Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air
18 February 2015, 18:30 - 21:00
Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern
£5, concessions available – book tickets
Tate Film will present the UK premiere of Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air as part of a new programme, Artist Cinema. The first in a new strand of monthly artists’ film premieres at Tate Modern, this fascinating debut feature-length film by British director Phillip Warnell tells the real-life story of Antoine Yates, who kept a tiger called Ming and a large alligator in his high-rise New York apartment for several years. Warnell’s film investigates the philosophical questions posed by co-habitation with animals. In order to recreate Yates’s absurdly cramped living conditions, much of the film was shot under controlled conditions in a British zoo.
Philip Warnell is a filmmaker, artist and academic based in London. Warnell’s cinematic work explores a range of philosophical ideas, such as human-animal relations and the poetics of the body and its dimensionality. Ming of Harlem is Warnell’s second collaboration with philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. The work, which has been supported by an Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust, explores the interplay between film, politics and notions of sense as theorised by Nancy in his voiceover.
Andrea Lissoni, Curator of Film and International Art, Tate Modern, said: ‘Perfectly incarnating the typology of an artist’s film, Ming of Harlem opens the new strand of Artist Cinema at Tate Modern. Ming of Harlem bridges the fields of philosophy, ethology and sociology, producing knowledge across several disciplinary areas and questioning the status of reality and fiction. In doing so, it anticipates the kind of films that Tate Film will be presenting throughout the upcoming years.’
Ming of Harlem has garnered much critical acclaim, having won the Georges Beauregard International Prize at the International Film Festival Marseille earlier this year. The evening will begin with a screening of Warnell’s first collaboration with Nancy, the short film Outlandish: Strange and Foreign Bodies (2009). The UK premiere of Ming of Harlem will be followed by a live Q&A with Phillip Warnell and Jean-Pierre Rehm, Director of the FIDMarseille-International Film Festival Marseille.
Ming of Harlem is the inaugural work to be premiered at Tate Modern as part of the Artist Cinema programme. This strand of film previews will include Singularity by Catalonian director Albert Serra on 13 March; a unique preview of his in-development project commissioned for the Catalan participation at the forthcoming 56th Venice Art Biennale as a Collateral Event. The Cast by Clemens von Wedemayer will premiere on 30 April; a highly anticipated three-part experimental film incorporating 3-D animation with a narrative based on an incident that took place during the shooting of the film Ben Hur. And on 20 May, Rosa Barba’s The Hidden Conference will receive its world premiere; capturing unseen and uncurated art works in storage at the Neue National-galerie in Berlin.