“I, who have felt the horror of mirrors
Not only in front of the impenetrable crystal
Where there ends and begins, uninhabitable,
An impossible space of reflections”

—Jorge Luis Borges, Mirrors (in Dreamtigers)

History forgets. Obscures, revises, obliterates, but principally, forgets; forgoes, forges afresh: an histoire. What should be a deeply layered, patinated place, Cancún, the object of Cyprien Gaillard’s Cities of Gold and Mirrors, is no accretion of meaning, no accumulation of memory, no swimming vortex of Proustian reminiscences, nor even a synthesis, a synthetic space. It is a simulation of a place, a simulation of itself. And it is a perfect illustration of the mechanisms of history. The mirrors, the method; the gold, the motive. (more…)

The structures and mechanisms of power haunt Marine Hugonnier’s film Ariana. Set in the Pandjshêr Valley in Afghanistan, a fertile, verdant place walled in by the high peaks of the Hindu Kush, what begins as a document of a film being made becomes an allegory for the process of representation itself, and its attendant implications in terms of power and control: representation via the act of looking, of image-making. Casting a glance, catching a glimpse, fixing with a stare: traps to ensnare, assets to be stolen.

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“What I can name cannot really prick me,” Roland Barthes writes in Camera Lucida, positing that the photographic  image, ironically, is activated not by its sense of verisimilitude but precisely the opposite: the presence of the  indefinable, the unnameable. An image which is entirely explained and explainable – in which meaning exists in a closed loop – is sterile, dead; a mere simulacrum. If arguing for a metaphysics of the photographic image might seem a  precarious proposition, though, this will to locate the ineffable has a more immediate adversary: that of language. 1 Once a thing is named, it is forever fixed: “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” 2 It can never be another; never be unnamed.

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Aglaia Konrad’s work across photography and film surveys the built form with a quiet, careful regard. Her studies of  architecture function individually as documents, portraits, yet together transcend any reductive reading to form a  corpus which mines greater depths. Circling the indeterminate, liminal spaces where the built abuts the unbuilt, the   enclosed faces the excluded, civilisation meets wilderness, her work stalks landscape, in all the culturally and  historiographically loaded understandings of the term – not least its implicit notion of the mediation of space. (more…)

“The territory in question must be able to exist in any region on the surface of the globe; therefore we must study under what conditions it remains inaccessible, not only to ships, airplanes or other vehicles, but even to the eye. I mean that it might be possible, theoretically, for it to exist in the middle of this table without our having the slightest inkling.”
—René Daumal, Mount Analogue

Though by diverse means, the four artists whose work is part of the series Apparent Positions explore the notion of  transfigured space. Complicating and subverting, variously, the construct of landscape and the Romantic tradition; the institution of the map; and the relationship of the built to the unbuilt, their films summon the notion of the plurality of place, of a meta-landscape; and beyond that, of the active site, loaded, both defining and defined by interaction with its occupants and would-be occupiers. (more…)

The light passes from ridge to ridge,
from flower to flower –
the hepaticas, wide-spread
under the light
grow faint –
the petals reach inward,
the blue tips bend
toward the bluer heart
and the flowers are lost.

-HD, from Evening (in Sea Garden, 1916)

It is all too easy to look but not see. It is too easy to mistake the profound for the trivial, the trivial for the profound. We ignore the quotidian, well-trodden, often-visited. We overlook it. Yet it is the places which are best known to us that bear the most marks. It depends on how we look, on our regard. (more…)

“My own instinct is that the poles of existence and nonexistence alternate at an extremely fast speed, and that we float in  that alternation. We don’t experience the nonexistence, the moments between existence; there is no way to perceive  these moments as such. But accepting their presence aerates life, and suffuses the “solid” world with luminosity.” (1)
Between the light and the shadow, the rock and the water in Hannes Schüpbach’s films lies an eternal silence, a black  pause; and it is in this void that the artist’s formal and philosophical concerns are activated. Framing lyrical, richly  symbolic images of the elemental and infinite, the gestural and mortal, whether languorous gaze or brief glimpse, the  dark interstices – black film leader – with which Schüpbach separates sections or single images create stanzas, and the  structure and duration of the images themselves line and meter; and in this way, with the dancing metaphor of the  portraits it draws, his work approaches a rare poesis of vision. (more…)