Voice of Things
How does the world breathe now?
Session N°25 17.05.2017 19:00
With Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer
FilM Méditerranée 1963
By Jean-Daniel Pollet and Volker Schlöndorff
FILM Cesarée 1979
By Marguerite Duras
FILM Agelastos Petra (Mourning Rock) 2000
by Filippos Koutsaftis
Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer will present three films which deal with the troubled and turbulent Mediterranean region, touching upon notions such as that of historical traumas, memory, loss, erasure and resistance.
Voice of thingsis a film night showcasing three films. The films are presented in chronological order. Between each of the films and between the last film and today is a gap of around 20 years. The three films respectively, deal with the troubled and turbulent Mediterranean region, touching upon notions such as that of historical traumas, memory, loss, erasure and resistance, thus exploring the fate of history and the ravages of time: even the greatest rulers and the empires they forge are impermanent and bound to fall, their legacies fated to decay and oblivion. Each film with its cinematic poetry and conviction meditates on the beauty and tragedy of life, done so without the use of a plot but through the spoken word (in the form of an elusive voice-over narration), sound and image. There is a certain pulse and pace, a certain kind of beauty and melancholy expressed and felt throughout, and which renders the films into abstract elegiac and moving cinematic compositions. We feel that the three filmmakers, each in their own distinct way, are driven by a similar urgency; to reflect upon the ruins of the past surrounding us and those that are still to be unearthed, while looking at the same time at the constant creation of new and modern ruins, amongst the continuously entropic and disconcerting landscape of geopolitical shifts and global economic affairs.
Méditerranée 1963 In 1960, French filmmaker Jean-Daniel Pollet travelled for three and a half months with a friend, German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff, accross 15 countries of the Mediterranean including Egypt, Greece, Italy and Spain. During that time, he filmed a number of subjects that recur throughout the film: the sea, ruins, a Sicilian garden, the pyramids, a bullfight arena, a woman lying motionless on a hospital bed, an old fisherman. Upon their return to Paris, Pollet asked the critic and writer Phillipe Sollers for the text that would be juxtaposed with the images. The sound was produced by Antoine Duhamel. The film, in itself, appears as a mysterious cinematic ritual of repeated images and sound, reminding us of the tragic cause of life, life as a theater and a mysterious social ritual (alluding to the tradition of the Greek tragedy, the Egyptian funerary ritual, a wedding ceremony).The resulting film had a great impact on the avant garde French cinema scene and film critics, yet it was rarely shown outside France. At the time, it provoked many critical writings in the light of a new political era and influenced film directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, who recognized the film's groundbreaking approach.
Cesarée 1979 Almost 20 years later, French novelist and filmmaker Marguerite Duras filmed inside the Jardin des Tuileries in France while reflecting on two separate moments in history: the fall of Cesarea (of which only the name remains), a city which was located in the Judaea Province of the Roman Empire, before it was overthrown and consequently became the capital of the Byzantine Palaestina Prima province during the classic period, and the unfulfilled and tragic end of the love of Berenice, queen of the Jews, to Titus, around 81 AD. The film overlays three elements: images of statues (by Maillol) in a Parisian park, a text recited by Duras and a musical composition. A second version of the film exists in which the imagery has been replaced, but the words and music remained unchanged.
Agelastos Petra (Mourning Rock) 2000 Another 20 years later, in 1999, the Greek filmmaker Filippos Koutsaftis finished the editing of an investigative and lyrical documentary. The director visited and revisited time and again the town of Eleusis in Greece, today a suburb situated northwest of Athens. It is located in the Thracian Plain, at the northernmost end of the Saronic Gulf. It is the birthplace of Aeschylus (525 BC), the father of tragedy. It is also the ancient town known as Eleusis, which hosted the Eleusinian Mysteries, the secret ceremonies that initiated the ancient Greek civilisation into the miracles of life, death, and the afterlife. Filippos Koutsaftis engages with the town and its citizens, amongst them a homeless old man, who is tirelessly, day and night, trying to save as many ancient artefacts as possible from oblivion and the destruction due to the ongoing urban development and the expansion of a gigantic oil refinery built on ancient ruins. The film portrays the changes that affect the town and its people over the course of 10 years. The inhabitants, despite their outcry and protest, watch the ongoing destruction while fighting to survive and adapt to the changes. Koutsaftis contemplates the implications those changes bring, the people’s resistance, the ignorance and ultimately the loss of memory that occurs over time.
Haris Epaminonda is an artist born in Nicosia, Cyprus in 1980. Her work comprises mainly of film and installation. Haris has had solo shows at the Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2017); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2016); Le Plateau, Frac-ile-de-France, Paris (2015); Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2014); Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia; Modern Art Oxford, UK; Kunsthaus Zurich (all 2013); Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2012); Museum of Modern Art, New York; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (both 2011); Tate Modern, London (2010); Malmö Konsthall, Malmö (2009). She took part in dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel in 2012 and the 5th Berlin Biennale in 2008. In 2007, Epaminonda co-represented Cyprus at the 52nd Venice Biennale. She is working on an ongoing project ‘The Infinite Library’ together with Daniel Gustav Cramer since 2007.
Daniel Gustav Cramer is an artist, born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1975. His practice, amongst other works, involves books and publications. Daniel has had solo exhibitions at the CAC Vilnius (2016); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2016); Kunstverein Nürnberg (2015); Kunstsaele Berlin (2015); SALTS, Biersfelden (2014); Kunsthalle Mulhouse (2013); Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2012); dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel, 2012; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe 2012; Kunsthalle Lissabon, Portugal, 2012 as well as Galeria Vera Cortes, Lisbon (2017), BolteLang Galerie, Zurich (2015) and Sies and Höke Galerie, Düsseldorf (2014). He is preparing projects for Verksmiðjan, Hjalteyri, Iceland, and Entree, Bergen, Sweden to be presented later this year.