Category Archives: Exhibitions

Ghost Cat: Postcards + Exhibitions

cm-postcard-cimitiere-chat

Card 5 of 15
Roma, 1956

Chris Marker, Image from Staring Back
May 12-August 12, 2007
Exhibition organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Ohio State University

FYI, there are two postcard sets by Chris Marker that I know of. This set is from Wexner and is, I believe, out of print.

The other is Chris Marker, How a grinning cat visits the HISTORY OF ART, 10 Postcards, Peter Blum Editions. This production, to my knowledge, is also no longer available. I’ll see if I can get them into a gallery here soon, as they are replete with classic Markerian wit and digital détournement.

While the cards are not to be found on the Peter Blum site (peterblumgallery.com), it is well worth exploring the whole Chris Marker section, which includes Images, Exhibitions, Books, Press and Biography pages – the last containing a filmography, bibliographies, exhibition lists and more. The Biography section includes an exhaustive listing of Chris Marker exhibitions that I have yet to see appear on traditional filmographies or bibliographies:

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2014

“Koreans”, Peter Blum Gallery, New York

“Crow’s Eye View: the Korean Peninsula”, Korean Pavilion, Giardini di Castello, Venice, Italy

“Chris Marker: A Grin Without a Cat”, Whitechapel Gallery, London, England; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, October 21, 2014 – January 11, 2015; Lunds Konsthall, Lund, February 7 – April 5, 2015

“The Hollow Men,” City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

2013

“Chris Marker: Guillaume-en-Égypte”, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA & the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

“Memory of a Certain Time”, ScotiaBank, Toronto, Canada

“Chris Marker”, Atelier Hermès, Seoul, South Korea

The “Planète Marker”, Centre de Pompidou, Paris

2012

“Chris Marker: Films and Photos”, Moscow Photobiennale, Moscow, Russia

2011

“PASSENGERS”, Peter Blum Gallery Chelsea / Peter Blum Gallery Soho, New York, New York

Les Rencontres d’Arles de la Photographie, Arles, France

“PASSENGERS”, Centre de la Photographie, Geneva, Switzerland

Thinking Hands, Beijing, China

2009

“Quelle heure est-elle?”, Peter Blum Gallery Chelsea, New York, New York

“Second Life” (May 16 a one night event), Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Chris Marker: Par quatre chemins”, Beirut Art Center, Lebanon

2008

“Abschied vom Kino / Farewell to Movies”, Museum fur Gegenwartkunst, Zurich, Switzerland

“Abschied vom Kino / A Farewell to Movies”, virtual museum, Second Life

Un Choix de Photographies, Galerie de France, Paris, France

2007

“Staring Back,” Peter Blum Gallery, New York, New York

“Staring Back”, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

“The Case of the Grinning Cat”, Film Forum, New York, New York

“Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men”, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia

2006

“The Hollow Men,” Dazibao Centre de Photographies Actuelles, Montreal, Canada

“The Hollow Men”,Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto, Canada

2005

“Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

“Through the Eyes of Chris Marker”, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, China

“Through the Eyes of Chris Marker”, Macao Cultural Centre, Macao, China

2003

“Rare Videos by Chris Marker,” Anthology Film Archives, New York, New York

2002

“Chris Marker”, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

1999

“Silent Movie and Selected Screenings”,Beaconsfield, London, England

“Chris Marker”, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain

“Chris Marker”, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain

1997

“Immemory One,” Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

1996

“Silent Movie,” Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

1995

“Silent Movie”, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

“Silent Movie”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

“Silent Movie”, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California

Peter Blum Gallery, Chris Marker, Exhibitions – Download PDF

Pompidou Planète Marker Video Archive

It’s been a great pleasure, having been unable to attend the Centre Pompidou’s 2013 Chris Marker exhibition and retrospective, to witness the appearance on Daily Motion of videos of the talks that were held, as well as a wonderfully edited overall / intro video that emerges us in Marker’s visual world. While a longer post is in progress on the series and the practice of video archiving, I did want to present the intro video first, as a kind of teaser and work of art unto itself.

Planète Marker – du 16 octobre 2013 au 22 décembre 2013


Planète Marker – du 16 octobre 2013 au 22… by centrepompidou

Par Raymond Bellour, écrivain et théoricien de cinéma.
Le Centre Pompidou et la Bibliothèque publique d’information (Bpi) rendent hommage à Chris Marker, à travers ses films bien sûr mais aussi en suivant la piste de ses inspirations, de ses amitiés et de ses rencontres… Au coeur de ce voyage, l’exposition de ses installations et des oeuvres multimédias rassemblées dans la collection du Centre Pompidou, ses films et vidéos et un salon de lecture à la Bpi.dailymotion.com/video | Centre Pompidou channel

Chris Marker Exhibition Opens in Oslo

Chris Marker TBD

Kunstnernes Hus Chris Marker Exhibition

Chris Marker: A Grin Without a Cat

31 October 2014 – 11 January 2015

Opening Friday, 31 October 2014, 7pm.

Opening speech by Christine Van Assche, Curator at Large at Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Artistic Director, Mats Stjernstedt

Guided tour in the exhibition on Saturday, 1 November, 2 pm, by Christine Van Assche and Mats Stjernstedt

Kunstnernes Hus presents the first Scandinavian retrospective of visionary French filmmaker, photographer, writer and multimedia artist Chris Marker (1921 – 2012). His films lace realism with science fiction and lyricism with politics. Changing his name, declining to be photographed or interviewed, Marker is both enigma and legend. His influence extends across art, experimental film and mainstream cinema.

Marker is widely acknowledged as the finest exponent of the essay film and is known as the director of over 60 films, including Sans soleil (Sunless, 1983) and A Grin Without a Cat (Le Fond de l’air est rouge, 1977). His most celebrated work La Jetée (The Pier, 1962) imagines a Paris devastated by nuclear catastrophe and is composed almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs, which informed the narrative of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995).

Marker was an inveterate traveler – his camera was his eye. His astonishing range of images can encompass a temple in Tokyo devoted to cats, to frozen flowers in a Siberian science station. Marker pictures our cultural rituals, ancient and modern – visiting a shrine, playing videogames, protesting on the streets. He splices his images with found footage, including fragments of movies, cartoons, ads, and news reels. Musical scores are interwoven with the noises of everyday life; haunting commentaries are narrated as if from the future, meditating on history and memory.

Darkness also underlines Marker’s portrayal of planetary cultures – memories of war ravaged France, the brutalities of colonialism, the failures of revolution.

A Grin Without a Cat is co-curated by Christine Van Assche, Curator at Large, Centre Pompidou, Paris, writer and film critic Chris Darke, and Magnus af Petersens, Curator at Large, Whitechapel Gallery/Curator, Moderna Museet. The exhibition tours to Lund Konsthall in 2015.

The exhibition is organized by Whitechapel Gallery.
Kunstnernes Hus

Kunsternes Hus

Kunstnernes Hus er en av Norges vakreste bygninger og et av de tidligste eksempel på norsk funksjonalisme. Huset har en spennende historie som et sentralt visningssted for norsk og internasjonal samtidskunst. Foruten faste utstillinger og en flott matservering med utsikt over Slottsparken kan vi tilby ulike arrangement både på dag- og kveldstid.

The Kunsternes Hus (Artists’ House) is one of Norway’s most beautiful buildings, and one of the earliest example of Norwegian functionalism. The House has an interesting history as a central viewing place for Norwegian and international contemporary art. In addition to permanent exhibitions and great on-site dining facilities with views of the Palace Gardens, we can offer various events both on the day and evening time.

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

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

A Grin Without a Cat – Whitechapel Catalogue Arrives

The Whitechapel catalogue has arrived. It is a wonderful work of art and scholarship. For now, here is a scan of the cover along with the table of contents, plus a pdf of front and back covers and a link to Whitechapel’s shop.

Chris Marker, A Grin Without a Cat, Whitechapel Catalogue

Table of Contents

  • Forward by Magnus af Petersens and Iwona Blazwick
  • Chris Marker, the Time of the World by Christine Van Assche
  • Statues Also Die: THE MUSEUM
  • Petite Planète: TRAVELOGUES
  • At the Sign of the Black Cat by Chris Darke
  • Memories of Things to Come: THE FUTURE-PAST OF FILM
  • La Jetée by Nicola Mazzanti
  • Marker Forever by Raymond Bellour
  • Image (journey) by Arnaud Lambert
  • When the Century Took Shape: WAR AND REVOLUTION
  • Quand le siècle a pris formes by Christine Van Assche
  • Orphée by Chris Marker
  • Till The End of Time by Chris Marker
  • List of works
  • Filmography, multimedia and installations, bibliography, exhibitions
  • Acknowledgements

You can download a pdf of both front and back covers.

For purchase information, you can access the Whitechapel online store, Chris Marker, Grin Without a Cat. [link updated 6/2015]

Marker worked as a journalist, essayist and editor before becoming a filmmaker as part of the so-called Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) in the late 1950s. He is often given credit for renewing cinema, not least for his innovations in the genre of the ‘essay-film’, a hybrid of documentary and personal reflection and the style in which he became an acknowledged master. Such hybridity and restless crossing between media and forms were emblematic for Marker. His work is poetic and humorous, analytical, political and philosophical, a reflection of the complexity of the world. This exhibition shows him as a multifaceted artist and intellectual, working as an editor, writer, filmmaker, photographer and pioneer of new media and installation art. In many ways it is his way of working – as much as the result of that work – that has been such an inspiration to younger generations of artists.Magnus af Petersens, Curator at Large Iwona Blazwick, Director

Whitechapel Catalogue - Back Cover

Curating Chris Marker: The Word & The Image

Appearing in the Whitechappel channel on Youtube, the following video was just released and gives an excellent overview of the architecture of the exhibition, modeled on the play of image and text that pervades all of Marker’s creations. One learns from the curators’ reflections how the exhibition was designed to cover in this manner all aspects of the multifarious makings of the maker Chris Marker. Well, that’s quite a mouthful already, so without further ado, thanks to Christine van Assche and Chris Darke (both of whom have been fabulous supporters of this site as well), and on with the show.

As a reminder, you can find more details and some added photographs on the Whitechapel press release post. As the press release states:

Chris Marker is co-curated by Christine van Assche, Chief Curator, Centre Pompidou, Paris, writer and film critic Chris Darke, and Whitechapel Gallery Chief Curator Magnus Af Petersens.

Christina van Assche and Chris Darke

Christina van Assche & Chris Darke,
courtesy Dutch Girl in Londonrecommended

Chris Marker Whitechapel Retrospective – Press Release

Post updated 4.30.14 with exhibition photographs

Chris Marker

16 April – 22 June 2014, Galleries 1, 8 & Victor Petitgas Gallery (Gallery 9)

Admission Free

whitechapel-thehappinessgirlThe Whitechapel Gallery presents the first UK retrospective of visionary French filmmaker, photographer, writer and multimedia artist Chris Marker (1921 – 2012).

Marker is widely acknowledged as the finest exponent of the ‘essay film’ and is best known as the director of over 60 films including Sans soleil (Sunless, 1983) and A Grin Without a Cat (Le Fond de l’air est rouge, 1977). His most celebrated work La Jetée (The Pier, 1962) imagines a Paris devastated by nuclear catastrophe and is composed almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs, which informed the narrative of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995) and influenced James Cameron’s Terminator (1984).

The Whitechapel Gallery will be filled with Chris Marker’s extraordinary films and photographs. Highlights include all five of Marker’s multi-media installations shown together for the first time, rarely seen photographs, and a newly re-mastered edition of Le Joli Mai (1963), which romantically describes Paris via interviews with people in the street, interspersed with a commentary ranging from the number of hours of sunshine in May to the amount of meat and potatoes eaten by the city’s population each month.

The exhibition follows key themes in Marker’s work: the Museum, Travel, Image & Text, and War & Revolution. The first space will be saturated with colour and dominated by two huge screens, cinema spaces and photographs. Visitors entering the Gallery will see a large projection of Ouvroir: the Movie (2010), Marker’s guided tour of the virtual museum he created on the website Second Life via his online avatar, a cat called Guillame-en-Eqypte, along with films and multi-media installations.

The next section presents the people and places Chris Marker encountered on his lifetime of travels, with an extract from the iconic film Sans soleil (1983), which reflects on memory, images and technology and is told via letters from an anonymous woman to a cameraman, with shots flitting back and forth across the world from Japan to Guinea-Bissau in Africa. This part of the display also includes Petite Planète (1954 – 58), a series of books by Marker with texts, illustrations, graphics and photographs of countries which inspired his first ‘photo essays’, plus the UK premiere of multi-media installation Zapping Zone (Proposal for an Imaginary Television, 1990 – 94).

A rare version of Chris Marker’s masterpiece La Jetée (1962) with an alternative opening sequence is shown in a dedicated gallery. The exhibition continues with a section looking at the theme of war and revolution, engaging with anti-war movements from the Vietnam War in the 1960s to the Iraq War in 2003. It includes extracts from two films shot in Paris, Le Joli Mai (1963), relating to the Algerian War of Independence in the 1950s and 60s and Chats Perchés (The Case of the Grinning Cat, 2004), where Marker interviews anonymous passersby to record their everyday life. Other works are the photographic series Staring back (1952 – 2006) and installation OWLS AT NOON Prelude: The Hollow Men (2005) which is based on a T.S. Eliot poem. The exhibition ends with one of Marker’s most political films about the failure of idealistic social movements and revolutions in the 1960s, Le fond de l’air est rouge (1977) which was reedited and released as A Grin without a Cat in 1993.

owls-at-noon

Owls at Noon

This important exhibition looks at Marker’s prolific career and considers his influence on contemporary British art and artists. Alongside the show, film screenings will take place at the Gallery, with work by filmmakers Duncan Campbell, Filipa Cesar and Manu Luksch, the Barbican and Ciné Lumière at the Institut Français. Talks addressing the themes of the exhibition are made in collaboration with Roehampton University and the AHRC-funded research project The Memory Network.

Notes

  • Chris Marker (1921 – 2012), born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve in Paris, was a prescient multi-media filmmaker, exploring the future through both digital art and via his numerous online avatars on websites such as Second Life. He was also a writer, editor, poet, cartoonist, and activist. Marker completed his first feature film Olympia 52 in 1952 and went on to direct over 60 films. Notoriously reclusive, he rarely gave interviews and refused to be photographed. A friend recalled that his Paris apartment had several televisions switched on, one with a direct satellite feed from Russia, and late in life he had glasses with a miniature camera so he could ride the Metro and photograph people. A great lover of cats, when asked for a photograph of himself he would send a picture of a cat. In his later life he adopted the online persona of an orange-and-black cartoon cat named ‘Guillaume-en-Egypte’. Chris Marker has been the subject of many solo exhibitions around the world, including Chris Marker: Retrospective at the Rencontres d’Arles de la Photographie, France (2011), Planète Marker, Centre Pompidou (2013), and Chris Marker: Guillaume-en-Egypte, MIT/Harvard (2013). The Whitechapel Gallery presentation is the first retrospective of his work in the UK.
  • Chris Marker is co-curated by Christine van Assche, Chief Curator, Centre Pompidou, Paris, writer and film critic Chris Darke, and Whitechapel Gallery Chief Curator Magnus Af Petersens.
  • Chris Marker will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. It includes key essays by the curators; texts by critics Raymond Bellour and Arnaud Lambert; plus the first English translations of two key early writings by Marker, an essay on Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée (1950) and his short story Till the End of Time (1947), which takes place the day after VJ day amidst a torrential rainstorm and features a demobilised soldier subject to apocalyptic visions, anticipating Marker’s most famous film, La Jetée (1962).

Visitor Information

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm, Thursdays, 11am – 9pm. Free.
Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Nearest London Underground Station: Aldgate East, Liverpool Street, Tower Gateway
DLR. T + 44 (0) 20 7522 7888
info@whitechapelgallery.org

whitechapelgallery.org

Press Information

For further press information and images please contact:
Rachel Mapplebeck, Head of Communications, on 0207 522 7880 or email RachelMapplebeck@whitechapelgallery.org
Alex O’Neill, Press Officer, on 020 7539 3360 or email AlexONeill@whitechapelgallery.org

Exhibition Photos

Courtesy Christine van Assche

Whitechapel Photo by Christine van Assche

Whitechapel Photo by Christine van Assche

Whitechapel Photo by Christine van Assche

Whitechapel Photo by Christine van Assche

Whitechapel Photo by Christine van Assche

Marker Retrospective @ Whitechapel

jeteefinaleThe Whitechapel Gallery on High Street in London has announced the following Chris Marker retrospective:

Chris Marker 16 April – 22 June 2014, Galleries 1, 8 & Victor Petitgas Gallery (Gallery 9). Visionary French filmmaker, photographer, writer and artist Chris Marker (1921 – 2012) is widely acknowledged as the finest exponent of the ‘essay film’. He is best known as the director of over 50 films including Sans soleil (Sunless , 1983), A Grin Without a Cat (1977) and for his most influential work La Jetée (The Pier, 1962), imagining a Paris devastated by nuclear catastrophe and composed almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs, which later informed the narrative of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995). He was a prescient multi-media maker, exploring the future through both digital art and via his numerous online avatars. This important exhibition – his first UK retrospective – looks at Marker’s prolific career and considers his influence on contemporary British art and artists. Curated by Chris Darke and Christine van Assche.

Thanks to Chris Darke, I now have a pdf focused on the retrospective that goes into a lot more detail. So I’ll be updating this post again to reflect that; in the meantime, here’s a link:
The Press Release PDF is here.

About Whitechapel Gallery

Designed in a distinctive Arts and Crafts architecture style by Charles Harrison Townsend, the Whitechapel, Britain’s first purpose-built arts gallery, is renowned both for the beauty of its light, airy space and for embracing the local community in its work. Founded in 1901, extensive refurbishment saw the gallery, reopened in April 2009, double in size.

london-map-whitechapel

Planète Marker Coming to Centre Pompidou

About Raymond Bellour

Centre PompidouThe introduction to Chris Marker for the Planète Marker exhibition & film screenings opening on October 16th at the Centre Pompidou, reprinted below, bears the signature of Raymond Bellour—in my opinion the greatest commentator on Marker, and certainly among the most innovative film theorists of our time. Bellour is the co-author, with Laurent Roth, of the excellent book Qu’est-ce qu’une Madeleine?: A propos du CD-ROM Immemory de Chris Marker. Bellour is also the co-author, with Adrian Martin, of Chris Marker: Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men.

The English version of the Petite Planète essay is followed by the original French version. I’ve also uploaded a large image of the book covers poster (produced by Wexner Center for the Arts) of the Petite Planète series Marker edited at Seuil, from which this exhibition finds its title, as Bellour notes.

Bellour’s essential work on cinema, video, corporeality, self-portrait and the essay form continually draws on Marker’s work and that of Gilles Deleuze for inspiration, and can be found in the following extraordinary books that form a kind of trilogy of deep cinematic investigation and conceptual artistry:

  1. Bellour, Raymond. L’Entre-Images. Photo. Cinéma. Vidéo. Paris: La Différence, 1990.
  2. Bellour, Raymond. L’Entre-Images 2: Mots, Images. Paris P.O.L, 1999.
  3. Bellour, Raymond. Le Corps du Cinéma: hypnoses, émotions, animalités. Paris: P.O.L., 2009.

Thankfully, L’Entre-images has at long last been translated to English. It is due to come out on in two weeks, on the 15th of October. Here’s the Amazon link for Between the Images, published by JRP|Ringier. A Spanish translation is also available.

Special thanks to Etienne Sandrin for sending the press materials our way.

planetemarker

The ‘Planète Marker’

Exposition Website: https://www.centrepompidou.fr/cpv/…
Exposition Brochure Download (PDF): Chris_Marker_Planète-Marker-Pompidou.pdf

Curation: DDC / Les cinémas, S. Pras, MnamCci / Nouveaux médias, C. Van Assche, BPI / Comprendre, A. Alliguié
Programming: Judith Revault d’Allones, Etienne Sandrin, Florence Verdeille

Update: Dossier pédagogique Planète Marker: https://mediation.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ENS-chrismarker/

Expositions
16 October 2013 – 16 December 2013
from 11h00 to 21h00
Foyer – Centre Pompidou, Paris

pompidou-grounds-building-med

By Raymond Bellour, film writer and theoretician

The Centre Pompidou and the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information (BPI) are paying tribute to Chris Marker, not only through his films, it goes without saying, but also by exploring the path of his inspirations, friendships and encounters. At the heart of this journey, the exhibition includes installations and multimedia works from the Centre Pompidou collection, together with his films and videos, and a reading room at the BPI.

Raymond Bellour takes us through the ‘Planète Marker’ :

‘There are ‘century-class men’ and ‘world-class men’ – and Chris Marker was one of them. He was born in 1921, shortly after the First World War, ‘the founding moment of the last century, and its source’ (he devoted his 2005 video installation The Hollow Men to it), and was very much involved in the Second, starting off as a member of the Resistance, then enlisting in the American army. Chris Marker lived in a world haunted by the fear of a Third World War, which he looks forward to in his most famous film, La Jetée, the first film composed (almost) solely of still images, haunted by phantoms of the world of concentration camps.

Chris Marker was a photographer throughout his life, and started out as a poet, novelist, essayist, literary/ film critic and editor at the Éditions du Seuil, where he invented the Petite Planète illustrated critical guide collection. He became a film-maker in the early Fifties with a film on the Helsinki Olympic Games, and collaborated with Alain Resnais for Les statues meurent aussi, a documentary essay on Black Art and colonialism long banned by the censor. Marker went on to make at least fifty films in all formats: feature-length, short, very short, and very long. And under various pseudonyms, or more or less anonymously, he generously contributed to many other films by friends and colleagues. All his films have a constant political commitment in common, a tireless, encyclopaedic curiosity for all forms of reality and culture, and an unfailing love of animals, especially cats. He turned his cat, Guillaume-en-Égypte, into an avatar who served as his spokesman, from the creation of his CD-Rom Immemory, 1997-1998, right up to the virtual archipelago he later invented for himself in ‘Second Life’.

But above all, to construct his films, Chris Marker came up with a unique way of relating the texts he ceaselessly wrote with the images he collected throughout the world – both images shot from life and excerpts from multiple archives. André Bazin, in his commentary on Lettre de Sibérie (1957), called this ‘horizontal editing’ in order to describe the way he felt Marker edited his images: not shot-by-shot so much as ‘laterally, in a way, to what is being said about them’. The result was an inseparable meld: a primordial condition for this form of subjective essay. Marker was one of the great inventors of this genre – perhaps the greatest, continually subjecting the documentary approach to the fictional part that enabled him to develop his thread, while always talking to the ‘other’ – his virtual reader/viewer – as though to a fully alive being.

michaux

Henri Michaux

Two descriptions seem to truly pinpoint this singular identity called Chris Marker (originally Christian-François Bouche-Villeneuve). The first is so legendary that its precise reference is lost. It comes from Henri Michaux, the writer to whom Marker was probably the closest; in fact his work is sprinkled with signs that he borrowed from him in a more or less recognisable manner. Michaux was also the model for Marker’s legendary discretion, and his concern to preserve himself as much as was humanly possible from any kind of publicity, and any consent to the media society. Michaux said, ‘The Sorbonne should be pulled down and Chris Marker set up in its place.’ The suggestion here is, for example, that L’Héritage de la chouette, Marker’s television series of thirteen 26-minute episodes on the culture of Ancient Greece, should feature on the curriculum of all French schools. The second description comes from Alain Resnais, in an interview in (almost) the first special issue of a review dedicated to Marker in 1963. Resnais attributed to a Chris Marker apparently little satisfied with the idea of the review the words he imagined he would use to evade any kind of obligation: ‘… I am a free man, and I only want to do what I like.’ But, emphasising how much he felt his friend’s work should be studied, Resnais said at the end of the interview: ‘We talk about the Leonardo da Vinci method; perhaps we shall soon be talking about the Chris Marker method. I would even go as far as to say that Marker is superior to Leonardo, because Marker always follows everything he starts right through.’

This stresses the unique character as well as the importance of his work, which became evident very early on, and which went on developing according to an essentially exploratory curiosity, as history turned up yet another surprise. And he was always right up to date with the technological changes that could cause shifts in an endlessly reinvented relationship between words and images. With books albums, photos, films, videos, installations, CD-Roms and the Internet, Marker’s work continually explored every medium, inspiring an ever-increasing number of film directors and artists all over the world – up until his sudden death, barely a year ago, on the day he reached 91. So this is everything the ‘Planète Marker’ event would like to celebrate, faithful to the spirit of the book collection through which he once helped to transform French publishing.’

Planète Marker

Expositions

16 octobre 2013 – 16 décembre 2013
de 11h00 à 21h00
Foyer – Centre Pompidou, Paris

Exposition Forum – 1 (commissaire; C Van Assche)
Salon de lecture (Bibilothèque. 1er étage. Arlette Aliguié et Florence Verdeille).
Ensuite un programme rétrospective de films et vidéos programmée par Sylvie Pras, avec Judith Revault d’Allonnes, Etienne Sandrin, Florence Verdeille.
L’exposition est jusqu’au 16 décembre, le programme jusqu’au 20 décembre.

Entrée libre / Dans la mesure des places disponibles

Par Raymond Bellour, écrivain et théoricien de cinéma

Le Centre Pompidou et la Bibliothèque publique d’information (Bpi) rendent hommage à Chris Marker, à travers ses films bien sûr mais aussi en suivant la piste de ses inspirations, de ses amitiés et de ses rencontres… Au coeur de ce voyage, l’exposition de ses installations et des oeuvres multimédias rassemblées dans la collection du Centre Pompidou, ses films et vidéos et un salon de lecture à la Bpi.

Raymond Bellour parcourt pour nous la Planète Marker :

« Il y a des hommes-siècles, des hommes-mondes. Chris Marker fut un de ces hommes. Né en 1921, peu après la Première Guerre mondiale, « le moment fondateur du siècle dernier, sa source » (il lui consacrera en 2005 son installation vidéo The Hollow Men), pleinement acteur de la Seconde (résistant, puis engagé dans l’armée américaine), Chris Marker aura vécu dans la hantise de la Troisième Guerre mondiale dont il a projeté l’image dans son film le plus célèbre, La Jetée, le premier film sans doute composé (quasi) uniquement d’images fixes, hanté par les fantômes de l’univers concentrationnaire.

Photographe sa vie durant, et d’abord écrivain, poète, romancier, essayiste, critique (littéraire et cinématographique), directeur éditorial au Seuil où il invente la collection de guides critiques illustrés « Petite Planète », Chris Marker devint cinéaste au début des années 1950 avec un film sur les Jeux olympiques d’Helsinki et en collaborant avec Alain Resnais pour Les statues meurent aussi, essai documentaire sur l’art nègre et le colonialisme, longtemps interdit par la censure. Depuis, Marker a réalisé une cinquantaine de films au moins, de tous formats, des longs, des courts, des très courts, des très longs. Et il a collaboré amicalement, sous divers pseudonymes comme plus ou moins anonymement, à un nombre considérable d’autres films de divers amis et complices. Tous ses films ont en commun un engagement politique constant ; une curiosité encyclopédique inlassable pour toutes les formes de la réalité et de la culture ; un amour indéfectible des animaux et avant tout des chats (il a ainsi transfiguré son chat, Guillaume-en-Égypte, en un intercesseur qui lui sert de porte-parole depuis la création de son CDRom Immemory, 1997-1998, et jusque dans l’archipel virtuel qu’il s’est plus tard aménagé sur « Second Life »).

Mais, surtout, Chris Marker a inventé une façon unique de rapporter les textes qu’il ne cesse d’écrire pour ses films aux images qu’il a recueillies à travers le monde afin de les construire (images captées dans la réalité aussi bien qu’extraites de multiples archives). C’est ce qu’André Bazin, commentant Lettre de Sibérie (1957), appelait « montage horizontal » afin de saisir la façon dont Marker lui semblait monter ses images, plus que de plan à plan, « latéralement en quelque sorte à ce qui en est dit ». De sorte à créer un mixte indissociable, condition primordiale de cette forme de l’essai subjectif dont Marker a été l’un des grands inventeurs, peut-être le plus grand, soumettant ainsi continuellement la réflexion documentaire à la part de fiction qui lui permet de s’élaborer en toujours s’adressant à l’autre, son lecteur-spectateur virtuel, comme à un être pleinement vivant.

tokyoga-cm-eye

Chris Marker, still from Wim Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga, Zone-ified

Deux formulations semblent cerner au mieux cette identité singulière qui a nom Chris Marker (ainsi s’est transformé son nom de Christian-François Bouche-Villeneuve). La première est devenue mythique au point que sa référence précise fait défaut. Elle est due à Henri Michaux, l’écrivain dont Marker a sans doute été le plus proche, tant son oeuvre est parsemée de signes qu’il lui emprunte de façon plus ou moins reconnaissable. Michaux a aussi été son modèle pour sa discrétion légendaire, son souci de se préserver autant qu’il est humainement possible de toute forme de publicité et de consentement à la société médiatique. Michaux disait ainsi : « Il faudrait raser la Sorbonne et mettre Chris Marker à la place ». C’est supposer par exemple que L’Héritage de la chouette, série télévisée de 13 fois 26 minutes consacrée par Marker à la culture de la Grèce antique, devrait figurer au programme de toutes les écoles de France. La seconde formulation est due à Alain Resnais, dans un entretien figurant dans le (presque) premier numéro spécial de revue consacré à Marker en 1963. Resnais lui prêtait, apparemment peu satisfait de l’idée, les mots par lesquels il l’imaginait vouloir se soustraire à toute forme d’obligation : « … je suis un homme libre et je ne veux faire que ce qui me plaît ». Mais, soulignant à quel point il lui semblait nécessaire d’étudier l’oeuvre de son ami, Resnais avançait en fin d’entretien : « On dit : la méthode de Léonard de Vinci ; peut-être que bientôt on pourra dire : la méthode de Chris Marker. J’aurais même tendance à dire que Marker est plus fort que Léonard de Vinci, car Marker, lui, va toujours au bout de ce qu’il entreprend. »

C’était dire le caractère unique en même temps que l’importance très tôt entrevue de son oeuvre qui n’a cessé de se développer au gré d’une curiosité essentiellement voyageuse, au rythme des soubresauts de l’histoire et toujours à la pointe des mutations technologiques susceptibles de déplacer un rapport sans cesse réinventé entre les mots et les images. Livre, album, photo, film, vidéo, installation, CD-Rom, Internet, cette oeuvre Marker aura tout traversé, continuellement, inspirant un nombre toujours plus grand de cinéastes et d’artistes à travers le monde. Jusqu’à sa mort soudaine, il y un an à peine, le jour de ses 91 ans. Voilà tout ce que, fidèle à l’esprit de la collection de livres par laquelle il a autrefois contribué à transformer l’édition française, l’événement « Planète Marker » voudrait célébrer. »

Cette manifestation est organisée par le Département du développement culturel, le Musée national d’Art Moderne du Centre Pompidou et la Bibliothèque Publique d’Information dans le cadre du Festival d’Automne à Paris.

En collaboration avec le Mois du film documentaire

Commissaire : DDC / Les cinémas, S. Pras, MnamCci / Nouveaux médias, C. Van Assche, BPI / Comprendre, A. Alliguié


RETROSPECTIVE PLANETE MARKER – Bande-annonce VF by CoteCine

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