Tate Modern Turbine Hall Bridge
3 July – 17 August 2008
H BOX, an innovative mobile screening room designed by artist and architect Didier Fiuza Faustino and curator Benjamin Weil, showing major new commissions by eight international video artists, will open on Thursday 3 July on the Turbine Hall Bridge at Tate Modern
The 6.5-metre unit, containing state of the art video screening facilities, is designed to accommodate 10 viewers at a time. It features works by: Alice Anderson, Yael Bartana, Sebastian Diaz Morales, Dora Garcia, Judith Kurtag, Valerie Mrejen, Shahryar Nashat and Su-Mei Tse.
Benjamin Weil, Curator of H BOX, is Director of Artists Space in New York. In 1994 he founded ada web, the first contemporary art website to produce and present works specially made for the internet. From 1998 to 2000 he was Director of the New Media Centre at the ICA in London before becoming Curator of Media Arts at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Since 2006 he has been curator of the Art/Film programme of the Basel Art Fair.
Didier Fiuza Faustino, designer of H Box, is an artist and architect. He set up the Laboratoire d’Architecture, Performances et Sabotages in 1996 and in 2002 founded the Bureau des Mésarchitectures. His design for H BOX explores what experiential architecture might be. Taking the form of a ‘camera obscura’, it is a hybrid object, conceived as a screening room, but also a piece of furniture designed to travel.
H BOX, commissioned by Hermès, was first unveiled at the Pompidou Centre in Paris on the 28th November 2007 and has travelled to MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon in Spain and MUDAM in Luxembourg. After Tate Modern H BOX will travel to the Yokohama Triennale in Japan. The programme of new commissions for H BOX will be updated every year with four new works replacing the first eight works, providing a dynamic insight into moving image work by contemporary artists.
Stuart Comer, Curator of Film, Tate Modern, said: “Video art is increasingly central to Tate’s collecting and programming. Tate is delighted to host this innovative initiative to show the work of young artists in such an imaginative way.”
Hermès has had a long association with contemporary art and design. Through a network of its own galleries around the world and through the recently established Hermès foundation, it develops relationships with contemporary artists by exhibiting their work and supporting the creation of new works.
3 July – 17 August
Turbine Hall Bridge, Tate Modern
4 June 2008
Alice Anderson was born in London in 1976 but brought up in France, Alice Anderson trained at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts before returning to the city of her birth in 2004. An artist of mystery, her photographs and videos are tinged with darkness. Her characters have the beauty of despair and the intensity of memory, all the more troubling for their being so caustic in manner. With their frequent allusions to a troubled autobiography and to the figure of the mother, her videos, little jewels of narrative, form a series of Freudian fables. A recasting of the Bluebeard legend in the feminine, Barbe Bleue, 2007, thus presents a new look at the forbidden. As buried fears find embodiment in the uncanny, video becomes a photosensitive plate, familiar strangeness shimmering in light and shade. Barbe Bleue, a woman of androgynous physique, lives alone in a vast and magnificent house where one day a mother and her son present themselves at the door. They are poor, but the son is as handsome as the day is bright. A curious relationship establishes itself between the three characters, one question returning endlessly: who is Barbe Bleue, and what is hidden in the room that may not be entered?
Yael Bartanawas born in Afula, Israel, in 1970. Today, she lives and works in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. Nourished by an attachment to the land of Israel, Bartana’s work offers a detached, critical yet undeniably poetical reflection on the complex relationship between individual and society. Video, her most frequently favoured medium, is particularly well suited to a focus on the isolated individual. Everyday actions are examined in the light of the current geopolitical context, whose impact on individual life is registered. Bartana’s videos thus interrogate the state of permanent war in which Israeli society finds itself, or the position of women in this nerve-wracked world. For the H Box programme, the artist looks at the question of language: its vitality, its power, and the sense of loneliness consequent upon the experience of not being understood. In Mary-Koszmary, 2007, a young Polish leftist gives a speech at the Warsaw Stadium, evoking the complex situation of the Polish people before the outbreak of the Second World War. If the allegory is political, it touches as much on the human: of this, Bartana’s vision is convincing testimony. As is the delicacy of her silence.
Sebastián Diaz Morales
Sebastián Diaz Morales is a citizen of the wide world. Born in Comodoro Rivadavia in 1975, he lives and works in his native Argentina and in the Netherlands. But his hunger takes him always elsewhere, from one residency or exhibition to another, travelling from the arid landscapes of Patagonia to Berlin, from Mexico to Amsterdam, where people all breathe the same way but dream different dreams. His works reveal a profound desire for freedom: in documentary, epic film, video-essay or short, Diaz Morales is as fervently concerned with experiment as he is with narrative. Produced with minimal equipment – a video camera and a computer – his films develop from a simple idea, simultaneously fiction and reality, breaking down the divisions of a time inadequate to a proper understanding of the human. For the individual is at the heart of the work, confronted by the natural environment or by the pressures of a society riven by political and economic imbalances. Video for Diaz Morales is an art of scrupulous observation, a personal commitment aware of its individual origins but striving for the universality that alone is capable of capturing the movement of the world and its worlds. In an age saturated with words, with yelling and speechifying, working with silent video allows him to carve out his own space and nourish a sensibility that privileges the image. Oracle, 2007, offers a random assemblage of images of the present that speak of the future as a continuation of the present. Presented without judgment or interpretation, these images succeed each other like an oracle fusing past and future in the here and now of the spectator.
Dora Garcia has a taste for travel and the sharing of experience it brings. Born in Valladolid, Spain, in 1965, she studied in the Netherlands. Today, she lives and works in Brussels. Her works combine video, writing and performance. Like a director, Dora Garcia explores the resources of fiction: the fine detailing of the scenario and the incorporation of archive footage or photographs are means to grasp people and emotion. As a hypothetical truth, fiction can get to grips with the most crucial of problems. In Film (Hôtel Wolfers), 2007, sound and image are independent but strangely connected. We hear a male voice discussing the principle of the subjective camera employed in different ways in three films (Samuel Beckett’s Film of 1965, Moustapha Akkad’s The Message of 1976 and John Carpenter’s Halloween of 1978). A camera to which each of the directors assigns a distinctive role, as if embodying a character. The images of the video, shot first of on black and white 35 mm film, show Henry Van de Velde’s celebrated Wolfers House in Brussels, as if in an architectural documentary. But here Dora Garcia uses some of the conventions of the subjective camera, which, with a furtive and distracted eye scans the decaying walls of the building, suggesting the detached attention of the historical gaze.
Born in Budapest and brought up in a highly artistic household, Judit Kurtág trained as a photographer at the École des Gobelins in Paris before continuing her studies at the École des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. Photography was her first love: music of silence, painting at speed. Then came video. Its rhythms, the impetuous or languid movements that give a face to time. There would be no compromise between the two, Kurtág adopting a dual artistic identity to match her dual, French-Hungarian nationality. Exhibiting internationally since the early years of this century, today she lives and works in Paris and Berlin. Disguised autobiography, variations on memories like fragments of a shattered recollection, the overprintings of a mind at grips with the here and the elsewhere, these are all characteristic of Kurtág’s work, snatches of a voice that never succeeds in speaking in its plenitude. Midway, 2007, offers a subtle and detached evocation of three famous stories, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Perrault’s Little Red Riding-Hood and Dante’s Inferno. As in a dream, these references here appear combined, pell-mell, without beginning or end, disturbing our perceptions of reading and opening up a space of interpretation both intimate and acutely sensitive.
Valérie Mréjen is an artist, photographer and writer. Living in Paris, where she was born in 1969, Mréjen first devoted herself to the visual arts, but words turned out to be as important to her as images. Between making videos and short films, she writes fiction, L’Agrume, published in 2001, bringing her the French prize for the best second novel. Rigorous in the extreme, attentive to the smallest detail, Mréjen conceives her videos in minutely calculated static shots, a photograph or short text sometimes making its way into a universe otherwise dominated by everyday simplicities. She finds her subjects in life, distilling its familiar yet volatile essence. If many of her videos are concerned with childhood, misunderstanding and the comedy of human relationships, Mréjen is in no wise merely sociological, her concerns extending far, far beyond the documentary, from whose constraints she freed herself by her decision to work with actors. Thus in Bulles, 2007, the characters reflect in silence on their relationships to other individuals, who may be present or absent from the room: in voice-off, we hear their thoughts and suppositions, a crescendo of misunderstandings.
For Shahryar Nashat, a Swiss artist born in Tehran in 1975, now living in Paris and Berlin, change of culture is an accelerator of thought. His work is rooted such confrontations, in the confusion of the individual in the face of the history that unfolds before his or her eyes, in social, religious and cultural discomfort. Nashat’s vision underscores the tensions induced by the proximity of the other, an absolute mystery whose true nature one never succeeds in grasping. Often condemned to the polarity of master and slave, his characters struggle to beat a path towards language in subtitles and voice-off, while only gesture seems adequate to express the unease of incomprehension, as a suspension of vitality, a materialisation of anxieties. Plaque (Slab), 2007, is a video devoted to the celebrated Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. Incorporating original recordings by Gould, remixed by Nashat, it captures Gould’s physical presence in his performances. The confrontation of these archive images with others showing the industrial production of concrete slabs raises the question of the role of the performer-interpreter: how bring out form, how develop a language, and under what constraints? Despite the harmony of the pianist’s gestures, we see that the reconstitution of a musical composition in performance entails a certain conceptualisation.
Su-Mei Tse, the daughter of a Chinese father and a British mother, born in Luxembourg in 1973, quickly became aware ofthe fruitfulness of contrast and of hybridity, making it a source of inspiration and object of reflection in her work as a visual artist and musician. For the essential resides in details and in contraries. Her works combine film, photography, music and dance in a logic that is above all emotional. Going beyond a mere mastery of cutting-edge technologies, her work retains the force of an engagement with the human, guided only by her own personal vision. The real is not analysed, but presented, with passion, appetite and humour. Let nothing escape. In Open score, 2007, Su-Mei Tse returns to subjects such as autism, already treated in Chambre sourde, 2003 and Le Musicien autiste, 1999-2003. Here, writes the artist, “introspection manifests itself in the form of an invented hybrid game, half-way between squash and tennis, in which we follow a single player playing in a blank space, a white box.” A very strong white, accentuating the idea of the void and of confrontation with a space that can also stand for mental space. Suggesting also absence, solitude, and confrontation with ones own “I,” or the “blank page” that lies at the beginning of every new work, and which takes form in the course of the game. And to involve the spectator in this match, to engage him in a struggle with his own identity, the work opens with a shot filmed from the inside of the H Box itself.