The cinema is a magical place. In 1975, Roland Barthes mused about ce noir du cinéma as simultaneously hypnotic and fixative, fascinating and liberating. Sometimes, experimental films seek out the slumber that is distinctive of cinema, then again, they oppose it, celebrate alienation, break through the fourth wall and appeal to the awake spectator, leaving behind familiar film forms, good taste and cultural patterns.
Art Cinema OFFoff offers space for all these experiences and expressions of experimental cinema. In her brand-new screening location in Kunsthal Ghent, films can shine, flicker and rattle in their full glory on a variety of media. On the opening night, Teresa Cos and Michael Snow explore the space of the landscape. In the movie theater, art historian Dirk Lauwaert dreamed of “an expedition”, he could “see how people live elsewhere” as “a way to be in the world”, and that is exactly what Cos and Snow aspire to.
The expeditions of experimental cinema still come home to the cinema’s and discussion rooms and specialized festivals. Long before Oberhausen, there was not only EXPRMNTL in Knokke, but also GEFF in Zagreb. On Saturday, the Yugoslav (amateur)films and dreams of the 1960s are subjected to a contemporary view. GEFF and, by extension, the experimental film traditions, embraced amateurism in its sense of “searching in the margins”, thereby making virtue of unskillfulness, creating nothing with anything.
Finally, on Sunday, we make room for Atelier OFFoff and its several young artists that explore interdisciplinary presentation forms along and across the tangents of film, literature and visual arts.
Teresa Cos (°1982, Italy, resides in London and Brussels) presents a ‘forward version’ of her audiovisual installation The Measure of Disorder. Originally, Cos conceived her exploration of the landscape as a single soundtrack around a double projection, in which the same film runs in a forward loop on one screen and in a reverse one on the other. Especially for the inauguration of the cinema in Kunsthal Gent, Cos adapted the work to a single screen projection, accompanied by a performance with improvisations from her collection The Archive of Loops, from which the auditory layer of The Measure of Disorder originally is composed. Caught between irreversibility and repetition, the film moves from Vienna across the Alps and along the Austrian Riviera. Cos takes personal anecdotes as her guidance while following the trail of the Austrian scientist Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906), roaming between individual experience and global community building.
To attain an almost objective view of the landscape, the Canadian artist and structural film pioneer Michael Snow (°1929) focuses in La Région centrale for no less than three hours on the mountain landscape of a seemingly deserted part of Quebec. In the absence of people, the specially designed camera becomes the inquisitive protagonist as it tilts horizontally and vertically, swivels and tumbles, zooms in and out. With its unconventional, mechanical camera movements, La Région centrale eliminates the fixity of the gaze, giving way to a new, mechanical experience of space and time. Epic, iconic and mesmerizing.