Coréennes is a project made in 1957 when Chris Marker was one of the few journalists who could still explore North Korea freely. The resulting photographs give an uncensored record of daily life, four years after the end of a devastating war. Those strolls were amusingly rejected by both sides of the 38th parallel: the North because it didn’t mention Kim Il-Sung and the South simply because it had been made on the other side of the frontier. No such rejection appears in Quelle heure est-elle ? (2004-2008) although Chris Marker stole pictures ‘like a benevolent paparazzo’, as he himself recalls. Inspired by a short unforgettable poem by Ezra Pound, ‘The apparition of these faces in the crowd / Petals on a wet, black bough’, he started taking pictures inside the Paris subway. His aim in collecting these ‘petals’ was to give people their best moment, often imperceptible in the stream of time, making them truer to their inner selves. He started the experience with a wristwatch camera, hence the title. Although he later used different contraptions, the title remained, reminding that the stolen moment of a woman’s face tells something about Time itself...The same idea is developed in the series PASSENGERS. ‘Cocteau used to say that, at night, statues escape from museums and go walking in the streets’, explains Marker who sometimes made unusual encounters of models of famous painters inside the Paris subway, eerie figures lost in time. These images, in colour, illustrate the various ways in which people create invisible boundaries in order to cope with modern urban life. The modern finally meets the tradition of arts in another series, After Dürer, where Marker uses the engravings of the German printmaker and revisits them. Silent Movie and The Hollow Men also questions the linearity of narration and history. The first installation presents a highly personal response to the 100th anniversary of the invention of cinema, while the second one reflects on the European wasteland that resulted from the First World War. The most famous film of Chris Marker, La Jetée, is also shown in Arles, as well as a virtual event dealing with his recent work on Second Life, a platform accessible on the Internet.
Peter Blum, curator.
Chris Marker’s retrospective in Arles presents more than 300 works, produced between 1957 and 2010.
Projection and photogramms: La Jetée,
1963, courtesy of Argos Films.
Exhibition produced in collaboration with Peter Blum Gallery, New York.
Multimedia installation produced by Coïncidence with the collaboration of Max Moswitzer.
Exhibition venue: Palais de l’Archevêché.