Press Release of the Exhibition
'The Four Chambered Heart'
Jan 20th > Feb 21st 2009
In the year of 1959 Jean Rouch directed the film The Human Pyramid. The film is, in Rouch‘s own words, an “experience” in between fiction and documentary, where he sought to initiate a debate between two groups of students from the Ivory Cost (a group of white students and a group of black students). The film is, therefore an observation of the human behaviour, which for Rouch, as an ethnographer, is the key to in-depth thinking about political, social and racial issues.
An anticipation of the Cinéma Vérité, this often forgotten film, was the starting point of Filipa César (Porto, 1975) this last project: The Four Chambered Heart. When César was invited in the end of 2007 to attend an artistic residency at the Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon, she thought of a similar project but tailored to the local context. She put herself in Rouch’s place – the instigator who captures on film his characters’ reactions and emotions while probing whether they are acting or not. Instead of a group of black and a group of white students, the artist brought together a group of Arab and a group of Hebrew students from three cinema schools in Israel: Almanar Film School, in Taibe; Telaviv University, Department of Film and Television, in Telaviv; and Sapir Academic College, Department of Film and TV, in Sederot. After watching the projection of the film, they start discussing their viewing experience. They question the role of cinema¸ the role of the director, and each other’s positions. They even deconstruct the cinematic device they are themselves part of, pointing out the differences between Rouch’s and César’s experiment. Gradually, an argument about cinema shifts to a debate on Israel and Palestine, on colonialism and language, culminating in the subject of external intervention (in this case European intervention, personified in Filipa César).
The body of work Filipa César has been producing has developed towards an investigation on the human nature and its visualization through the lens (hidden or not) of a camera. Such nature is surveyed in situations as diverse as the waiting hours spend at train stations (Berlin Zoo, 2001-2003), or as the narration of political resistance (Le Passeur, 2008). Above the discourse, which is verbalized, it is in the moments of silence that an increasing weight is to be found. This specificity is once more demonstrated in The Four Chambered Heart (spoken in Hebrew and subtitled in English). The recurring preference for the reaction shot as a character portrayal mechanism, fragments the statements, isolating each individual in his or her position.
Filipa Césars films increasingly propose a utopian vision of the role of cinema (and of art). One of the students states at a certain point that, “a film can not change the world”. By proposing projects such as this one, César suggests that art can, nevertheless, have an active role in such discussion.
Press Release of the Exhibition
F FOR FAKE
March 2 to April 2, 2005
Tuesday, March 1, 10 p.m.
'F for Fake' is a project on truth, lies, forgery and authorship concerning both art and life.
Using Orson Welles last feature film as her point of departure, Filipa César adds one more level to its meta-narrative nature by introducing 5 new characters, a lawyer, an actor, a writer, an art-critic and a guinea pig, who play themselves and sometimes assume the roles of the characters Elmyr de Hory, Oja Kodar, Orson Welles, Clifford Erving and Howard Hughes.
Quoting Welles’ editing techniques, Filipa César underlines the duality between form and content in the original movie, namely the non correspondence that can be founded between the, quite modern, concerns with expertise and the author’s signature and the, quite post-modern, TV-based structure that spells out an altogether different reality: a reality which is acutely aware of its own medial grounding, at once mocking and glorifying a former reality generated by former media, namely painting and writing.
Using video as a means of commenting on the cinematographic device, which was always already commenting on the literary device, Filipa César makes the leap into the electronic era, coming full circle with Orson Welles. ‘F for Fake’ becomes an ongoing process of juxtaposition and insertion where we are never in or out of the film since in and out have long become a mere point of view. Underlying this statement with an ironical dash, Filipa César displays her actors posing as viewers in the project’s photographs.
The project will be displayed as an installation of VHS videotapes shaping a giant F, accompanied by a video projection displaying Filipa’s ‘F for Fake’. The audience will not be allowed to take possession of the videotapes but theft will not be prosecuted.
Text by Ana Pinto
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Press Release of the Exhibition
Cristina Guerra - Contemporary Art presents 'Sets for Thoughts', a one-man-show by Filipa César.
Opening October 29th 2002, by 10 p.m.
October 30th to November 23rd, 2002
The expectation caused by situations of waiting and the attention focused on the trivial actions of the average citizen are present all over the work of Filipa César (b. 1975, Oporto, Portugal). Spaces are replaced by the possibility of a suspended action whose characters reveal a tension, either discreet or profoundly disturbing, caused by the absence of the communication processes.
However, although it films anonymous persons in trivial gestures and common spaces, quite often by the means of illicit recordings (thus violating the right to privacy and the protection of individual intimacy), the artist’s work is set apart from the practice of the documentary register for the practise of a fictional device, supported in the editing possibilities of the videotape process, through the manipulation and reconfiguration of the space/time binomial.
Some of the seminal works of this register, revealing the axis of concerns that form the core of her investigation, are, for example, the titles: Untitled (Romance) (2000) where anonymous persons – filmed in railway and subway stations – are transformed, by the means of video editing, into interpreters of ephemeral relationships through the regard; Untitled (Twirler) (1999) – a title resulting from joining the words “thriller” and “twirl” – results from the appropriation of several scenes taken from that movie genre, where travelling works as a device for action suspense, being, however, the “dénouement” suppressed in the editing process; or Letters (2000), where anonymous characters are succeeded and replaced in a post office that, by recurring to double screening (an unsynchronised mirror of the shot action) and to sound obliteration, produces encounters in which a dialogue seems to take place but one that only reveals the communication process in a differed way and in a closed circuit.
This “distopia” of the communicational act, prolonged in the architectonic framework of anonymous spaces, everyday spaces of share (airport lobbies, railway stations, post offices...), characteristic non-places – lies in the exploration of the interludes in-between actions, of the moments in which apparently nothing happens and in recurring to time as a psychological datum. And thus a field of possibilities is opened to the construction of other fictions on the relational acts.
This set of concerns that involves Filipa César’s research is prolonged in this one-man-show, Sets for Thoughts, opening the October 29 at Cristina Guerra – Contemporary Art and, and is unfolded in a research on the language of art itself, by researching one of the pictorial tradition’s fundamental axis: landscape.
Thus, in the double video screening Product Displacement (2002) (a title deriving from “product placement”: technical slang meaning the infiltration of publicity, within a context and in a subliminal way, in the cinema universe) there is a long travelling through a succession a of “real-life” macro-sets (shot in the interior projection department of a design store chain, the raw material with which each person’s “private worlds” are built), crowded with characters that express themselves by the means of a contemplative lethargy, whose regard is guided by arbitrary details in the set.
By recurring to double screening we have, in parallel, the point of view of the one who is seen: a “dimmed” plan revealing the individual’s psychological state, absorbed in a kind of contemplative trance, similar to an stereographic system in which an image, in here mental, results from focusing a point beyond the material plan.
This psychic trace is linked to the series of 14 diptychs of photographs – whose title is homonymous to the Sets for Thoughts exhibition – showing anonymous individuals, recorded with their backs turned to the observer, who can relate, by an editing artifice, to a fiction on their double point of view, that of who sees and that of who is seen.
The contemplation/melancholy axis, as a subtle note on everyday indolence, is prolonged in a slanting way in Untitled (2002), the projection of a “landscape model” where a bed, by means of travelling, is transformed into a landscape horizon, a romantic reference to a state of “domestic sublime”.
Filipa César will soon be present in the video lodge section of this year’s Art|Basel|Miami Beach- the International Art Fair/ La Exposicion Internacional de Arte (Miami, U.S.A.), being held from the 5th to the 8th of December. H.M.