The themes explored by Oscar Muñoz in his work are not unconnected with cinema: the relationship between images and memory, time and movement, not to mention the fragility of photography, have interested a number of filmmakers and have sometimes inspired formal experimentation.
Four evenings of interactions between the Jeu de Paume’s exhibition spaces and auditorium: ten films provide a counterpoint to the problematics and techniques developed by Muñoz, offering reflections on the intersection of the visual arts, cinema and photography. The programme includes Colombian shorts that marked the context of the artist’s training, an experimental animated film combining several generations of the country’s painters, filmed portraits by Andy Warhol, Gérard Courant and Gregory J. Markopoulos, together with short films by Hollis Frampton, Jean Eustache and Éric Baudelaire.
Programme devised by Marina Vinyes Albes
Tuesday, 3 June, 7pm
When Oscar Muñoz embarked on his artistic career in Cali in the 1970s, the Colombian city was going through an exceptional period of artistic and cultural ferment. Artists, writers and filmmakers gravitated towards the Ciudad Solar [Sun City] cultural project and the Cali film club, and also contributed to the film magazine Ojo al ciné (1972–1974), edited by Andrés Caicedo.
At this time, Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina were beginning to make their first short films. They capture the creative energy of youth, influenced by rock music, salsa and Latin American protest songs, as well as socialist ideas, the Cuban revolution, nadaismo, political and experimental theatre, and the region’s student art festivals. A love of film, experimentation and non-conformism would form the basis for the films Oiga Vea (1972), Cali, de película (1973) and Agarrando pueblo (1978), in which the town of Cali, which would also be a recurring subject in Muñoz’s work, formed the backdrop to their first experiences with film.
Made in reaction to a documentary on the 6th Panamerican games and to the style of the period’s political films, Oiga Vea is a very free essay on this event. It juxtaposes images and sound to highlight the effects of the event on those people who were excluded. Cali, de película was inspired by Jean Vigo’s À propos de Nice (1929) and is a formal exploration of the fair in Cali that makes no attempt to conceal the city’s contradictions. Finally, Agarrando pueblo is a fake documentary that is intended to be an ironic manifesto against poverty porn, in other words, the voyeuristic interest in the sordid aspects of life that dominated the Latin American films shown abroad.
Oiga Vea [Listen See], by Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina (1972, 27’); Cali, de película [Fantastic Cali], by Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina (1973, 14’); Agarrando pueblo [The Vampires of Poverty], by Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina (1978, 28’).
Screening presented by Oscar Muñoz
Mémoires du sous-sol
Tuesday, 10 June, 6pm
The suffocating atmosphere of the basement, fragile bodies wandering aimlessly and the voyage to hell are metaphors often used in Colombian cinema to denounce a society regarded as decadent. The avalanche of violent images endlessly reproduced by the media is compared to the visual supermarket of advertising. In the middle of this cold and absurd spectacle, contemporary man raves and runs after his head.
Following on from Isaac Ink, el pasajero de la niche (1988) and La Selva oscura (1993), Carlos Santa, in his first long film, Los Extraños Presagios de León Prozak (2005–2009), transformed his hell into a circus. The artist is the conductor in this extraordinarily beautiful experimental animated film in which several generations of Colombian painters appear, each performing their own circus act. Santa’s technique, an assemblage of several methods, is adapted to reflect each artist’s creative approach – chalk on blackboard, oil on glass, etc. – so that the film breaks down the barriers between the visual arts and cinema, between movement and painting. It was the fruit of a long collaboration that traces 150 years of Colombian art and, thanks to Santa’s direction, creates links between disparate works.
The artist León Prozak decides to rent his head to Mefisto Ritalini so that he can see his circus acts in exchange for making his work better known. He will never find it again as it was.
Los Extraños Presagios de León Prozak [The Mysterious Presages of León Prozak], by Carlos Santa (2005–2009, 80’).
Screening presented by Sergio Becerra, film critic and historian
Photographies à la dérive
Tuesday, 24 June, 7pm
“What served in the place of the photograph, before the camera’s invention? The expected answer is the engraving, the drawing, the painting. The more revealing answer might be: memory.” (John Berger, Uses of Photography)
Like Oscar Muñoz, film has often explored the relationship between memory and photography. Here are three films that explore this relationship through the interaction between fixed image and discourse, using as the starting point intersections and disparities between what photography presents for view and what commentary reveals. To begin with, we see what photographs show us, then a voice goes beyond these visual images, disrupts their objectivity and muses about subjective considerations (reminiscences) and the conditions surrounding the filming, be it real or imaginary. A new dimension is opened up through the disparity between discourse and photography: that of memory, in which the fixed image gradually acquires a temporality. It thus enters a constantly shifting realm, where all certainties can melt away.
Nostalgia (1972) by Hollis Frampton shows photographs against a soundtrack of the voice of Michael Snow commenting on them, out of sync with the images shown, as they disintegrate due to the destructive power of fire. In Les Photos d’Alix (1980), Jean Eustache films the photographer Alix-Cléo Roubard describing her photos, but her comments correspond less and less to the images, to a complete lack of surprise on the part of the interviewer. Finally, in The Makes (2009), Éric Baudelaire brings to life photographs of scenes from old Japanese films through a text that imagines them as scenes from a film by Antonioni that was never made.
Nostalgia, by Hollis Frampton (1971, 38’); Les Photos d’Alix, by Jean Eustache (1980, 19’); The Makes, by Éric Baudelaire (2009, 26’).
Screening presented by Marina Vinyes Albes, in charge of programming
Devenir dans l’instant. Le temps du geste
Tuesday, 1 July, 6pm
“The procedure itself caused the models to live, not out of the instant, but into it; during the long exposure, they grew, as it were, into the image – in complete contrast with the apparitions that appear in a snapshot.” (Walter Benjamin, Petite histoire de la photography)
This final screening is inspired by Oscar Muñoz’s Fundido a blanco, an intimate living portrait in which the artist filmed his father in a static shot while the reflection of a photograph of his mother appears then vanishes on the window. For seven minutes and forty seconds, the camera captures the two faces without moving: his father tries to remain motionless, as if he were being photographed, and struggles to ward off sleep. For the space of a few minutes, his life will be etched into time without any moment being given prominence.
The title of Oscar Muñoz’s exhibition, “Protographs”, refers to the moment before the image is fixed. His work is an attempt to break down the instant and to develop images in time. Becoming in the instant conjures up the moment when photography was invented, before the instant when, as Walter Benjamin put it, the photographed model, motionless before the camera, grew, so to speak, during the exposure, in contrast to the frozen image in the photograph, deprived of duration. This is an opportunity to compare three films which, without knowing it, echo each other, conversing in silence. A selection of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests and an extract from Gérard Courant’s Cinématon will be followed by the screening of Galaxie by Gregory J. Markopoulos, which is being shown for the first time in France. Numerous portraits send us their breath through the screen, blink as we blink, in and through time. Warhol, Courant and Markopoulos create a very similar system whereby the model exists freely in front of the camera for a given time, making it possible for their identity, for the real experience of life, to be captured. The camera, immobile, captures the gestures of those who are willing to show themselves, consenting to play the game, albeit not without a certain embarrassment sometimes.
Screen Tests, by Andy Warhol (1964–1966) – selection; Cinématon, by Gérard Courant (1978-en cours) – extract; Galaxie, by Gregory J. Markopoulos (1966, 92’).
Screening presented by filmmaker Gérard Courant