23 January: Eddo Hartmann Goes to North Korea

Photographer Eddo Hartmann presents the North Korean capital as a backdrop, its residents as extra’s. Followed by the screening of Comrade Kim Goes Flying, an unstoppably cheerful romantic comedy made in North Korea.

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Photographer Eddo Hartmann talks to EYE on Art programmer Anna Abrahams about his experiences in North Korea, based on a short film he shot in Pyongyang, photographs from North Korean film studios and fragments from North Korean films.

An exhibition with new work by Hartmann opened in Huis Marseille in Amsterdam on 9 December. Setting the Stage: Pyongyang, North Korea features a series of photographs documenting the efforts to shape the ultimate socialist city and the life of its residents.

Eddo Hartmann: “Within the collective character of North Korea, the individual is just a pixel. I looked specifically for that pixel and its significance in the city.”

Eddo Hartmann (The Hague, 1973) studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. His work has been added to several Dutch photo collections and received a number of awards, including the Association of Photographers and PANL awards. His compelling Here lives my home (2012), a photobook based on his personal history, will also be discussed this evening.

Comrade Kim Goes Flying

The discussion is followed by the screening of Comrade Kim Goes Flying, an unstoppably cheerful romantic comedy made in North Korea. The Belgian filmmaker Anja Daelemans had the wild plan to shoot a film in North Korea, which she also realized with the help of a local producer.

A North Korean coal miner has dreams of becoming a trapeze artist, even though she suffers from vertigo and is mocked by her colleagues. Comrade Kim Goes Flying was shot as a feel-good film for North Koreans, though the makers also brought a pioneering feminist perspective to the film. The role of the sassy, assertive heroine was a novelty in North Korean cinema.

The girl power exhibited by a young woman who follows her dreams against all odds, turns Comrade Kim Goes Flying into something more than a beautifully designed fairy tale. Although the film was sanctioned by the Communist Party, the obligatory praises for party and state are absent. The filmmakers thus not only managed to surprise and entertain, but also cut through taboos with a dose of good humour.

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9 January – Erkka Nissinen & Nathaniel Mellors

Erkka Nissinen and Nathaniel Mellors received unanimous praise at the Venice Biennale for their absurd and radical installation The Aalto Natives. The Finnish contribution to the Biennale is now showing in the Cobra Museum; artistic director Xander Karskens talks about the work of the two artists. EYE presents several of their films, some of which have not been screened before in the Netherlands.

Artnet News trumpeted: ‘If it sounds bonkers, that’s because it is – in the best possible way’. And the respectable Die Welt judged that ‘our stubborn allegiance to religion and progress gets an immensely entertaining beating’. The very positive reception of The Aalto Natives at the Venice Biennale goes to shows that social commitment doesn’t always have to be served up as ponderous and humourless stuff.

Tonight Xander Karskens, curator of the Finnish pavilion at the Venice Biennale, talks about the work and inspiration of Erkka Nissinen (1975) and Nathaniel Mellors (1974). Using satire and humour to add a twist to pressing social issues, the artists avoid the castigating moralistic tone of much of the socially committed art. At the same time, their video work features a layered visual language and contains numerous social-political references. How do they do it?

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EYE screens Mellors’ The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview (2017, 22′); Nissinen’s Polis X (2012, 26’27”), Rigid Regime (2012, 13’17”)  and Tilaa Massa (2013, 15’29”).
In the absurdist The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview a Neanderthaler turns the tables on a prejudiced journalist who’s come to interview him. The predecessor of homo sapiens even turns out to be a lot smarter than his interviewer and overthrows the journalist’s easy assumptions about the Neanderthaler as an uncouth caveman.

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In his video work Erkka Nissinen (1975) nimbly treads the line between genuine earnestness and sprightly awkwardness. Nissinen’s work is marked by an inventive DIY approach – he uses HD video and 3D computer animation. He’s also a master of effortlessly weaving philosophical themes into deadpan situations. His films have the power to undercut everybody and everything. What to think of an armless outsider, who arrives by helicopter to offer ‘inspiration’ to a local community (Rigid Regime)? Or an exploration of the less palatable sentiments in the ancient Greek city-state, the polis, once the ideal of early civilization (Polis X)?

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Nissinen makes surrealist mincemeat of assumptions, ideas and historical reality. Tilaa Massa (Material Conditions – Inner Spaces, 15’29”) is a pure slapstick comedy about three men bred on Marx who want to change the world. They end up singing and seeking their inner self.

A collaboration with the CoBrA Museum.

22 December: Herinnering aan Frans Zwartjes

LivingSorbetSpectator – they are only a few of the titles with which Frans Zwartjes (1927-2017) opened the doors of the imagination. EYE pays tribute to an inspiring personality by showing several films of the recently deceased visual artist and filmmaker.

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Visual artist and filmmaker Frans Zwartjes, one of the most versatile of experimental filmmakers of the Netherlands, died last month on Saturday 18 November. His oeuvre includes more than fifty films, many of which were internationally acclaimed.

As a tribute to the godfather of the Dutch artist’s film, EYE screens a  number of films that put Zwartjes on the map as a filmmaker. The programme includes the films Living (1971’, 15’), Seats Two (1970, 10’), Moving Stills I (1972, 7’) and Sorbet (1968, 9’), Spectator (1970, 11′) and Dolls (1968, 10′). The films feature two of Zwartjes’ favourite actors – the muses Moniek Toebosch and Trix Zwartjes – in addition to Lodewijk de Boer (Sorbet) and Paul de Nooijer (co-director Moving Stills), two artists with whom Zwartjes liked to collaborate. The selection presents Zwartjes’ own favourite titles.

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‘The Great Wizard’, as Zwartjes was sometimes called, rose to prominence in the late 1960s with painterly and grainy monochrome films known for their extreme close-ups and startling changes of perspective. Psychological intensity and sexuality are constant themes in a Zwartjes film; improvisation, the unconditional use of black and white and in-camera editing were essential elements. The filmmaker focused on sexually charged and intoxicating situations, often with an undertone of fear or despair. The leading actors in a Zwartjes film were often fellow artist Moniek Toebosch (1948-2012), Zwartjes’ wife Trix and Christian Manders.

Essayist Susan Sontag (On Photography) once praised Zwartjes as ‘the most important experimental filmmaker of his time’. Pentimento (1979), Living (1971) – part of the Home Sweet Home series (1971) – and Spare Bedroom (1969) are among Zwartjes’ best-known films.

 

Zwartjes was not only a filmmaker but also a visual artist, photographer, musician – he played the viola for the Dutch National Opera – and a violin maker. He often wrote the scores for his films himself, occasionally together with his brother Rudolf or theatre director and composer Lodewijk de Boer. He preferred to be in charge of everything: from handling the camera, directing and editing to film processing  and sound editing.

Zwartjes was a major figure in Dutch cinema; influenced by the work of Andy Warhol, Bruce Conner and Gregory Markopoulos, he passed on the legacy of the New American Cinema to his students at the Vrije Academie in The Hague and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Among the prominent filmmakers who studied under Frans Zwartjes are Paul de Nooijer, Dick Rijneke, George Schouten and Jacques Verbeek/Karin Wiertz. His work appeared to epitomize the liberal climate in the Netherlands in the years 1966-1994, when taboos were dismantled and the artistic climate encouraged pioneering experiments.

Work by Zwartjes was featured at the Museum of Photography in The Hague, the GEM Museum of Contemporary Art (The Hague), EYE (Amsterdam) and ICA (London). In 1990 Zwartjes was the first recipient of the Ouborg Award for visual artists living in The Hague. His work is also included in the Canon of Dutch Cinema, an initiative of the Netherlands Film Festival.

Most of Zwartjes’ oeuvre is preserved in EYE’s experimental film collection; the film museum hopes to focus attention on the legacy of the exuberant, darkly expressive filmmaker that was Zwartjes also in the next years. His films were electrifying, puzzling, inspiring, the expression of an exceptionally free spirit.

19 December: Jesper Just – Artist Talk

EYE presents work by the Danish artist Jesper Just in its exhibition spaces from 16 December. Just broke through internationally with films, installations and live performances. EYE Director of Exhibitions Jaap Guldemond interviews Just on the subject of his oeuvre, whose stylized visual language often references Hollywood cinema. A conversation about longing, relationships and identity.Portrait of Jesper Just c Photo Guillaume Ziccarelli.jpg

12 December: filmEXPRMNTL – 50 years

It was a mythical spot: from 1949 an abandoned casino in the cosmopolitan Belgian resort Knokke was the venue for five editions of ‘EXPRMNTL’, the film festival that hosted the cream of the avant-garde. On 27 December 1967 Piet Verdonk brought his installation New Electric Cinema to life – tonight he will present the reconstruction for EYE on Art. Director Brecht Debackere will also be here to introduce his fascinating documentary on the legendary festival. Several short films included in the original 1967 programme will also be screened tonight.

Piet Verdonk was one of the participating artists, and for a good reason.  On 27 December 1967 he presented his mesmerizing installation New Electric Cinema in Knokke Casino. The installation was based on the idea that there was no need to actually shoot a film; or, in the words of Verdonk: ‘Why make films when heaps of film cuttings end up as waste? Why use a soundtrack when you can make music yourself?’ Working with residual material, with celluloid discarded and chucked out by an industrious editor – it would become one of the tenets of experimental filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s.

Live electro-pneumatic soundtrack

Verdonk also operated on the idea that a film screening could be a physical experience: his New Electric Cinema provided a total sensory experience. Verdonk’s installation made use of edited 16mm film stock on prepared offset plates, with a live electro-pneumatic soundtrack of interfering sound generated by a number of energetic vacuum cleaners. The effect on eyes and ears is something that can be experienced at EYE tonight, when Verdonk presents a reconstruction of the legendary show in Knokke, which includes the new restoration of the 16mm film. The cinematographic installation has now been added to EYE’s collection.

A gripping story about the avant-garde

It was known as the ‘St Tropez on the Belgian coast’. Between 1950 and the mid-1970s, Knokke was the place where the beau monde, avant-garde artists, members of the bourgeoisie and the political elite rubbed shoulders. The extraordinary, hardly told story of a town that hosted five editions of a legendary experimental film festival (in 1949, 1958, 1964, 1967 and 1974), is the subject of Brecht Debackere’s documentary EXPRMNTL (2016, 68’).

The filmmaker dived into the history of EXPRMNTL and talked to the makers, trendsetters and connoisseurs of the experimental film circuit, such as Jonas Mekas, Agnés Varda, Eric de Kuyper, Peter Kubelka, Jean-Jacques Lebel and Birgit Hein.

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EXPRMNTL is a few cuts above the standard documentary reconstruction, though. Debackere regards the film as a ‘search for the principles of the cinematographic experiment and the history of the moving image’. He wove archival footage, interviews, photos and films into a new experimental tale, a ‘reliving of the creative atmosphere, a sixth and purely filmic edition of the festival’.

Also included in the programme this evening are some of the short experimental films originally screened in Knokke in 1967, by filmmakers such as Lutz Mommarz, Koji Kuri, James Broughton, Pim de la Parra and Wim Verstappen.

Documentation of a screening test of “New Electric Cinema” in EYE in November 2017:

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28 November – Pat O’Neill, Master of the Avantgarde

A rare screening of some of Pat O’Neill’s short films, followed by Water and Power (1989), his masterpiece on the industrialization and desertification around Los Angeles. Pat O’Neill (1939, Los Angeles) will be present this evening to reflect on his remarkable oeuvre, a selection of which is presented by EYE.

Pat O’Neill’s rarely screened masterpiece Water and Power (1989) is a technological feat on the terrifying desert created by Los Angeles’ enormous water consumption. O’Neill focused intently on the industry that sprang up around Los Angeles, ‘the city that changed land into desert’, which he filmed with the use of time-lapse photography and optical printing and animation. In this way he managed to expose the inexorable conflict  between industry and nature.

Water and Power

O’Neill conceived the film partly in response to Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (1983), a hypnotic compilation of touristy landscapes showing a world out of balance. By contrast, O’Neill created images full of internal contradictions. Footage of Owens Valley Desert dissolving into footage of Los Angeles by night serves to highlight cause and effect: the city was only able to flourish by devouring the land. Using time lapse to make weather changes visible, O’Neill renders people as fleeting shadows. Although we are capable of altering the landscape beyond recognition, he also shows our vulnerability, and the frailty of human life on a geological scale.

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Water and Power is preceded by a selection of O’Neill’s work from various periods:

– Extra Wander: For Chickie (2016) (7′, HD digital video, loop)
– Trouble in the Image (1996) (37′, 1 channel 35mm)
– Runs Good (1970) (15′, 1 channel 16mm)
– 7362 (1967) (9′, 1 channel 16mm)
Programme in English, with a break.

All images are courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles.

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7 November: Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Cinema as Dream

Sleep and dreams play an important role in the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Together with VU University brain researcher Ysbrand van der Werf, senior scientist at the Netherlands Institute for Neuro-science and author of the 2016 popular science book Iedereen slaapt (‘Everybody sleeps’).

The session will discuss what happens in the brain while we sleep and dream, and the extent to which film is also a form of dreaming. After the talk EYE will screen Cemetery of Splendour by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Moderator: Dana Linssen.

31 October – David Lynch: The Art Life

As might be expected from a master of confusion, David Lynch: The Art Life is no ordinary biopic. You can’t get more extraordinary than Lynch talking about Lynch. EYE also screens his short films The Grandmother and Six Men Getting Sick.

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Narrated by Lynch, this documentary is not about his film career. Instead, Lynch talks about the past and how painting has defined his oeuvre. As Lynn recalls scenes from his youth, his own artworks are expertly edited into the documentary to fit his recollections. Moving around in his painting studio in the hills above Hollywood, he returns to the roots of his creativity.

In one of his anecdotes a relaxed Lynch recalls a strange episode in his native city Missoula– “My world was no bigger than a couple of blocks” – when he saw a naked woman wandering down the street crying. That was a mysterious moment, something that burst open his little world for an instant. It’s easy to draw a link with Twin Peaks, but the documentary refuses to go in for obvious interpretations. After a happy childhood, Lynch created his own world “full of glory and darkness”. This is what he calls ‘The Art of Life’, and Lynch is a past master.

Preceded by:

Six Men Getting Sick (David Lynch, 4′)
Lynch made this experimental animation while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Lynch: “Fifty-seven seconds of growth and fire, and three seconds of vomit.”

The Grandmother (David Lynch, 34′)
A boy grows a loving grandmother to help him escape from his violent parents. Lynch: “Grandmothers get playful. And they relax a little, and they have unconditional love. And that’s what this kid conjured up.”

24 October – Bouwen te midden van eenzaamheid: Van Loghem in Siberië (in Dutch)

Bouwen te midden van eenzaamheid: Van Loghem in Siberië

(English:The documentary Bouwen te midden van eenzaamheid premieres at EYE on the very eve of the first centenary of the Russian Revolution. Actors Stijn Westenend and Gonny Gaakeer read from the letters and texts of the architect Han van Loghem, who stayed with his wife Berthe Neumeijer in the Siberian town Kemerovo to build houses for the workers there. With footage and photographs from the 1920s.)

Dutch text (the show will be in Dutch): Precies een dag voor het honderdjarig jubileum van de Russische Revolutie gaat in EYE de voorstelling Bouwen te midden van eenzaamheid in première. Tegen de achtergrond van film- en fotobeelden uit de jaren twintig dragen acteurs Stijn Westenend en Gonny Gaakeer passages voor uit de correspondentie en teksten van Han van Loghem en zijn echtgenote Berthe Neumeijer over hun verblijf in de Siberische stad Kemerovo.werk_aan_de_fundamenten_voor_de_school_in_kemerovo_-_familiearchief_schoorl

Architect Han van Loghem reisde in de jaren twintig af naar het verre Siberië, uit politieke overtuiging en sociale bewogenheid. De Sovjet-Unie had specialisten nodig om mee te werken aan het ontwerp en de bouw van compleet nieuwe steden in de Oeral en Siberië; mijn- en metaalwerkers uit het Russische achterland zouden er worden gehuisvest. Vervuld van idealen en drang naar avontuur vertrokken moderne architecten uit West-Europa naar het toekomstige arbeidersparadijs.

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In bouwen te midden van eenzaamheid brengt filmmaker Pim Zwier in beeld hoe de reis naar Siberië voor Van Loghem ook een zoektocht was naar persoonlijke en professionele vervulling, die hij meende in eigen land niet te kunnen vinden. Echtgenote Berthe Neumeijer zou aanvankelijk in Nederland blijven, maar Van Loghems zoektocht had zijn weerslag op hun verhouding en zij reisde hem achterna in een poging hun huwelijk te redden.

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De premièrevoorstelling in EYE is een live voorstelling met medewerking van acteurs Stijn Westenend en Gonny Gaakeer. De voorstelling komt tot stand in samenwerking met Pim Zwier en het Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, en zal ingeleid worden door IISG-onderzoeker Gijs Kessler. Vooraf: Sotsgorod Kemerovo (1995, 25′) van Anna Abrahams, een korte documentaire over de bouw van de internationale kolonie Kuzbass, waar Kemerovo deel van uitmaakte.

 

 

10 October: Cao Guimarães’ Eye for the Everyday

Cao Guimarães’ work is marked by great beauty and meticulous attention to everyday details. Dana Linssen (NRC, Filmkrant) talks with University of Amsterdam professor and cultural anthropologist Mattijs van de Port about the aesthetic gaze of the Brazilian filmmaker/artist. Van de Port has been involved in long-running research in Brazil, where he also made several films. He is ‘determined to restore interest in beauty in academic research’.cao 10 okt 2cao 10 okt 3cao 10 okt 4cao 10 okt 5cao 10 okt 6cao 10 okt 7cao 10 okt