The starting point for Yto Barrada’s project is the unique and tragic figure of Thérèse Rivière. In the 1930s, the French ethnologist traveled to Algeria, to the Aurès mountains, to study the Berber Chaouis people.
The Very Impress of the Object
This exhibition explores the fascination that classical sculpture has held for large numbers of contemporary filmmakers and artists, a fascination which also reflects an apparent contradiction: why is it that contemporary artists working with moving images are so interested in the absolute immobility embodied in classical sculpture? How can one interpret this intriguing seduction?
Harking back to London in the year 1855, a speaker giving a lecture about Notre-Dame cathedral, in Paris, presents the audience with a photograph of one of the cathedral’s portals, proclaiming the image to be so faithful to the original that it could well be ‘the very impress of the object’.
In part, it is clear that it was its immobility that made sculpture so attractive to early photographers, as this suited the long exposure times required by early iterations of the technology. More difficult to understand is why the presence of classical sculpture, which has long been absent from teaching programmes and seems increasingly distant, is so notably present in works by contemporary artists, especially in the cinema.
Seven international artists have been invited to exhibit works around this theme: Anja Kirschner (1977) and David Panos (1971), Fiona Tan (1966), Mark Lewis (1958), Rosa Barba (1972), Lonnie van Brummelen (1969) and Siebren de Haan (1966). In their films the camera’s minute perusal of ancient objects, famous or forgotten, allows us to look again at sculptures from the past.
Produced in different parts of Europe, these artists’ works guide us through several museums, from the Louvre to the Capitoline Museums, from Paris to Rome, travelling further afield to Athens, and including stops in Berlin, Munich and London.
Curator: Penelope Curtis
About the exhibition
For groups by previous booking only
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