Chris Marker, "Quelle heure est-elle"
Tue Jul 7 2009
Untitled 12 from 'Koreans'; Photographs: Courtesy of the artist and Peter Blum...
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
French filmmaker Chris Marker has spent much of his life documenting the social and political upheavals of our modern era and mapping, in film “essays” such as Sans Soleil (1982), the liminal spaces between reality and subjective experience. Marker’s previous show here presented 40 years of photographs and stills, accompanied by text—a dazzling progression of images given shape by Marker’s distinctive narrative voice. His current exhibition, however, leaves any semblance of linearity in the dust, presenting, among other things, photographs, a video homage to T.S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men,” a series of posters for imaginary movies and a set of postcards featuring Marker’s alter ego, a grinning cartoon cat.
The show coalesces around two groups of photographs, “KOREANS” and the titular series, “QUELLE HEURE EST-ELLE?” The first was taken in 1957 in postwar North Korea; the second, more recent, shot with a hidden camera on the Paris Metro. Both sets have been digitally manipulated through a labor-intensive process that Marker likens to Sunday painting, whereby the images—a tank in a rice field, a woman staring from the window of a moving train—are subjected to effects analogous to the distortions of memory and perception. In some cases, edges are highlighted, backgrounds are reduced to high-contrast abstractions, faces are washed out, and surfaces crawl with hallucinatory patterns, as if in the work of a visionary painter. While reprising one of Marker’s central themes—the contingency of the documentary image—these works, like the exhibition as a whole, introduce a more introspective—and perhaps more mystical—side of this famously elusive artist.—Anne Doran