Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

MIT List Visual Arts Center Presents Chris Marker: Guillaume-en-Égypte


PRESS RELEASE | Contact: Mark Linga, Public Relations Officer, 617-452-3586 mlinga [at]

Hayden, Reference, Bakalar Galleries
October 18, 2013-January 5, 2014

guillaume-en-egypte-MIT-exhibitSeptember 2013 (Cambridge, MA)—The MIT List Visual Arts Center presents Chris Marker: Guillaume-en-Égypte, a survey exhibition of the work of renowned filmmaker and artist Chris Marker (1921-2012). The exhibition is presented concurrently at the MIT List Visual Arts Center (October 18, 2013-January 5, 2014) and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University (October 18, 2013-December 22, 2013), and is accompanied by a retrospective at the Harvard Film Archive (October 17-December 9, 2013). Chris Marker: Guillaume-en-Égypte is the first comprehensive presentation of Marker’s pioneering work in text, photography, film, video, and digital media, reflecting his role as a chronicler of the second half of the 20th century through its images. The exhibition and related programming includes screenings and contributions by Agnès Varda, Duncan Campbell, and Jason Simon. Chris Marker: Guillaume-en-Égypte is organized by João Ribas.

The opening reception Thursday, October 17 will begin at the MIT List Visual Arts Center from 5:30-7:30 pm, with a film screening/talk at 6:00 pm by exhibition curator João Ribas. The reception for the exhibition will continue at the Carpenter Center from 6:30-8:00 pm, with a screening of La Jetée at 7:30 pm, introduced by Haden Guest, director of the Harvard Film Archive and curator João Ribas.

Best known for his 1962 science fiction film La Jetée, Chris Marker worked as a photographer, writer, and editor, before turning to film in the early 1950s. The exhibition at the List will include a comprehensive selection of his media work along with three of Marker’s most important photographic series: Coréennes, his black-and-white-photos of a trip to North Korea in the mid-1950s; Staring Back, photographic portraits captured during travels in Asia, South America, Scandinavia, Africa, Russia, and elsewhere from 1952 to 2006, as well as images from political demonstrations and from Marker’s own films; and Passengers, images taken between 2008 and 2010 of passengers traveling on the Paris Métro. The exhibition will also explore Marker’s critical interest in the relation between images and memory, and between documentary and fiction, through works such as Si j’avais quatre dromadaires (1966), centered on over 800 photographs Marker had taken for over a decade; Remembrances of Things to Come (2003), a portrait of photographer Denise Bellon and her images of postwar culture; and The Last Bolshevik, Marker’s tribute to the work and legacy of Russian film director Alexandr Medvedkin (1900-1989).

In the late 1960s, Marker’s interest in time-based moving image production and political engagement lead him to establish the SLON and Groupe Medvedkine collectives, whose objectives were to make films collaboratively and to encourage industrial workers to produce their own films. From the striking French workers at the Rhodiacéta factory in À bientôt, j’espère (Rhodiacéta) (1968) to Marker’s reflection on the role of imagination in public life in The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004), the various works presented in the exhibition reflect Marker’s ongoing engagement with politics.

Always an early adopter of new moving image technologies, Marker turned to the layering of images and the aesthetics of video, as well computing and digital media, in the 1970s and 1980s. The exhibition will present a comprehensive selection of Marker’s work in video spanning several decades, including television productions and his pioneering use of digital technology in the landmark CD-ROM based work, Immemory (1998), which invites readers to navigate “zones” of travel, war, cinema, and poetry, moving through photographs, film clips, music, and text. Marker’s engagement with the digital in Level Five (1996) deploys computer games, digital databases, and web interfaces as platforms for historical investigation, anticipating the ways in which new media are increasingly becoming sites of collective memory. The exhibition will also include recent work Marker produced for a variety of digital platforms, including Second Life and Youtube.

As part of the exhibition, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University will present a selection of media along with two of Marker’s most-important installation-based works: Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men, a 19-minute looped media installation inspired by T.S. Eliot’s 1925 poem “The Hollow Men” created in 2005 for the Museum of Modern Art; and Silent Movie (1994-95), Marker’s response to the one–hundredth anniversary of the invention of cinema. Originally commissioned by the Wexner Arts Center, Silent Movie evokes the memory of pre-sound cinema in an installation that investigates the intersection of personal recollection with collective nostalgia.

Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by the Institute Française and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, The Dedalus Foundation, Icarus Films, Cultural Service of the French Consulate in Boston, Toky, the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee, and the Friends of the List. Special thanks to Peter Blum Gallery for their generous support and assistance.

For more information on the Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art events in conjunction with the MIT List exhibit, including schedule and speakers, please visit

About the MIT List Visual Arts Center

In 1950 MIT established the Hayden Gallery that was located in the Charles Hayden Memorial Library. The gallery served as a venue for a program of changing exhibitions. In 1985 the Hayden Gallery was renamed the List Visual Arts Center in recognition of a gift from Vera and Albert List that relocated the gallery to its current location on the ground floor of the Wiesner Building which was designed by MIT alumnus I.M. Pei (B.S. Architecture, 1940), and Partners Architects.

Over the years the MIT List Visual Arts Center has become highly respected as one of the most significant university art galleries in the country for its innovative, provocative, and scholarly exhibitions and publications. Just as MIT pushes at the frontiers of scientific inquiry, it is the mission of the List Visual Arts Center to explore challenging, intellectually inquisitive, contemporary art making in all media. In addition to presenting 4-6 exhibitions annually, the List Center presents a broad range of education programs in conjunction with its exhibition programming. The Center maintains and adds to MIT’s permanent collection of over 3,500 artworks that includes dozens of publicly sited sculptures and hundreds of paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, and sculptures located throughout MIT’s campus. The List Center is also responsible for commissioning new works for the MIT Public Art Collection through the MIT Percent-for-Art program, and organizing and administering the Student Loan Art Program, which lends over 500 works of art annually to MIT undergraduate and graduate students.

Gallery Hours: Tues-Wed: 12-6PM; Thurs: 12-8PM; Fri-Sun: 12-6PM; closed Mondays and major holidays.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Additional Information: 617.253.4680 or

All exhibitions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center are free and open to the public.


Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Recent Posts


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This