In the films of Manon de Boer personal narration and musical interpretation form both subject and method. She insistently probes the interplay between image and sound and subtly changes our usual perception of film. This way, she questions the power of pictures and their claim to truth. Most of the protagonists of her films, which always constitute some kind of portrait, are actors and actresses, musicians, dancers, and intellectuals. The characters gradually assume definite shape as their recollections unfold, and even then conceal at least as much as is revealed.
This program reflects the artist’s special interest in the conditions in which creativity and unfettered artistic expression flourish. “I still regard aimless moments – when you can let your mind wander, forget about time and empty your head for a while – as an essential part of the creative process.” An Experiment in Leisure explores this idea through excerpts from the eponymous book by British psychoanalyst Marion Milner. They are read and reflected upon by different artists as we see images of their workspaces and a seascape in Norway. The resulting experience resonates with Milner’s idea of leisure: not a moment opposed to work, but a time allowing us to perceive and think freely without an immediate objective.
We see this process at work in some of the other films. The Untroubled Mind consists of a collection of images of constructions of de Boer’s son, filmed over a period of three years. The duration of each shot is around 20 seconds, the length of time you can film with a Bolex 16mm camera when winding it manually. “Julius has been building things with objects around him since he was about two years old. He comes up with these constructions when he’s playing on his own – often immediately after a moment of not knowing what to do. I love it when I come across them in the house. They show me something of his mental world and how he experiences space, and they also reveal what [the American painter] Agnes Martin calls ‘an untroubled mind’.”
Caco, João, Mava and Rebecca observes four teenagers quietly improvising with dance and movement in a rehearsal space. The film avoids building up tension and deviates from working towards an aim. Instead, de Boer explores the time span between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet’, the time of possibilities.
The other two films also deal with the body of the artist, this time in the act of performing and complete concentration, but also that of the viewer. one, two, many is made up of three performances: a flute piece with continuous breathing, a spoken monologue, and a song by four singers in front of an audience. In Two Times 4’33”, Brussels pianist Jean-Luc Fafchamps plays John Cage’s groundbreaking “silent” composition 4’33” twice with an audience. His first performance is recorded with ambient sound. In the second, all sound is cut except for the clicking of the timer at the three punctuations indicated on the line score. This time, the camera moves steadily along every member of the audience and finally shows the landscape through the studio window. The intimate, bodily silence of the spectator in the screening room becomes the focal ‘music’ at play.
• The program consists of two parts with an intermission after the third film.
• Exceptionally, all films from the selection are shown on their original format! A unique opportunity to see some of Manon de Boer’s 16mm and 35mm work on film.
• This is the second in a series of three evenings that OFFoff devotes to the films of Manon de Boer on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Blindsight – Manon de Boer in dialogue with Latifa Laâbissi and Laszlo Umbreit’ at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (February 13 – May 22) in Deurle. The other evenings take place on Monday March 14 and Sunday May 15.
• The three film programs are free for holders of a ticket of the exhibition. Conversely, a film ticket provides free access to the exhibition.