This exhibition explores how particular video works take on the authority that we have understood to be the domain of architecture, in that they produce a sense of the common, the public and sociality, but also how they take up and reconfigure public and communal space in physical terms in the gallery environment. Taking these two related aspects as its foundation, the curation of this exhibition aims to think through video as a facet of architecture. To achieve this, the four video works are presented within specially designed structures of suspended screens that fragment the space of the gallery, both disrupting and directing views and movements through the space.
The title of the show takes its cue from Walter Benjamin’s text of the same name. Benjamin’s text intermingles a series of disjointed narrative spaces, scenarios, theories and memories that effectively collapse the monumental, ideological space of architecture and the spectacle of cinema. Architecture is now temporal and unfixed from time; a set of cinematic fictional encounters, and fleeting ‘cinematic’ images become dark spectral scenes that loom as monuments. Within this world of phantasmagoria the site for experiencing what we determine to be ‘reality’ is constituted by violence, power and pleasure.
The video works in the exhibition extend this experience of narrative and space through establishing themselves as ‘real fictions’. They take on sensorial and forceful qualities, moving us to agreement, immersing us, and producing what we understand to be our commonality. As a total domain of experience, the exhibition draws upon the notions of cinematic space as an architectural field and explores how our social lives can be understood as a cinematic territory.
Amanda Beech’s “State Line”, 2007, filmed at the Cal Neva Lodge Lake Tahoe, infamous for its Mafioso and Kennedy family connections, embodies the violence of liberalist individualism, where mobile subjectivities articulate the force and the site of law.
Pierre Bismuth’s “Respect the Dead” 2001-2002 consists of feature films edited so that the film sequences are cut immediately after the first death occurs on screen.
Jaspar Joseph-Lester’s "Spirit" 2007, focuses on a small housing community in Dornach, Switzerland. Through the video the relation between spaces of work, home and leisure are experienced through a single vernacular of unusual architectural forms.
Roman Vasseur’s "Black Propaganda at Melancholy Ranch" reports and dramatises a remote event in a desert setting where a light plane breeches the uninhabited landscape and bombards the terrain with leaflets simultaneously reporting and threatening a language bomb.
The exhibition is part of a long-term research project, entitled “Curating Video” between Dr. Amanda Beech (Director of MA Critical Writing Curatorial Practice, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art, UAL, London, UK), Dr. Jaspar Joseph-Lester (Leader of MA Contemporary Art Curating, Sheffield Hallam University, UK), and Matthew Poole (Director of MA Gallery Studies and Critical Curating, University of Essex, UK).
This project is supported by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Essex, and University of the Arts London. The project will continue with a symposium entitled “Curating Video” to be held in London in early 2008. Details to be announced.