created with - 04.12.2009
"Screening Real"

As part of the art festival Steirischer Herbst, “Screening Real” convincingly explores the event’s theme this year: definitions of “the real” as put forth by various media. The exhibition juxtaposes Sharon Lockhart’s Double Tide, 2009, and Exit, 2008, with Andy Warhol’s 16-mm films Kiss, 1963, Eat, 1964, and Blow Job, 1964, and several of his “Screen Test” pieces, as well as Bruce Conner’s A Movie, 1958, and Report, 1963–67. The curators have designed the exhibition as a walk-through multifocal movie theater. Seldom exhibited in Europe, the original material, as displayed in the space, is riveting.

The central point of comparison between the three artists and their positions is the manner in which they formalize the relationship between “film time” and “filmed time”: Warhol captures everyday settings in real time with the camera—reducing his subjects to a certain level of banality by employing a supposedly one-to-one temporal representation, while also making them icons by focusing the camera on them relentlessly. Connor’s hard-cut footage collages, on the other hand, break radically with the illusion of representational immediacy by intentionally disrupting images, employing repetition, and inserting unfinished countdowns.

In the case of Lockhart as well, the filmic representation of time is decisive. It is employed to great effect in Double Tide (Jen Casad, South Bristol, Maine, July 22, 2008, Sunrise) and Double Tide (Jen Casad, South Bristol, Maine, July 22, 2008, Sunset), both 2009, for instance: two films with constant camera angles that are projected as a single large-format piece on opposing walls. The monumental setting is reminiscent of landscape painting, and the look of the ninety-six-minute film, as well as the minimal action it presents, gives the impression of a “standing image”: By the mouth of a stream, surrounded by trees, the film’s protagonist digs for mussels. Here, nature too becomes an actor: At the beginning, fog renders the setting ethereal, while at another point, the scenery is cast in evening light. The two simultaneous parts of the film show its subject doing exactly the same thing, but one in the morning and the other in the evening. Through this doubling, Lockhart transforms the impression of the real into subtle theatricality.

Translated from German by Jane Brodie.

Jens Asthoff