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"Anarrations: Anneke A. de Boer, Fow Pyng Hu, Gabriel Lester, Pia Wergius"
2000-12-17 until 2001-02-11
Witte de With Center for Contemportary Art
Rotterdam, , NL

In the multidisciplinary field of the visual arts the cinema is hardly conspicuous anymore. Artworks originating in experimental film or found footage exist alongside productions of (digital) video which in turn are influenced by music culture, commercials and computer games. This changed the nature of cinematographic art once and for all. What remains are the principles which by now have found their place within the visual arts and give no more than a hint of regular cinema. This has in turn also become transformed and incorporated 'art' material such as (digital) video in its program.

The exhibition Anarrations aims at showing cinematographic art not only as a derivative of cinema but as a fully fledged discipline with its own specific qualities. The youngest generation of visual artists shakes off the yoke of film history and focuses on the autonomy of the medium. Essentially this consists of time - as is the case with the newer medium of video - but the classic principle of the narrative has become so well-known that 'gaps' can effortlessly be filled by the viewer. This principle of film has endless possibilities. In the works of Anneke de Boer (1969), Fow Pyng Hu (1970), Gabriel Lester (1972) and Pia Wergius (1969) the essence of the narrative is affected by stopping time, pulling it apart into different dimensions or holding it topsy-turvy.

Moments in between (1997), a double set of slides by Fow Pyng Hu, constitutes the starting point of this inversion. The various photographs taken during a journey from Amsterdam to Japan are like a series of forgotten settings accommodating scenes that got stuck. They can be read as places which remain after the supreme moment or are still to accommodate this moment. They are always situated between the really important moments and as a series do not tell a consistent story. Hu is interested in the moments which are left out of a regular cinema film. He transforms the inherent 'dullness' into an absurd reality. To enhance this Hu situates his characters in an environment where they do not 'fit in'. In the video Ultra Land (2000), a new work made for this exhibition, this friction between characters and environment is present to a great extent. A group of young people with tights pulled over their heads prepare themselves for action. What this action implies is not unraveled however in the bizarre doings of the small group in the back seat of a car, between rows of corn fields and on and around provincial roads. Complementing the missing scenes is once again up to the viewer but this time (s)he is put to work with the necessary irony.

In the work of Anneke de Boer similar 'trivial' moments are given a central position in short films and series of photographs. De Boer, however, focuses in a more general way on a single moment occurring in various scenes. In the three series of photographs she shows here the action seems to take place just off the screen. The moments shown are peculiar events without context. In Helikopter (2000) it is only the title which puts the people crawling on the ground in an allotment garden complex, a sweater with the motif of a rabbit knitted in, flattened plants and casually passing cyclists within a context. Rustig nadenken (Quietly Thinking) (2000) shows two almost identical photographs of a woman putting her head between two legs dressed in corduroy. Because the woman is seen from behind and apart from the two legs only the flap of the coat of another character facing the event is shown here, once again the essential information which could explain the scene is missing. By focusing on a single scene 'complementing' the context become of less importance. The image in itself already entails so much confusion and mystery that the gaze gets stuck there. Doubling the image, with minimal differences, enhances the suggestion of a film still. The way in which De Boer realizes her images is also comparable to this. The action as well as its framing are executed extremely meticulously. Until recently De Boer was often director, actor as well as cameraman. Since this year she works with a crew of cameramen and actors and increasingly takes up the position of the director guarding and elaborating her self-written script as precisely as possible.

Gabriel Lester also works as a director. He is thoroughly aware of the effect which the moving image can have on the viewer's gaze and influences this carefully. The way in which commonly known images and concepts are received is deployed but also changed around in order to provide Hollywood clichés with ironic comments. Lester's work mercilessly exposes the principles of film while using them in an innovative way at the same time. Unlike Hu and De Boer he focuses more on the physical aspects of film and in this way affects the classic narrative. The installation which Lester shows in Witte de With, From Here to There (2000) and which was shown earlier at the world fair in Hannover, consists of an arrangement of various images of cityscapes and landscapes. The images are fleeting but with the turning movements of the industrial camera with which they are taken they influence the viewer physically. The experience of a drive on the highway with random impressions racing by stir up a personal travelogue in everyone.

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