EYE International - your Dutch film connection
Jia Zhang-ke, Close-Up, 2021 Video-installation on 5 screens, silent Photo: Studio Hans Wilschut

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Vive le cinéma exhibition

4 February 2021 

Jia Zhang-ke, Leopold Emmen, Lucrecia Martel, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Carlos Reygadas

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the Eye Filmmuseum and the 50th anniversary of International Film Festival Rotterdam. To mark two such significant milestones, Eye is holding a special exhibition, Vive le cinéma!, for which five leading filmmakers who have strong Rotterdam connections are contributing new work.

Marente Bloemheuvel, Curator at Eye, explains of how Eye and IFFR came up with the idea for the exhibition. "Eye and the International Film Festival Rotterdam have the same interests and the same focus on what film is...and we both want to stimulate new developments in cinema. We approached five major film directors from five continents for the jubilee exhibition Vive le cinéma!, thereby reflecting the power and diversity of world cinema."

The chosen directors are Dutch auteur Nanouk Leopold, Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel, self-taught Lesothan filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, leading Mexican director Carlos Reygadas and Chinese master, Jia Zhangke. All these figures have shown their films previously at IFFR. "We chose these five filmmakers because we could imagine that they would be interested in making something for an architectural space (like Eye). There are many directors who absolutely don't want to do that, of course. At the same time, more and more filmmakers are taking the step to the gallery space, to explore the boundaries in their own work and the art of film in general. We thought and talked for a long time about who we could best invite for such a commission and finally we specifically asked these five directors...and they all said yes!"

The project was hatched just over a year ago, before coronavirus struck. The filmmakers were asked to make work that could "exploit the three dimensional space" of the Eye Filmmuseum rather than the two dimensional cinema screen. Each was given a fee and production costs.

This is an absorbing experience for viewers. The moment they enter the space, they see a very long vitrine with contextual information about the filmmakers and their work. Jia Zhangke's installation consists of five screens. He installed four surveillance cameras which scan a very busy traffic intersection, capturing the stream of cars, bikes and pedestrians. On one of the screens, the camera zooms in to reveal a man whose hand has been bandaged. "This work is really about the omnipresence of cameras in public spaces. Especially in China, they [the surveillance cameras] see you everywhere. People say that they now produce more images than cameras operated by people do," Bloemheuvel says.

Martel's installation has three screens. As soon as you approach one, your own thermal image is captured and you see people walking around you, ghostly presences who seem to come from somewhere else. There are whispering voices in different languages and jungle noises. In her own oblique way, Martel deals with the legacy of colonialism and the mistreatment of indigenous peoples.

Leopold Emmen, Filmwork for Eye:
5 Scenes at a Walking Pace, 2021
Photo: Studio Hans Wilschut

Meanwhile, Dutch director Leopold's work, made in collaboration with Daan Emmen through their outfit Leopold Emmen, uses light, sound and architectural forms to create "a physical and spatial cinematic experience," as Bloemheuvel describes it. The setting is a location which looks like a dismantled movie set, or an indication of architecture. The installation consists of five different scenes each with its own music. This ranges from soft piano to birdsong and snatches of what sounds like a fraught Hitchcock score. "What's really interesting is they make a film without a camera, without actors, without a narrative...it all happens in your head. There is only light and sound," the curator sums up the abstract, experimental nature of the work.

Mexican director Reygadas' work explores human connection and chance encounters. He has designed what he calls a "meeting machine." Ten visitors sit inside and they are brought together in different ways.

Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese's installation features enormous screens and a projection on the floor. The aim is to create "a cinematic cathedral" through which spectators can walk, encountering "a mosaic" of his thoughts. These touch on colonialism, religion and the representation of black bodies in film and art.

Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Bodies of
Negroes. I Will Sculpture God, Grim and
Benevolent, 2021. Photo: Studio Hans Wilschut

It's all mind-bending stuff. Alongside the installations, there will be screenings of the directors' films and talks related to their careers. The film programme launches on Feb 5, online. Eye Filmuseum is currently closed but the hope is that the public will soon be allowed in. No, this is not an exhibition that you can access online. "We asked these people to create something for the three dimensional space. Therefore, it's essential to visit the space, to be there, to feel it, to hear it..."

For more information:

Eye Filmmuseum: www.eyefilm.nl


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