Taking as their starting point Chantal Akerman’s first filmic meditations on the American landscape, Sud and De l’autre Côté, curator Laura Fried and writer-researcher Kyss Jean-Mary offer two personal perspectives. Laura Fried worked with Akerman in 2009 as the organizing curator in Saint Louis of the artist’s traveling exhibition, Moving Through Space and Time, which included the installation of these two films along with Akerman’s other “travelogues,” La Bas and D’est: au bord de la fiction.” Fried reflects on Akerman’s films in the space of museum exhibitions and how her films are transformed through a process of deconstruction and assemblage. Using De l’autre Côte as an example, Fried charts a constellation of politics and artists’ practices which she has engaged in recent years, all of which take her back to Akerman and this particular film. For Kyss Jean-Mary, Chantal Akerman, in her later “American” documentaries, holds on, like a baby chimpanzee in a laboratory, to the idea of “purification” as expressed by white Americans towards Mexicans in De l’autre Côte and African-Americans in Sud, and recomposes its devastating effects. But these “so-called documentaries” (the filmmaker’s designation) also partake of something else, in addition to the mythology of America in the mind of European artists. “American space does something to me,” she revealed to Cahiers du Cinema, regarding the genesis of De l’autre Côte. But is there a mirroring effect at work, both in regards to her sensitivity to the open or veiled denigration of others *and* the inability for some to fully belong anywhere? These and other considerations would be the parameters of a labyrinth from which we shall with any luck come across, though not necessarily escape through, several exits.
Laura Fried is a curator and writer living in Los Angeles. As Artistic Director of the Seattle Art Fair, Fried organizes the Projects and Talks sector with conversations, performances, installations and exhibitions on and off-site. In LA she recently presented Jay Heikes | Dieter Roth at Reserve Ames in LA. From 2007–2011, she was a curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, where she organized exhibitions of the work of Carey Young, Stephen Prina, Manon de Boer and Richard Aldrich, among others. In 2008, Fried contributed to the founding of a nimble project space in the museum called the Front Room. In it Fried produced screenings, exhibitions, interventions and performances with artists such as Hayley Tompkins & Sue Tompkins, Haris Epaminonda, Nina Beier & Marie Lund, Simon Denny and Thea Djordjadze, to name a few. Fried joined the Contemporary in 2007 from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, where she was a curatorial fellow.
Kyss Jean-Mary is a Portland-based researcher and writer, who is currently working on practical applications for his wide-ranging interests in art, film, philosophy, international politics and economic inequality. He served as a translator for the Center for the Survivors of Torture, has written for Print magazine on publications by the design firm Pentagram among others, guest- lectured on the Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran at the Samuel Kress Foundation in New York, and engaged with the work of many writers, filmmakers and visual artists, including Bernard Rudoksky, Marguerite Yourcenar, Jorge Luis Borges, Alain Resnais, Andrei Tarkovsky, Peter Greenaway and Raul Ruiz. His musings for this talk should be longer than this CV.
DIALOGUES is Zena Zezza’s series of performative conversations on the ideas and influences within Chantal Akerman’s work, bringing together theory, scholarship and artists’ practices with LOOKING, REALLY LOOKING! The Films of Chantal Akerman.
DIALOGUES events are presented in collaboration with Animated Arts and MFA in Visual Arts with technical support by Maxwell Brown at PNCA’s Mediatheque, 511 NW Broadway.
LOOKING, REALLY LOOKING! and DIALOGUES is co-presented by Zena Zezza and the Northwest Film Center, and is curated by Sandra Percival with Morgen Ruff.