Tues. Aug. 26, 2014
  • Bestiary + Les hommes de la baleine + Three Cheers for the Whale, Wed. Aug. 27, 2014
  • The Koumiko Mystery + Matta, Wed., Aug. 27, 2014
  • If I Had 4 Dromedaires + Remembrance of Things to Come, Thu. Aug. 28, 2014

Past Events

  • Level Five
  • Far From Vietnam
  • Le Joli Mai
  • A Letter from Siberia + Sunday in Peking
  • The Battle of the Ten Million
  • 2084 + Be Seeing You + Class of Stuggle
  • La Jetée + Statues Also Die
  • Sans Soleil
  • The Last Bolshevik
  • A Grin Without a Cat
  • Description of a Stuggle + A Valparaíso
  • One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich + The Train Rolls On

About BAM

BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) is a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York. For more than 150 years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas—engaging both global and local communities. With world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.www.bam.org/about

Level Five

Level Five

Marker’s shock-to-the-senses mind-melter concerns a woman (Belkhodja) haunted by the loss of her lover while working on programming a video game about World War II’s Battle of Okinawa. Melding retro-futuristic sci-fi imagery, references to American film noir, and reflections on traumas in Japanese history into a visually and philosophically provocative puzzle, Level Five is a hallucinatory visual essay on memory, tragedy, and early digital culture. Courtesy of Icarus Films.

 

Far From Vietnam

Far From Vietnam
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais | 1967

Marker was the driving force behind this blistering statement of opposition to America’s invasion of Vietnam. Six of Europe’s leading filmmakers mixed found footage, interviews, agitprop, and fictional tableaux (by Godard and Resnais) in this film The New York Times said “could be both the most eloquent and rankling protest film ever made.”

Harun Farocki 1944-2014

Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki was born in 1944 in German-annexed Czechoslovakia. From 1966 to 1968 he attended the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). In addition to teaching posts in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Manila, Munich and Stuttgart, he has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Farocki has made close to 90 films, including three feature films, essay films and documentaries. He has worked in collaboration with other filmmakers as a scriptwriter, actor and producer. In 1976 he staged Heiner Müller’s plays The Battle and Tractor together with Hanns Zischler in Basel, Switzerland.

Since 1966 he has written for numerous publications, and from 1974 to 1984 he was editor and author of the magazine Filmkritik (München). His work has shown in many national and international exhibitions and installations in galleries and museums.

Thanks to Dirk K., who sent the following news and citation. I will have so much more to say, when it is time… Dirk writes:

Harun Farocki died yesterday.

He certainly understood a thing or two about Marker, the modus operandi of Sans Soleil, and its effects:

SANS SOLEIL … has an extraordinary text — a text that emanates from a lifetime’s preoccupation with cinema, as you just sketched it. This text can also be reproduced without the film, by which I do not at all imply that the images in the film are somehow worthless. Rather, the text has had such a strong effect that in some places nobody paid much attention to the images. To give a small example: there is a scene in SANS SOLEIL where the camera accompanies two people visiting a grave. It rushes ahead of them and waits for them at the graveside, just like a television crew would do it, if it had the time and a chance to stage things. Why does the camera rush ahead? — this sort of question has not generated any critical energy. I probably write, or rather: occupy myself with writing, in order to determine the difference between film and text. I want to make films that are not that far removed from texts, and that are nonetheless very distinct.

Harun Farocki: Working on the Sightlines, ed. Thomas Elsaesser. Feb 2014, 180

OK, me again. Here are some preliminary reflections from Germany, France and the US.

Obits & Appreciations

Zum Tode Harun Farockis: Einzelkämpfer gegen die Macht der Bilder
spiegel.de

Harun Farocki, Celebrated Filmmaker, Dead at 70
news.artnet.com

Harun Farocki n’expérimentera plus
next.liberation.fr

Harun Farocki: Der ungeschminkte Blick auf die Realität
zeit.de

Der Filmemacher Harun Farocki ist gestorben
welt.de

Regisseur Harun Farocki tot
spex.de

Watch Harun Farocki Explain His Final Solo Show
news.artnet.com

Further Reading

I will be posting further articles on Farocki as they appear to my Google + page. I will also brush up a dusty article I wrote on Images of the World and the Inscription of War, potentially Farocki’s most prominent essay film.

If you have not read Farocki’s printed essays, a good manual to have is his (regrettably out of print to my knowledge) book Nachdruck/Imprint Texte/Writings, ed. Susanne Gaensheimer, Nicolaus Schafhausen, trans. Laurent Faasch-Ibrahim, assistant ed. Volker Pantenburg, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2001. Most recently, Farocki published Harun Farocki: Diagrams: Images from Ten Films, along with Thomas Elsaesser and Maren Grimm, with Benedikt Reichenbach as editor. He is also co-author with Paul Virilio of the hyper-contemporary Serious Games: War-Media-Art, like Nachdruck/Imprint bi-lingual in English and German.

Soda Pictures Releases 3 DVD Chris Marker Collection in English

Chris Marker Collection, a 3 DVD set of Chris Marker films published to coincide with the Whitechapel exhibition currently running in London, is out! The 3 DVD collection of Chris Marker films was published June 2, 2014 by SODA Film+Art and is now available for purchase. It’s a thrilling addition to Marker’s English-language releases. Without further ado, here are the overall details on the release. We’ll ad some additional images down the road.

Chris Marker Collection DVD set

Contents

BLU-RAY

  • Sunday in Peking (Dimanche á Pékin, 1956, 22 min)
  • Letter From Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958, 62 min)

DVD 1

  • Sunday in Peking (Dimanche á Pékin, 1956, 22 min)
  • Letter From Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958, 62 min)
  • Description of a Struggle (Description d’un combat, 1960, 60 min)

DVD 2

  • The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (La Sixiéme face du Pentagone, 1968, 27 min)
  • The Embassy (L’Ambassade, 1973, 20 min)
  • Theory of Sets (Théorie des ensembles, 1991, 11 min)
  • Three Video Haikus (Trois Vidéo Haikus, 1994, 3 min)
  • Blue Helmet (Casque blue, 1996, 26 min)
  • E-CLIP-SE (1999, 8 min)
  • The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés, 2004, 59 min)

Blu-Ray tech info: Aspect ratio: 4:3 | Running time: 80 mins. approx. | Audio LPCM 2.0 Stereo
Language English/French with English subtitles S| Region B | Colour | 1080p | 24fps

DVD Tech info: Aspect ratio: 4:3 | DVD 1 Running time: 134 mins. approx. | DVD2 Running time: 154 mins. approx. | PAL
Language English/French with English subtitles | Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Sterio | Region 2 | 1080p | 24fps

Chris Marker Collection - interior

Passion for Words, Madness for Images

This collection of Chris Marker films consists of three works that pre-date La Jetée, the featurette that firmly planted his name as a filmmaker, as well as a series of seven shorter films that span each decade of his career thereafter. These remarkable curios reveal much about him, his ideas and his visuality, as well as his take on the modern world from an artistic point-of-view – from China, Siberia and Israel in the 1950s to the Pentagon, art collectives, cheshire cats, haikus and early new media.

Released in conjunction with a major exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London, and with a new piece by writer and curator Chris Darke (Rediscovering Chris Marker), alongside a seminal early piece by Roger Tailleur (Markeriana: A Scarcely Critical Description of the Work of Chris Marker).

Chris Marker Collection DVD 1 - Pentagon

About Soda Film + Art

Soda Film + Art (SoFA) is an international agency that focuses on visual artists working in feature filmmaking. It operates at the nexus of film and art, and acts as a centralised bureau for development, production, sales, distribution and exhibition support. SoFA also has a collectable DVD label, with bespoke packaging that is unique to each title and artist vision, but together forms a cohesive library – and ultimately an overview of what’s happening in art + film today.www.sodafilmart.com

Purchase: sodapictures.squarespace.com

Rediscovering Chris Marker

By 2002, it was evidently no longer enough to describe Marker simply as a ‘filmmaker'; cinema was merely one of the forms into which this prolific artist had channelled his protean creativity. When Marker died in July 2012, aged 91, he left behind an utterly singular body of work. From his first appearance in print as an author in 1946 to his final film, a 60-second ‘trailer’ for the 2012 Vienna film festival, his oeuvre spanned over 65 years and was remarkable in its scope. He designed and edited books, published journalism and essays, as well as a novel and short stories. As a visual artist, he was an accomplished photographer, cartoonist, and multimedia practitioner. But he remains best remembered as a filmmaker, with more than forty-five titles to his name and over thirty more as a commentary-writer or editor.
Chris Darke, "Rediscovering Chris Marker", Chris Marker Collection booklet, 5

Rare Chris Marker Post-War Memory Published

music memoryI just published a text sent by Chris Darke, who has seen to its translation and encouraged its publication here, for which I am profoundly grateful. The text is one Marker wrote at the request of Jean-Jacques Birgé, answering the question Images gravitate around music. Which has marked you the most? You can find the text as An Image Just Appeared by Chris Marker.

The text shows the remarkable blend of keen memory, eye for emblematic images, and historical consciousness that we find inscribed in many of Marker’s films and installations (Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men comes to mind, for one). Once again, as in Sans Soleil, the wounds of history meet the compassionate gaze of memory. En plus, the text reminds us of Marker’s deep attachment to music – in this case, jazz. It is an attachment that works subliminally in many of his films to deepen the emotional reach of the projection and audition for the spectator. It’s what made Chat écoutant la musique possible: another treasure of memory and music.

In prefacing his remarks, Marker hints at how large ‘memory’ can become – stretching space and time like an expanding universe, an impossible architecture – within a single lifetime.

The image below is of one of the ships that Marker references in this memory text.

Exodus

Happy Birthday Tom Luddy

Tom LuddyHappy Birthday Tom LuddyHappy Birthday wishes go out today to Tom Luddy, longtime Chris Marker friend, director of the Telluride Film Festival, longtime director of the Pacific Film Archive, and a man well worth knowing. Tom’s been a trusted supporter of this site, and has helped answer many questions – my own and others’ – on Marker’s films. When I first met Tom, he let me sit in Sean Penn’s office to view some Marker VHS tapes. I was dumbstruck. I was happy. As we walked to North Beach in San Francisco to find the best espresso ever, he talked of ‘Chris’, of Sans Soleil, of Junkopia, of Tarkovsky, of beings I perhaps did not believe really existed, much less had friendships and drank coffee, slept and got up the next morning. He handed me one of the first books on Chris Marker, a gift. Marker had no use for it, as a small note inside stated. Tom also introduced me to Dorna K., for which I am also eternally grateful – another masterful being. They are real. They have birthdays. A happy one to you Tom!

Here’s an interesting trace of Marker and Luddy.

As you probably know Chris did not make public appearances as a rule, and tried to prevent anyone taking a picture of him too. We were friends and I had also assisted him on three films: “San Soleil,” “The Owl’s Legacy” and “Junktopia.”

I persuaded him to come to Telluride… this was l987. We showed “La Jetee” and “San Soleil.” He would not appear before or after the film inside the theatre — The Sheridan Opera House — but I was allowed to tell the audience that he would be outside on the grass after the film and people could speak to him informally and this happened then, and throughout the weekend with people walking up to him for a chat. Even though he said NO PICTURES, someone did take this picture surreptitiously.Tom Luddy

Telluride Chris Marker at invitation of Tom Luddy

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